Hertz allowed me to cancel, but can Economy Bookings keep my money?

Days before Hurricane Irma hits Florida, a representative of Economy Bookings informs Stephen Sherman that he can cancel his Palm Beach-area Thrifty car rental with no penalty. So why is the company still holding on to his money two months later?

Question: I rented a car through Economy Bookings and prepaid $150. It was a nonrefundable reservation, but because of Hurricane Irma, I had to cancel my entire trip. When I called the company to cancel, I was promised a full refund because of the hurricane situation.

After a week with no refund, I filed a chargeback with my credit card company. However, I lost this case because Economy Rentals fought back and refused my refund despite the promises made.

I have called Citibank and Economy Bookings several times and have been stonewalled. Earlier in the process a Citibank representative told me it would be no problem because of the hurricane; not so!

Economy Bookings told me since I filed a chargeback they could not refund… but if I canceled the chargeback they would refund.

Citibank told me if I canceled the chargeback I would have no recourse, so I let it go forward and they now have denied the chargeback.

I am at a loss what to do now. Is there anything you can do for me? Stephen Sherman, Needham, Mass.

Answer: Of course when a hurricane is heading for your intended car rental agency, you should be able to cancel your reservation and receive a full refund.

So why didn’t you receive yours as promised?

I reviewed your paper trail and I noticed that you had never directly contacted Thrifty (company contacts are listed on our site) to see if the company had canceled your reservation.

So, first things first, I went to Hertz, the parent company of Thrifty, to find out if Economy Bookings had transmitted your payment.

Hertz confirmed that it had allowed your cancellation and the company did not charge you.

This information made your chargeback loss particularly puzzling. I asked to see a copy of your credit card company’s final decision.

Unfortunately, the documentation that you sent me was almost entirely illegible. You told me that you had received the letter in this condition. It was impossible for me to read the results of Citibank’s investigation.

When you called your credit card company for an explanation, CitiBank reiterated that your reservation was nonrefundable and that it would reapply the $150 to your account.

It is rare that we can achieve a positive resolution after a consumer loses a chargeback case — and it’s not hard to see why. After a bank deems a company the official “winner” of a chargeback investigation, there is very little motivation to entertain a consumer advocate about the same case.

Unfortunately, you had nothing in writing to show that Economy Bookings had offered a full refund. However, I thought the fact that Hertz had confirmed your penalty-free cancellation was substantial evidence that Economy Bookings should return your money.

I contacted Economy Bookings on your behalf and asked why it had not returned the rental prepayment.

Economy Bookings is a somewhat obscure company based in Latvia. Initially, the company did not respond to my request. I was beginning to anticipate that your case would end in the Case Dismissed file, but I tried again. This time I got the good news that you would be receiving a refund. The company executive I reached explained:

Please be informed, that we have a record of Mr. Sherman contacting us to request a cancellation. The reservation had been canceled on September 5 and the information had been passed to our finance department in order to process a refund.

However, on September 8, Mr. Sherman disputed the charge with his bank. Mr. Sherman didn’t give us an opportunity to assist him without the bank’s help. Due to this reason, the refund should be processed by the bank.

Therefore, I would like to inform you, that we have accepted his refund request.

So, as it turns out, the origin of your refund problem was that you had initiated a chargeback after just three days.

This was a mistake on your part. When the accounting department attempted to process your refund, it was notified that the payment had already been reversed by the bank.

A chargeback case should only be used as a last resort — after all other less drastic steps are taken. Economy Bookings had already told you that your refund was approved. But when you filed your ultimately unsuccessful chargeback after just three days, your impatience almost led to the permanent loss of your money.

Luckily for you, this company has now put your refund offer in writing and Citibank has reopened the case to secure the return of your money. You are quite pleased with this outcome.

And there is one final lesson in your story. Your experience perfectly illustrates why we don’t recommend using third-party booking sites — especially ones based outside of the U.S. with which you have no familiarity. If you had booked directly with Thrifty, your money would have been quickly refunded, and you could have avoided engaging in this battle in the first place.

Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.