My friend JB was having trouble with his debit card on his recent visit to the Crescent City. When he called his bank, he was informed that Visa debit cards haven’t worked in New Orleans since Katrina. [Edit: I surely misunderstood. It must be just this particular bank's Visa debit cards.]
I found that somewhat astonishing. Then I heard of HammHawk’s identity theft. So to prove that bad news comes and threes, I thought I’d whine about my little story of card-related woe.
Back in September, I felt I was overcharged for a hotel room in Alabama. The price listed online was $95/night, but the cleaning fee was $147. The amount of this fee was not disclosed until after the transaction was made. When I found out, I immediately called to complain, but I was not allowed to cancel. Strangely enough, I did badger one rep into promising a refund of half the fee. I said I would seek a full refund.
So I filed a dispute with the bank, wrote a letter, etcetera. They finally wrote back and said this was a “legitimate charge.” I called them up. When pressed, they pointed out that the fine print on the online form did specify “additional fees.”
I countered that the amount of the fee seemed out of whack, especially considering the amount was not disclosed in advance. They said there was nothing they could do.
I posed a hypothetical question: What if the fee had been $10,000 or some other ungodly amount that wiped out my entire account? Nope, nothing they can do. No protection whatsoever.
I then spoke to this rep’s supervisor who was more sympathetic. She promised she’d check with Mastercard. She left me a voicemail Wednesday. (I was home varnishing.) She said there’s nothing they can do because it was in the contract. She said, and I quote, “they can charge whatever amount they desire.”
Doesn’t that seem outrageous?
Update: As Sophmom points out, I should name names. My bank is Capital One. The reservation was made through Beachgroup LLC (part of Orbitz.com) but the billing was through a company called LeisureLink.
Update: I followed the advice in Carol’s comment and contacted Christopher Elliott. He contacted Orbitz and they gave me a call the following week. After getting the details, they agreed to refund the remainder of the fees. I just saw in my bank statement that the refund went thru. Since the extra fees included taxes, I guess that means this vacation ended up being tax free!