How to solve this mystery of the missing hotel refund? Check your credit card

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By Christopher Elliott

Why didn’t Jessica Radosevic get her $444 hotel refund from the online travel agency Traveluro? Could it have something to do with the credit card dispute she filed?

Question

Last year, I booked a trip to Las Vegas through a site called Traveluro. My airline canceled the flight, and I could not get another flight, so I had to cancel my hotel reservation.

I contacted Traveluro, and a representative agreed to cancel my reservation and give me a full refund. But the refund showed up in my account as “pending” and then completely dropped off. It was never fully processed. 

I filed a credit card dispute with my bank, but my bank denied my request. Traveluro is extremely hard to get in touch with. I call, and it rings once and then hangs up on me. I’ve been trying for months! 

The one time I got through — other than my first call —  a representative said they would escalate the situation and somebody would call me within 24 to 48 hrs. That never happened. Please help me get my $444 back! — Jessica Radosevic, Danville, Calif.

Answer

If Traveluro promised you a refund, it should have delivered one.

First of all, you might be wondering what Traveluro is. It’s an online travel agency operated by Holisto, a company based in the U.S. and Israel. Traveluro offers support in several European languages, which is perhaps where the “uro” part comes from.

So why didn’t Traveluro refund your hotel? First, online agencies don’t control refunds on nonrefundable rooms. They would have to ask the hotel in Las Vegas for a waiver, which would take some time. It looks as if Traveluro tried to get your money back — hence the “pending” refund. But it ran out of time when you decided to file a credit card dispute.

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A credit card dispute means you are asking your bank to reverse a transaction because it’s fraudulent or you didn’t receive the product or service you ordered. I have more on how chargebacks work in my ultimate guide to credit card disputes on this site. 

How do you speed up a hotel refund when you’re working with an online travel agency?

Online travel agencies are intermediaries between you and the hotel. So when you request a refund, the online agency has to coordinate to process the refund. This collaboration can sometimes create delays. But there are steps you can take to expedite the process. (Related: Iberia told me to file a credit card chargeback. Now I don’t have a ticket!)

Review the online travel agency’s refund policy

Check out the online travel agency’s refund policy before booking your hotel stay. Bear in mind that some online agencies have stricter refund policies than a hotel. Normally, the online agency’s refund policy overrides the hotel’s — even if the hotel authorizes a refund. (Related: I canceled my cruise, but my $19,148 credit card claim is lost at sea.)

Put it in writing

Document every interaction with the online travel agency. That includes emails, chats, and phone calls (some apps let you generate a transcript). A paper trail will help you track progress and ensure that the online travel agency is addressing your request. (Related: As rewards credit cards face regulation, what are the alternatives?)

Be patient but persistent

Refund processes can take time, so hang in there. If you haven’t received a response within a week, you may want to follow up in writing to find out the status of your refund request. Again, don’t call — write. A paper trail is critically important. (Here’s our guide to winning a credit card dispute.)

Contact the hotel directly

If you’re experiencing long wait times or difficulty communicating with the online travel agency, consider reaching out to the hotel directly. The property may be able to contact the online travel agency on your behalf to facilitate a faster resolution.

Don’t forget to use the Elliott Method to resolve any dispute between you, the online agency and the hotel. Be patient, persistent and polite. And don’t let the online travel agency keep your money if you’re owed a refund. That’s completely unacceptable.

What happened to your refund?

So what went wrong? I mean, besides trying to call an online agency, which is usually a bad idea? (Always email to create a paper trail.) 

Well, my advocacy team wanted to know, so we asked. It turns out the company was able to secure a full refund for your hotel, according to Elad Shmilovich, Holisto’s chief operating officer. “However, in parallel, the customer submitted a chargeback, which prevented the refund from being fully processed,” he says. “That’s why the customer saw a pending notification, which disappeared.”

Not to worry, Shmilovich added. “I’ve asked my ops team to issue a new refund, which should already be in her account.”

Ah, I love a happy ending! But there’s an important lesson here for the rest of us. When a company promises a refund, you have to give it time. Sometimes, a refund to your credit card can take up to two billing cycles, which is more than two months. If you lose patience and file a credit card dispute, it doesn’t just stop the refund process. It can actually reverse it, ensuring that you never get your money.

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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.

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