Avis promised me a refund of $1,016 — so where is it?

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By Christopher Elliott

What happened to Michael Kivel’s refund from Avis? The company promised to return his deposit after he had to cancel his car rental reservation. Is the money lost?

Question

I recently reserved a tour, which included a rental car with Avis. But earlier this year, shortly before leaving, I got sick. My doctor said that I should not travel.  

I logged on to the Avis website and canceled the reservation for the car rental. I logged on the same website again approximately one week later to confirm the cancelation. The website confirmed that my reservation was indeed canceled.

Two weeks later, I called Avis to check on the status of my refund. A representative said my reservation was never canceled. She promised to cancel it that day and said I should expect my refund in three to five business days.

I also received an email from Avis claiming that a refund of $1,016 had been issued and to allow up to 15 business days for the refund to post. But I have not received the money. Could you please help me? — Michael Kivel, Burnsville, Minn.

Answer

I’m sorry to hear about your illness, and I hope you’re feeling better now. You did the responsible thing by canceling your trip.  (Related: They canceled my reservation. Can I get a refund for this Priceline car rental?)

Usually, a car rental reservation is fully refundable. But because you had booked your rental as part of a tour package, it got a little bit complicated. Your Avis rental was booked as part of your tour with Delta Vacations. So while Avis agreed to refund you, it was not a straightforward refund process. (Related: The latest car rental scam: hail damage?)

One tip: When you’re looking for a refund, always get everything in writing. It looks like you did a lot of calling, and unfortunately, there’s no record of a phone conversation unless you record it. (Recording a phone conversation may be illegal in some states.) Eventually, you received something in writing that promised you a refund. If you had chosen to dispute your credit card charge, that email would be useful. A bank might see that as a credit memo and push the refund through. (Related: Who’s responsible for this bump in my bumper?)

Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to providing our employees with a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Avis customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email to them might have moved this refund along much faster. I also have some tips on how to get a faster refund. (Related: I accidentally booked two Hertz rental cars on Hotwire. Can I get my money back?)

You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I contacted Avis on your behalf. A representative reached out to you and asked for your last credit card statement, which showed Avis had not yet refunded you. The company finally sent you the $1,016.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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