How can I make Avis refund this surprise $4,228 car rental charge?

Avis blindsided Claudia Lockwood with a $4,228 surprise charge after her last car rental experience.

She thought she’d done everything right and expected no problems. She brought the car back to the correct lot and left the keys in the vehicle, as instructed. Lockwood even saved her gas receipt that showed she had filled the tank before returning the Ford Edge SUV.

Not much good it did her. One month later, Avis claimed she still had the rental car in her possession. This, even though she had proof that she’d flown to Germany (without the car, of course) soon after the end of her car rental contract.

So will she just be stuck paying Avis this $4,228 upcharge?

Why did this Vrbo host ruin her birthday party?

Charysma Adams’ birthday party was ruined by a Vrbo host who wouldn’t let her into the house she’d rented for the night. But now, instead of returning her money, the host is making a bad situation even worse — and Adams wants our help to make it right.

Adams’ strange case is a warning to anyone thinking of using a rental platform like Vrbo or Airbnb for a special event. It’s also a reminder to do your due diligence when you’re planning a party. You don’t want to overlook certain important details, or you could end up standing outside in the cold like this birthday girl.

How can you get a full refund from Trainline? Not like this

All Linda Shapiro wanted was to change her train tickets from Seville to Madrid. That’s all. How hard can that be?

Harder than you might think, it turns out.

Her online travel agency, Trainline, took her on an unexpected journey through ticket-change hell, followed by a surprise stop in refund purgatory. And now that I’ve almost run out of theological metaphors, here’s one more: Shapiro needs a little redemption from our team of consumer advocates.

Could Hertz send you to collections after offering you a goodwill gesture?

Hertz customer Aaron Baird made a costly mistake during his last car rental. Because he returned the vehicle to the wrong location, the car rental giant slapped him with a $780 upcharge. Ultimately, in the spirit of positive customer relations, Hertz offered Baird a goodwill gesture and erased the debt.

Lesson learned, and all was well – or so Baird thought.

A few weeks after Hertz offered the goodwill gesture, a different department within the company resurrected the invoice. That Hertz team sent Baird’s account to collections and put him on the Do Not Rent (DNR) list.

Now an exasperated Baird is hoping the Elliott Advocacy team can help. He wants Hertz to take his account out of collections and remove his name from the DNR list.

Can we make that happen?

My Expedia booking went all wrong! How did I end up owing $6,987 extra?

Something went terribly awry with Catherine Duffin’s last Expedia booking. She used the online travel agency to plan her family’s New Year’s getaway to the all-inclusive Xcaret Resort in Mexico. Assuming the cost displayed on her Expedia confirmation would indeed include everything, she received a shock at check-in. That’s when hotel management asked for not only the over $16,000 she expected to pay — but also an additional $8,000.

After a bit of negotiating, Duffin says the hotel agreed to accept just $6,987 extra. Faced with no other choice at the remote resort during a holiday week, she paid the bill. But none of this fee was mentioned on the Expedia booking, and now she’s asking our team for assistance. Duffin wants us to help Expedia get the money back that she believes the hotel charged her by mistake.

If a vacation rental owner lists the wrong location, shouldn’t Vrbo refund your money?

Karen Barney used Vrbo to book a vacation rental to celebrate Christmas in Puerto Vallarta with extended family. But after she pressed the confirm button, this first-time Vrbo user got a surprise from the vacation rental owner. It turns out the property wasn’t actually in Puerto Vallarta. Even more surprising? The rejection Barney received when she asked Vrbo to fix the problem by canceling and giving her a refund.

Now Barney is hoping our team can convince Vrbo to refund the money she spent on this mislabeled vacation rental.

If you’re booking a vacation rental and the exact location is critical, Barney’s case should serve as a warning. Sites like Vrbo and Airbnb provide only a general idea of the property’s location until after you’ve already committed to the reservation. So what should a Vrbo user do if the location of their booked property varies significantly from the listing?

Let’s find out.

My vacation rental has mice! Shouldn’t Airbnb refund me?

If you book a vacation rental and it has mice, are you responsible for catching and disposing of the rodents? And if so, does the Airbnb host owe you a refund or other compensation for your troubles?

That’s what Gabriella Costanza wants to know after her recent unpleasant experience. She and her significant other had planned to celebrate the holidays in a clean, cozy Airbnb property. Unfortunately, soon after the couple arrived, it became clear they weren’t alone in the vacation rental. And although Airbnb allows shared-space rentals, these additional “residents” were of the most unwelcome and unapproved kind – mice.

But maybe even worse than the reality that mice were living at this Airbnb was the host’s response. This vacation rental owner expected Costanza to put down glue traps and spend her holiday dealing with the inevitable outcome. Which the young traveler did.

Now Costanza is asking Airbnb for a refund for this vacation rental experience. But will the fact that the couple completed their entire stay make that an impossible outcome?

Maybe not.

How to get a $400 cleaning fee on your car rental removed? Like this

Hertz gave Vincent Iannacci a most unpleasant surprise at the end of his recent car rental: a $400 cleaning fee.

Knowing that he’d returned the vehicle in pristine condition, Iannacci assumed Hertz had billed him in error. But when he tried to get the cleaning fee removed, the car rental giant told him there was no mistake. In fact, a company representative explained, employees had snapped photos of cigarette butts smashed into the vehicle’s carpet. As a result, the $400 cleaning fee would stand.

Now outraged, Iannacci, a life-long nonsmoker, intends to fully defend himself against this false accusation. He says no one smoked in his rental car, and he refuses to let the cleaning fee stand.

Iannacci is hoping the Elliott Advocacy team can help him fight this battle. But will photos of the offending cigarette make his case impossible to successfully mediate?

Can Amtrak really leave us stranded and refuse our refund request, too?

If Amtrak stranded you in the middle of nowhere after a train derailment, you would expect a refund, correct?

That’s what Matthew Lopez also expected after a disastrous ending to his recent national park vacation. A terrible Amtrak accident left him stranded in a remote location in Montana with no way home — and no refund from the company.

This case is unusual because Amtrak cases are few and far between in our consumer advocacy practice. But with the new infrastructure bill pumping billions of dollars into the national rail carrier, Amtrak and its customer service reputation are finding their way into the headlamps of our readership. Problems like these — and their resolutions — have a way of informing future booking decisions. And this case has all the elements of a true vacation nightmare. It features not only a deadly train derailment, but also shuttered hotels, vanishing transportation options, and a tone-deaf customer service department.

Why did Amtrak leave these people stranded and also refuse their refund request? Let’s find out.

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