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.

Hertz made a big mistake and charged me $750 extra! I need help

Shannon Mikus says Hertz made a big mistake during her recent car rental. She says the company charged her nearly $750 extra, and she can prove it. So why won’t anyone at Hertz acknowledge this outrageous error and refund her cash?

That’s the question of the day.

This tale is another that highlights the dramatic rise in billing mistakes by Hertz and other agencies during the pandemic. Whether by carelessness, lack of skilled employees, or questionable business practices, something is amiss in the car rental industry. Here’s Mikus’s frustrating experience and some vital information so you can avoid ending up in the same situation.

A filthy vacation rental is not my thing! How do I get a refund?

When an Airbnb host directs Andrea Walker to use the service elevator in the building where she is renting an apartment, she’s slightly suspicious. However, when she opens the door to the unit, she knows she definitely won’t be staying. The owner apologizes for the state of the filthy Airbnb vacation rental and quickly agrees to a refund.

So why does the host later tell Airbnb that she spent the whole weekend at the property? (Last updated 10/14)

Our anniversary trip was ruined because we couldn’t find a COVID test!

During the pandemic, your anniversary trip can be ruined easier than ever. Willie Williams found this out in a most unpleasant way.

Last month, Williams and his wife were eagerly looking forward to celebrating their anniversary on a sunny beach in Jamaica. A few days before departure, they were patiently waiting for Rite Aid to provide the results of their pre-trip COVID test. But all their anniversary dreams were ruined when those test results came too late for them to board the plane.

Instead of celebrating their anniversary in the tropics, they spent it staring at a $3,500 nonrefundable invoice from Vacations To Go.

Now the couple is pleading with the Elliott Advocacy to pull their anniversary plans out of the ruins. But is that something we can do? (Originally published Oct. 2021)

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