Case dismissed: They promised a refund but they’re keeping my money By Christopher Elliott | July 14, 2011 FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Diana Somerville was looking forward to a week in Canada with her family last Thanksgiving. But the weather gods were not smiling upon her. Just before she was supposed to drive up to Victoria, a major blizzard struck near her home in Washington State, making the roads impassable. “All highways and airports were shut down so I called and cancelled the reservation,” she says. “Extended forecasts said still more snowstorms were on the way so I sadly relinquished the idea of our holiday weekend vacation.” But EMR Vacation Rentals, which handled her reservation, did not. At first, the company was “neighborly and accommodating,” says Somerville. “They assured me there would be no problem.” But they eventually charged Somerville’s credit card $684 — the full amount of her rental — anyway. Why? Because that’s EMRs policy, which is clearly disclosed on its website. If a cancellation is made more than 45 days from the check-in date, there will be no refund of the reservation deposit. If the Guest cancels inside 45 days from the check-in date and fails to pay the balance due, there will be no refunds of any funds received. If a Guest books and then cancels inside the 45 days from the check-in date, and has made payment in full, there will be no refund. Somerville begs to differ. She had taken EMR’s assurances that there would be “no problem” as an assurance she wouldn’t be charged. Hotels and condos frequently waive their rules when there’s a storm or the roads are blocked. She called back after the bill had posted to find out if they could come to an agreement. “I spoke to a woman who said she headed EMR Rentals who gave me the tape recorder response: ‘That’s our policy. That’s our policy. That’s our policy.'” So Somervilled disputed her credit card bill. Visa sided with the vacation rental company. She contacted me and asked for help. I decided to contact EMR because it left her with the impression that it wouldn’t charge her, but then did. (By the way, for anyone who is faced with this situation in the future, here’s a little advice: get it in writing.) I received a response from Blake MacKenzie, EMR’s general manager. No refund was promised for this guest (Diana Somerville) and the matter has been closed since January 2011 between the guest and our company. Ms Somerville booked a vacation rental property we represent in Victoria BC Canada and cancelled within a couple days of arrival but wanted a refund even though our cancellation policies where made very clear to her that no refunds are available unless we were able to rebook the dates. We do advise our guests to purchase trip cancellation insurance through their credit card company or another insurance provider. Ms. Somerville did not accept the legally signed rental agreement that she signed and attempted a credit card charge-back. We sent her credit card company the signed rental agreement and related correspondence and they rejected her credit card charge back attempt. We have a proven track record with thousands of satisfied customers. We certainly did not wish Ms. Somerville to have a poor experience but we do have to protect the interests of our homeowners that list their properties with our company. We are not like a hotel as each property is individually owned and marketed. There is limited marketing time windows for each property. We don’t have the walk in traffic like a hotel or are tied to a large global booking service. Each property has to stand on its own and cancellations of bookings with full refunds without filling the dates again directly harm our owners ability to earn rental income. Ms. Somerville knew what she was booking and continues to not accept that she signed the rental agreement on her own free will with the cancellation policies clearly shown. The fact that Ms. Somerville fails to mention that when she called us to cancel, it was not because of “her roads” made impassable, but because of snow where her relatives who reside in Seattle live. Ms Somerville told us they did not wish to make the drive, even though the roads were in fact safe to drive by the time US Thanksgiving weekend came. Ms. Somerville could have used the property herself since she lived a ferry ride away in Port Angeles but chose not to. We are sorry she has decided to bring you into her dispute with our company and we are sorry she was not able to make the trip to Victoria. Somerville is unhappy with that answer. She says no one at EMR ever recommended she buy insurance. What’s more, she had made the reservation only a week before she canceled, she should couldn’t possibly cancel within 45 days. Still, I think she’s at the end of her road. It would have been nice if EMR had refunded part or all of her room, but it doesn’t have to. And absent a written promise that it wouldn’t charge her card, I’m afraid there’s not much more she can do. FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus ChrisY In this type of case of “they said xyz,” when xyz is in direct opposition to what the customer signed, I have a hard time believing the customer. It’s so easy to just say “I spoke to someone who said they’d give me my money back” but beyond being hard to believe that it happened at all, it doesn’t really matter. The policy, while maybe an unfortunate one, was in the signed document, as evidenced by the CC company rejecting the chargeback. The customer doesn’t help herself by further stating “They never told me to buy insurance.” That’s not the company’s job. If she feels she was truly owed a refund by EMR, then she shouldn’t downgrade her complaint when called on the refund allegation. Sam Varshavchik Sad, but true, I agree with Chris. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it must be remembered, and I said this before. When you call any organization’s customer service, their primary goal is to simply get you off the phone. They’ll say anything they believe will make you go away. Usually, that means doing the right thing. But, sometimes they’ll simply lie to you, and unless the call gets recorded, there’s no way to prove anything. Never take anything you hear as true, until and unless you have any kind of a written documentation, to back it up. Rosered7033 Maybe EMR did, maybe they didn’t. She, however, DID sign a contract, and any reimbursement would have only been out of generousity. No matter that insurance was not suggested – not their job. Get the name of the person you spoke with and/or get an email verifying the content of the phone conversation, and you have a case. Otherwise, case closed. Unfortunate. deemery EMR is right, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever do business with them. Bill I am inclined to side with the rental company. It looks like the customer failed to look out for her own interests. When there is a 45 day cancel policy and you book within the 45 days, it means you can’t cancel. It doesn’t mean the policy changes. It looks like she caused them a lot of grief in her failed efforts to get her money back. Cjk While not as bad, my extended family had an unfortunate experience with a vacation rental home in Colorado a couple of years ago. We had chosen the property in part because it listed a 2 car garage as one of the amenities. Given that we were going at Christmas, when snow was a distinct possibility, that amenity was one of the reasons that particular property was chosen. We got to the property in a terrible snowstorm, only to find that the owner’s car was still in the garage, and so parked that no one else could use it. We called the rental company, who lied and said that the garage was not considered part of the rental, and was really snide about it. My husband had his computer with us, and he pointed out that the garage was listed as an included amenity, but that got us nowhere. Needless to say, we lived with it. We left the property in better shape than we’d found it, as they were holding a fairly hefty deposit hostage. It snowed 3 of the 5 days we were there, and we had to keep worrying about 2 family members with instability issues, but there was nothing we could do except badmouth that rental company to everyone we could, as did other family members who lived there, and leave poor reviews for their listing and customer service. We did notice that the property we rented is no longer listed with the company, but that didn’t help us out. We would think long and hard before renting a vacation home again. Mbods2002 Anyone who travels anywhere knows they have an option to buy trip insurance, they shouldn’t need to be TOLD. She didn’t research this enough or ask about the 45 days thing. Typically, I side with your troubled travelers but this time, I’m with the vacation rental folks. jayne52 I agree with EMR. While the weather was bad, most companies don’t do refunds for “acts of God” which most people think included the weather. She felt it was too dangerous to travel, maybe it was. I think she should have asked for an email confirmation that there would be no problem. Also I would have written a NICE email or letter before I disputed with my credit card, which always puts companies off. She may have gotten part refund. Josh I also have to side with the rental company here. It’s not reasonable for them to refund based on some weather somewhere causing people to not be able to or want to travel. EMR has no control over how well Seattle plows its roads, for example. Now, if roads were legally closed right at the rental itself, preventing access locally, it might be different — I recall a case a few years back where a police action had blocked all access to an area of town, such that a hotel (or was it a theater?) was completely inaccessible. In that case, I’d be inclined to call for a refund, since while it’s not the hotel or theater’s “fault”, they should share in the costs of issues with their local infrastructure that they presumably pay taxes/vote for. But that isn’t the case here. Middle-aged-diva Even though I think this customer has some credibility issues, I have a different view. I think acts of God –bad weather, earthquake etc—should be exceptions to “rules,” simply because there is absolutely nothing the customer can do about them. It’s not the customer’s whim or choice to not go. However, that goes against the main orientation of the vendor, which is to make money at any cost. How I wish human understanding entered into these deals, but they do not usually. Monica The one thing I took out of this article was that the customer booked the room within a week of her travel date. The forecasts nowadays are pretty accurate for a week lead time. Heck, most forecasts go out to 10 days. She would have known that severe weather, even if it wasn’t as bad as a blizzard, was on its way to the area. I sided with EMR on this one. Guest She changed her mind, and lost the deposit. Why is this even an issue!?!? Guest So why is it the business owners’ responsibility? Where is the understanding for the people who work at the property to eat and make a living? Do you think robots run these places? Your point is nonsense. Guest Besides snow, what does this have to do with the story?? Guest “They never told me to buy insurance.” Sounds like a self-entitled whiner who wants the world to bend to their desires. I’m sure a lot of bad things happen to her and none of them are her fault…. Chris in NC Same story… Different day… I hear the same comments “I won’t book with … because of their … day cancellation policy.” In reality, most resort areas (whether it is a local inn, bed and breakfast, hotel, resort or vacation rental) have similar cancellation policies. Whether its Whistler, Lake Tahoe, Sanibel Island or Martha’s Vineyard, a 3-60 day cancellation policy is standard, especially during “peak” season. EMR’s response is well written and provides good insight into the true facts. Had the Coho ferry (between Port Angeles and Victoria), not been running and canceled, I might be more inclined to side with Somerville, but this does not appear to be the case. Joe I have to side with the rental company. As a owner of a rental property in Florida I have experienced this very situation several times. I completely agree with Mr. MacKenzie. I am not a hotel with multiple units to rent. I have one unit and if someone cancels a few days (or weeks) before check in there is virtually no chance of rebooking. I depend on rental income to pay bills and make improvements to my property. As for trip insurance, living in the Northwest and planning a trip to Canada in late November, does Ms. Somerville really need to be told about trip insurance? Ms. Somerville said the extended forecast called for more storms as one her reasons to cancel but she made the reservation only a week before she canceled. Didn’t she look at the extended forecast then? Ms. Somerville is only looking for someone else to blame for her lack of foresight. Chris in NC “It’s not the customer’s whim or choice to not go. However, that goes against the main orientation of the vendor, which is to make money at any cost.” Thats a pretty bold statement. In this case, it WAS the customer’s choice to not go. Guest I have to agree with the company. She said the roads were completely impassable but the company said the roads were cleared, they just didn’t want to travel. With the way cities and towns run these days it’s unlikely they were snowed in for days on end. Moreover, Ms. Somerville could have taken the ferry which was running. I can understand not wanting to travel if a big storm is going to hit but that’s not EMR’s fault. Plus given the location, isn’t snow sort of a given in November? My guess is the family who decided not to come down also decided not to pay their portion of the rental fee since, afterall, they didn’t use the house. That leaves Ms. Somerville on the hook for the whole fee herself. That sort of thing is, unfortunately, pretty common when you’re the organizer. L2y2 I’m sorry. I side with the rental property management. We own a rental property in Jackson Hole and our property manager has the same policy. It protects property owners and the company from cancellations at the last minute, which is common. Once a property is rented and blocked, it is not open to others who may have wanted to rent it. We rely on the rental income to pay property taxes, HOA dues, maintain the condo in the condition guests expect, etc. Without that income, we could not do it. It goes without saying that the property management company relies on that income to pay its staff. It is a business, not a friend renting to you…. Guest I disagree with your comments that the forecasts are pretty accurate a week and 10 days out, especially when it comes to snow. When it’s summer, yeah, the forecasts are accurate but come winter I’ve seen some horribly wrong forecasts. Grocery stores emptied upon assurances by weathermen and websites that feet of snow are coming when in fact we get nothing or a mere dusting. Or them saying we’ll get an inch or two and then we get a foot. Raven I voted no on this one. This was a property rental and those have much different rules than a hotel. Also, I think the OP’s letter was misleading as it appears she is very close to the property and could’ve used it but was canceling because people who lived further away did not want to make the drive. Always a good idea to buy insurance when renting a property, whether it’s for a year’s lease or just a weekend. Raven Post the name of the rental company so I make sure never to use them. That sounds like a total scam–list the garage and then make it unusable! kthnx. Raven Seriously. If you’re too stupid to not consider buying insurance, maybe you shouldn’t rent a property. Yes, I am the cold hearted one of the group. :D Carver I’m be the lone voice siding with the OP, although just barely. I had to bring out some old economic principles to decide this one. Basically, the question in deciding whether to give a refund is, “Did the OPs behavior deprive the business of other revenue” For example, when a hotel is full, (Say New York on New Years Eve) it’s less inclined to waive a cancellation policy. The reasoning, which is sound, is that had you cancelled outside of the cancellation period, the hotel would probably have rented your room given the strong demand. Accordingly, you deprived the hotel of selling that room to someone else, no refund is due. By contrast, if business is slow, a hotel is much more likely to be generous with a cancellation policy because you’re not holding a room which is likely to have been sold to someone else. You are much more likely to get a refund. In this case, the OP had just reserved the room a week prior. My guess is that had she not reserved the room, it would have been empty. That’s a guess, but it is based upon the 45 day cancellation window. I assume that within the 45 day cancellation window the likelihood of a rental plummets hence the need for such a large window. The as it is unlikely that she deprived the owners of other revenue, a refund is appropriate, although not mandated. Steve R IMHO, it comes down to a question of: could she have physically made it to the property? If the roads were literally shut down and there was no way she could have made it – as she seems to suggest – then I say they owe her a refund. If, however, the roads were treacherous but open – as the rental company says – then it was her decision not to go, and she should forfeit the deposit. Without knowing more about what actually happened, I can’t say who I side with…but if the roads were indeed open, she could have made it and chose not to. In that case, I’d say they owe her nothing. Chiroalex33 its Colorado. In December. People flock there to ski. The snow surprised you? Seriously? And you didn’t specifically inquire about using the garage if you were worried about instability issues? Your fault here, not the rental company. Kris I WOULD do business with EMR precisely because they’re not refunding every poor planner and passing the cost along to the rest of us. Guest I think they knew snow was a likely, the post even says that. As for the garage, it was a listed ammenity and should have been made available or they should have been notified it would not be. If you check into a hotel because they have a great pool it should be on the hotel to tell you, “the pool will be closed that week”, it shouldn’t be on the guest to make sure the pool will be open. LeeAnneClark I might have agreed with you, if I hadn’t read the rental-company’s response: according to them, the “bad weather” didn’t affect the roads to the property, only the roads to visit their nearby family. If it was impossible to get to the property due to closed roads, then they should issue a refund. But the property was available, the roads were open to it, renter could have gone there, and it’s not the property-owner’s fault that the roads were bad elsewhere. I give this one to EMR. ChelseaGirl98 I’m firmly on the side of the vacation company–and that doesn’t happen often. The reasons why the customer is at fault here: 1. She lives in Washington and was traveling to Canada. She is obviously familiar with winter and bad weather. I live in New Mexico, and even so I don’t like to fly in winter because it snows here– and even if it doesn’t, if it’s snowing somewhere else it can mess up the flight schedules. Someone who lives in a cold climate should not assume she’ll get a refund for bad weather, and should always get an exception to the policy in writing. 2. “The company never recommended that she buy travel insurance.” Excuse me??” Grow up and take responsibility for yourself! 3. She signed an agreement and apparently didn’t read it. LeeAnneClark I understand your logic here – and while there’s validity to it, I have to disagree that a refund is due. Once you’ve booked and paid for something, and you’ve passed the refund window, the business can rightfully assume that the funds are theirs for the keeping, and use them as they see fit. If something subsequently happens (e.g. roads blocked) that make the business unable to deliver its product, then that’s their issue, and they need to refund the money. But in this case, the property WAS available, but the renter chose not to come. The business was ready to deliver its product, and it had every right to expect that the customer would avail herself of it. To then have to refund that money to the customer, when it was her own choice not to use the property, is unfair to the business. They had already received the money, and had a right to expect to factor that into their revenue. Nothing that happened here had anything to do with them – there was no “act of God” preventing them from delivering their product/service, the customer simply chose not to go because it was no longer worth it to HER to go, due to reasons that had nothing to do with the property. The fact that only a week had passed has no bearing here. The customer was aware (or should have been – she signed the agreement) that she was within the no-refund period, and if she cancelled, she wouldn’t get a refund. David Yes, she should have “planned” for a snowstorm that shut down the airports. If she could possibly do that, I’m sure she would have a $5 million per year job with any airline! Really, it’s as simple as predicting the weather…. silly Diana. They should have met somewhere in the middle. A company that does only the BARE MINIMUM required in their contract is not a company with whom I would do business. Hint – cancel the card FIRST, then call to cancel the reservation. That changes the negotiating dynamics. Stoyko If the roads/airports are open, the rental company is not required to issue a refund. The problem is that *if* the rental company did indeed promise a refund, this probably impacted her decision whether to go. If she was told “no refund”, her decision would have likely been different. Unfortunately she didn’t get this in writing. She should have at least recorded the name of the representative who made this promise and the date and time it was made. It could have made a better case. andrelot Niche markets or very personalized services are tricky territory in regard of cancellations. On top of others mentioned, I think the main problem is that neither she (the renter) nor the property were inaccessible, the snow problem affected only an area where some of her relatives, supposed to accompany her, live. While I can understand her frustration, I don’t see how the company should be obliged to refund her. I imagine a similar situation: suppose I live in New Haven and I decide to buy some tickets for a much-sought Broadway premiere in NYC, which I’m supposed to attend with my Boston girlfriend and my in-laws. Then, a blizzard close I-95 and Logan for good, they can’t reach me at all. So I decide it is not worth going to NYC alone and I ask for a refund for the tickets (assuming I couldn’t resell them). It is just one of those instances of “bad luck”, I’d say. People who are extremely concerned over risking losing deposits and rentals like this should stick to bundled travel packages where one company is responsible for everything, from the flight out to getting you to hotels on the way. On a comment note, something that such companies could do is to set up a website to resell, on a last-minute based, such vacations that have to be cancelled on as as-is basis. Airline tickets would be the prime candidates: airlines could set up transparent p2p internal websites where people having to give up on non-refundable tickets could advertise them and recoup the value of the tickets up to what they have paid, minus a reasonable and sensible service fee (say, $20 or 10%). Rental vacations on occasions like Thanksgiving operate pretty much the same way: people book in advance because the best properties (or any property) sells out well before the holiday. Chris what part of non-refundable was not clear? And yes, in cases where something perishable (airline ticket, cruise ticket, private vacation rentals, etc) you SHOULD consider what happens if… and take appropriate action: get insurance or chose a different option. Bob I voted no, but have a qualification to that. Anyway, this is like the time I bought a ticket to a Willie Nelson concert and then decided the day before not to go because I had the flu. Too bad for me! The qualification is if the OP has a recording of her discussion with the EMR customer service rep. I think companies should be held accountable for what their phone reps say, and if a reasonable, unbiased person would hear the conversation in context and think “no problem” meant “we’ll send you a refund”, then EMR should send a refund. jennj99738 Yes, in Washington State, at the end of November, you should plan for possible weather issues like snow. It appears that it wasn’t even the case that Ms. Somerfield could not drive to the rental home– it was her family. She should have driven up and then hoped her family could make it later on which it appears they could have. The fact that you would rather strong arm the company by canceling the credit card instead of upholding your contract is why I side with the travel provider even in some close cases (which this isn’t) because if you, David, thought of this then others do it too. Guest I do agree with EMR here, but want to point out that snow storms in Victoria are not that common. I have no idea what the forecast said, but heavy rain is a much more frequent occurance. All the comments that she should have expected snow that time of year aren’t really right. You Don’t Say Uh, no. As stated in the OP: “We had chosen the property in part because it listed a 2 car garage as one of the amenities. Given that we were going at Christmas, when snow was a distinct possibility, that amenity was one of the reasons that particular property was chosen.” The OP thought there would be snow and selected a property that listed a two car garage as an amenity. Mdkalman Would travel insurance have really helped in this case? Show me an actual policy with a covered reason the OP could have used in this case. She MIGHT have been able to get SOMETHING back with a Cancel for any Reason policy but she very easily could have gotten burned by common exclusions (e.g. minimum cancellation window is usually > 2 days; pre-existing conditions: possibility of snow may have been in weather forecasts at the time of booking;) Bob The recommendation to purchase insurance is a red herring. Absolutely nothing prevented Somerville from using her rental property reservation, so insurance would never have covered this. Only a cancel for any reason policy would have covered this event. Somerville changed her mind on the trip and attempted to cancel. She claims that EMR promised a refund, but she also claimed that the roads were impassible. It turns out the roads were cleared, so she (ahem) misled you, Chris. I’m inclined to think that she either did not understand what the EMR rep was telling her, or she is outright lying. Chris, why did you even publish this? web/gadget guru I rented a beach house on the North Shore a few weeks ago through a realestate company and yes, I had to sign a contract, and yes, the contract clearly outlined the conditions of cancellation. Although, my contract said that if they were able to rent the unit after my cancelation, then they would remove what rent they get from my lost deposit. There are specific rules about renting a house that are not like staying at a hotel. If you want that, then stay at a hotel, otherwise, the benefits for staying in a house far outweigh the contractual stipulations! Joe Farrell Who promised a refund? What the company said was that the cancellation would be no problem. The OP here made an assumption about what the words ‘no problem’ meant. It was no problem to cancel her reservation – no one said anything about a refund. She made an assumption about what it mean but why was there any basis to make that assumption? I’ll tell you why – its what she wanted it to mean. . .. She agreed to a contract – now while it may not be good for REPEAT business to allow a cancellation when someone cannot make it due to weather as significant as this here – if you allow the cancellation you will make up the money later on and may have a permanent customer. If you cancel and keep the money you lose a customer permanently – even if it is customary for all companies to operate the same way. Vacation real estate has marketing costs – every person you get to rent had some cost to market to in order to get that booking. If you have happy, repeat clients you get bookings with ZERO additional marketing cost which adds to your bottom line. A business can allow waiver or not. I have to tell you, that as a former resident of snow country, snow does not scare me. I supposed if I were a resident of the Desert or California driving up to Canada the chance of a bad snowstorm might scare me enough to think I’d never get there – but – even in a really bad nor’easter the roads are only impassable for a few hours – Charles B The point of this type of contract is that you pay the money for the promise of them holding the property for your use and not give it away to another customer. The property holder did exactly that. That is what she paid for, and that is why the credit card company agreed that it was a fair charge. The fact that she didn’t use the property is her decision. Admittedly the weather may have played a part. Had the rental company been able to resell the time slot it seems clear they’d have refunded her money. That didn’t happen, so they have done nothing wrong to owe her compensation. Lindabator No she doesn’t – you need to re-read this. She said when she called back that she got the tape recorder response of That’s Our policy. The only thing she actually DOES have is the contract she signed – so no leg to stand on. noah The policy says they don’t refund money already paid. The story seems to suggest that they charged her AFTER she cancelled. How is this consistent with that policy? Carver How do you know that the roads were clear besides EMR’s e-mail? That’s a he said she said sccenario. Either could be right or wrong. Carver Joe As a fellow attorney, I would argue that the phrase no problem is an implicit waiver of the contractual terms. Otherwise the words are meaningless. Jamie Q Agreed. EMR is a business, not a charity. Not much of a business if they give out money to every bonehead who complains that they bought something that they didn’t read the contract for. flutiefan so the OP *could* have gotten there easily, but chose not to, since others in her party didn’t think they’d be able to make it? and this is the rental property’s fault? i don’t think so. Joe Farrell I know you would Carver – and so would I – but at the end of the day the CANCELLATION was – as she said – no problem . . . Michael K If the OP is telling the truth, then it is the rental company’s fault that one of its employees made assurances that were not honored. We don’t know for certain that it would have made a difference, but it’s plausible that the OP could have convinced her family to eventually come for at least part of the holiday weekend or that the OP would have travelled without her family if she believed her deposit would be forfeited regardless. Nancy Marine Dickinson It seems I came late to the party and all I can add is, “Mental note: Never rent from this property management company.” With a column like this, the bad press received will cost them much more than returning the OPs money, contract or no contract. Guest “No problem” Ironically that creates a problem on itself. When a customer calls his/her provider to cancel, they likely (and actually) mean to say, “Please don’t charge me also”, even if they’ll still be billed. Then when the provider says there’s “no problem” to cancel, the customer likely assumes there’ll no be no charge or will be refunded. And some of you know what can happen when you assume… Nowadays, it pays to be specific. What the OP ought to have done is at least ask what’ll happen if they cancel before doing it outright. Likewise, that provider should’ve specifically stated what’ll likewise occur if they cancel even if the customer didn’t exactly ask that bit. It might cause issues, but at least it can make things arguably clear before any action is taken. Other than that, nothing more to add on top of what the others have said, especially documenting what was said and done or about to be. Michael K Two can play silly word games. If you read the rental company’s policy just as literally, there is nothing which states they can charge the guest’s credit card AFTER they cancel (which is what the OP alleges happened): If the Guest cancels inside 45 days from the check-in date and fails to pay the balance due, there will be no refunds of any funds received. Joe Farrell Michael – there is other language on the same page: http://www.emrvacationrentals.com/policies.ihtml which states that payment in full is due 45 days before arrival – thus – you will have paid the entire cost of lodgings meaning that they will have paid the entire amount – thus – there is no refund of any amount paid – so your little ‘ah ha!’ is typical of non-lawyers who fail to read the entire contract and understand how it works – because contracts are nothing BUT word games. . . Michael K You’re assuming they actually charged her card up front. Which doesn’t sound like what happened (they eventually charged Somerville’s credit card $684) If the property didn’t exercise the contract terms you cite, not within 45 days, not when the OP called and they said “No Problem” and not when they “cancelled” her reservation, then there is no need for the OP to ask for a “refund of any amount paid.” Pauletteb The OP may not have been entirely truthful, but the snarky response from EMR tells me this is a company I’ll never do business with.