Give Me Back My Money!
Give me back my money! It’s disappointing that companies like Airbnb and Priceline aren’t returning money back to their customers for cancelled trips. Why give people the run around ever, but especially now? What's even more alarming is that Bookit.com went out of business in the midst of all the crazy, leaving travelers without a return flight home and worse, the resorts/hotels hadn't been paid either.
I've seen a lot of talk regarding people feeling hopeless and frustrated, so I'm sharing 6 tips to assist with this process.
1. Call the number listed on your confirmation paperwork.
Make sure to ask every representative you communicate with for their employee number/ID. You may need this later if you're unsuccessful in securing a refund. Also, take detailed notes. They might be helpful in the long run. FYI: I've heard people are experiencing longer wait times via phone.
2. File a dispute with your bank or credit card company.
Call your bank and/or credit card company. Let them know you would like to open a dispute. Before attempting this step, contact the merchant (i.e. the company that owes you money) first. The bank or credit card company will ask, as they want to make sure you've done everything in your power to resolve this issue with the merchant directly. They will also ask you to provide any documentation that can assist them in resolving the dispute.
Credit card companies typically issue a temporary credit for the amount being disputed. This means any interest associated with those charges should not appear on your statement. The same is true for most banks. Please be advised I've seen this process take anywhere between 10 business days up to 8 weeks.
Pro tip: I always try to pay for my travel (or larger purchases) with my credit card. I don't like my money being tied up in mess (more on this later).
3. Contact corporate.
What I'm about to say may sound ridiculous, but sometimes representatives make decisions based on nothing, but their own emotion or pressures to meet quotas. Sadly, some of these companies want to see how hard you’re willing to fight to get your money back. You can locate this information by visiting the website of the company holding your money hostage. Sometimes it's a little tricky to find - Look for the the "Contact" link. If you can't find it at the top of the page, check the footer. There will either be a telephone number, email address, or an option to send a message to corporate directly through the page. I don't like the latter option, because I prefer to have records of all my communication. The messages boxes will prompt an automatic email response, but in my experience your original complaint won't be included in that correspondence.
Whichever route you decide to pursue, share as many details as possible regarding your experience with the representative. This is why you'll need the employee number/ID. Also, let them know you would like the matter to be handled in timely manner. I often let them know what my next course of action will be if it's not resolved. Be wise and strategic when including this wording.
4. File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
If it’s an accredited business, file a complaint with the BBB. The process is tedious, but I’ve had the most success going this route. Most times I follow some variation of steps 1-3 before filing a complaint. However, there have also been times that I've skipped the first three steps all together. I think you have to decide what's best for you. When writing your complaint to the BBB, leave out emotion and only present the facts and any documentation that will assist you with the process.
If the BBB rules in your favor, they can't make the company pay you. With that being said, if the company cares about their rating and reputation, they will pay. The company knows the BBB will follow up with you to ensure the matter has been handled through completion. If it hasn't, the company's rating will be affected.
5. Report the company to the proper regulatory agency.
There are professions/industries regulated by law or public authority. Do your research and file a report. You may not get money back going this route. However, at least now their poor practices will be on record.
I have personally done all of these things and trust me when I say, there has NEVER been any money left on the table. Hell, I’m taking the table too!!!
Now, there is a bonus tip....number 6. I've never tried this before, but I've seen it work.
6. Blast them on social media.
The embarrassment and backlash companies get from getting publicly shamed has proven to be effective. If you have to go this route, you may be overcompensate, which is always a win. I think the companies realize they're putting themselves at risk of losing future business if the masses get wind of their practices. As a result, they're willing to do everything in their power to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Be mindful if you have to pursue this option.
P.S. These tips can be applied to businesses outside of the travel industry.
I would love to hear what you do! Share your thoughts and/or additional tips.