I want a full refund for this Mexico vacation

Studioartz/Shutterstock
Studioartz/Shutterstock
Marnie Bute didn’t enjoy the Mexican getaway she booked through Sun Country Vacations. Actually, that may be an understatement. She hated it and she wants every penny refunded.

Normally, when someone asks for a full refund, it triggers a predictable amount of eye-rolling here in the office. It couldn’t have been that bad, we say to ourselves.

Then we read her story.

It begins with a frantic note to Sun Country on the day of Bute’s arrival at the Royal Decameron Los Cabos resort in San Jose Del Cabo.
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Help, my Mexican vacation rental pocketed my deposit!

Blue Orange/ShutterstockNancie Thomas had no reason to believe the owner of her vacation rental in Akumal, Mexico, would keep her $1,000 deposit. Her friends had rented the same house on three separate occasions, “and had a great experience each time,” she says.

Alas, the fourth time wasn’t a charm for Thomas.

Her first warning? The method of payment.

“We were surprised when the owner asked for a deposit check rather than credit card,” she recalls. “But we confirmed with our friends that they had always made the deposit by check.”

(Let me stop right here and say it: Always, always insist on paying by credit card. If Thomas had done that, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.)
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Who’s to blame for this timeshare disaster?

Alysta/Shutterstock
Alysta/Shutterstock
Consumer advocate William Leeper recently accepted a “Mission Impossible” case involving a questionable timeshare purchase in Mexico. What’s that? We had you at “timeshare”? But it gets worse. Much worse. I’ll let him explain.

Today’s timeshare story comes from reader Mark Golder and the timeshare he bought — or thought he bought — from Grand Solmar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I’ll let him pick up the story.
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Do I deserve a refund after my destination turned dangerous?

Deep blue/Shutterstock
Deep blue/Shutterstock
Diane Austin’s problem isn’t that unusual, which is why I’ve decided to write something about it. In April, she booked a $730 roundtrip ticket in April through Orbitz on American Airlines to fly to Puerto Vallarta.

The purpose of her visit? To volunteer in a school in Tepic, Mexico, for two weeks. In order to cover her fare, Austin’s 80-year-old father used money from her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother’s bank account. After all, it was for a good cause.

But the trip wasn’t meant to be. When her partner arrived in Tepic a few days ahead of her, she says the area turned suddenly unsafe.
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Not so funny money tricks the travel industry likes to play

Maks Narondeko/Shutterstock
Maks Narondeko/Shutterstock

Hold on to your wallet. Businesses don’t just want to get their hands on your cash when you’re on the road — they also want more of your money, and on their terms.

Take what happened to Gordon Angell when he was visiting La Paz, Mexico, recently. Many restaurants in town display the “Visa” and “MasterCard” stickers, signifying that they accept credit cards.

But on Angell’s first evening, after finishing a meal at a restaurant, his server informed him the credit card machine didn’t work, and pointed to an ATM. He paid in pesos.

“The following evening we went to another restaurant called The Three Virgins,” he says. “We made sure that we asked them if they accepted credit cards and they said ‘yes.’ Surprisingly, when we offered to pay our bill, it was a repeat of the previous evening. Their machine was ‘not working.’ They told us to use the ATM.”
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