DEAR TRIP TROUBLESHOOTING: I recently booked a reservation through Booking.com at the Pelican Stay, a furnished apartment building in Portland’s Pearl District. I paid the owner a security deposit of $ 250, which was to be returned to me no later than 30 days after my stay. After 30 days, I checked with Booking.com to find out what happened to the refund since I had not received it. Booking.com tried to help me but was also unsuccessful.
I would like to get my $ 250 security deposit back. Booking.com suggested that I file a credit card dispute, but I cannot do so because I have passed the 90-day time limit for a dispute. Can you help me?
– Emily Radocha, Kalamazoo, Michigan
REPLY: You should have already received your refund. And if the apartment owner or manager couldn’t return it, Booking.com or your credit card should have been able to help.
I think I know why you have had such unreasonable delays. Your stay happened just as the pandemic started. Everything was chaotic and refunds were taking longer than expected across the board. Of course, that’s no excuse – but it may explain why Booking.com couldn’t get the merchant’s attention. The world had just been turned upside down.
Indeed, when you contacted Pelican Stay, you received a polite note apologizing for the delay, which he blamed on the coronavirus outbreak. It says your refund “could be processed after 30 days due to a quarantine order in our area.” But that was in March 2020. Should it have taken so long?
No, it shouldn’t. And by the way, that 60-day limit for filing a credit card dispute, which is required under fair billing law, doesn’t mean your credit card company can’t be involved in a dispute. Credit card issuers do not have to accept disputes older than 60 days. But they often do.
I can’t believe that Booking.com wouldn’t help you. You were more than patient and your company emails were polite. I guess Booking.com sees itself as just a middleman and you need to settle any disputes directly with the merchant. Next time, you might want to consider working with a travel counselor who can advocate for you.
I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Booking.com executives on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/booking-com. You could have sent a brief email to one of the officials to appeal this matter.
I contacted Pelican Stay on your behalf and they refunded you $ 250. Better late than never!