Q: I recently reserved a tour, which included a rental car with Avis. But earlier this year, shortly before leaving, I got sick. My doctor said that I should not travel.
I logged on to the Avis website and canceled the reservation for the car rental. I logged on to the same website again approximately one week later to confirm the cancellation. The website confirmed that my reservation was indeed canceled.
Two weeks later, I called Avis to check on the status of my refund. A representative said my reservation was never canceled. She promised to cancel it that day and said I should expect my refund in three to five business days.
I also received an email from Avis claiming that a refund of $1,016 had been issued and to allow up to 15 business days for the refund to post. But I have not received the money. Could you please help me?
— Michael Kivel, Burnsville, Minnesota
A: I’m sorry to hear about your illness, and I hope you’re feeling better now. You did the responsible thing by canceling your trip.
Usually, a car rental reservation is fully refundable. But because you had booked your rental as part of a tour package, it got a little bit complicated. Your Avis rental was booked as part of your tour with Delta Vacations. So, while Avis agreed to refund you, it was not a straightforward refund process.
One tip: When you’re looking for a refund, always get everything in writing. It looks like you did a lot of calling, and unfortunately, there’s no record of a phone conversation unless you record it. (Recording a phone conversation may be illegal in some states.) Eventually, you received something in writing that promised you a refund. If you had chosen to dispute your credit card charge, that email would have been useful. A bank might see that as a credit memo and push the refund through.
I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Avis customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email to them might have moved this refund along much faster. I also have some tips on how to get a faster refund on my site.
I contacted Avis on your behalf. A representative reached out to you and asked for your last credit card statement, which showed that Avis had not yet refunded you. The company finally sent you the $1,016.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at email@example.com or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help.