fradulent charges

Why was Mom’s card charged for my ticket?

Martin V./Shutterstock
Martin V./Shutterstock
Question: My husband and I recently flew from Mexico City to Fiji for our honeymoon. One leg of our flight between Los Angeles and Fiji was canceled by United Airlines. We booked tickets on a different airline for that portion of our trip.

Due to bad weather, our return flight from Fiji to Los Angeles was delayed 24 hours and we missed our connection to Mexico City on United Airlines. As soon as I knew we would be missing our flight I called a United representative, who rebooked us for a flight the next day. I paid a $150 change fee per ticket. I understand this charge and am fine with this transaction.
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Happy St. Patrick’s Day — here’s your cleaning bill!

Here’s a story with more disappointments than the college basketball invitational. Shortly after Mary Van Veen returned her Budget rental in Ireland, she discovered a surprise $174 charge on her credit card. She contacted the car rental agency, which told her “the car was extremely dirty and they had to pay a valet to clean it.”

Did Van Veen trash her vehicle? She says she didn’t.

The car was in normal condition when returned. Not spotless, but certainly not excessively dirty. We emptied all trash prior to returning it. There was no mention of any abnormal conditions when the car was returned.

Van Veen asked for evidence that the mess was her fault. Budget sent her a receipt for a valet cleaning service that was dated several days after she had returned her car. She forwarded a copy of the handwritten invoice to me. It says:

Found interior of car to be very dirty. Both seats and carpets. Wash both seats and carpets. Clean interior.

Van Veen said she didn’t do it, and Budget agreed to cut her bill in half. Which struck me as a strange thing to do. Either she trashed the car, or she didn’t.

I also found the timing of the invoice to be a little odd. Did Budget wait several days to clean the car, and if so, can it be certain that Van Veen was the responsible party?

Van Veen thinks it’s a scam. “In my view, this is a fraudulent practice by Budget designed to take advantage of consumers who are obviously not resident in UK and who do not have the time and resources to fight back,” she told me, adding, “Any advice would be appreciated.”

My view? It’s not a scam. I think Budget probably doesn’t know exactly who messed up the vehicle, only that it needed to be cleaned. It probably made a guess. Why else would it reduce the bill?

I would dispute the full charge on the credit card bill. The invoice is insufficient proof that Van Veen was a messy motorist.