Connexions Loyalty Conspiring with Citi to Deny Promised Refund

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Jun 23, 2020
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TL;DR version: I called the travel agency 3 times and got confirmation twice that the booking was cancelled and that a COVID-19 exception will be made for refunding non-refundable hotel stay. Never received the money, initiated chargeback after 2 months. Citibank sided with the (affiliated) merchant because they used my original non-refundable booking as support and claimed "we have had no contact with the cardholder and we have not agreed to issue any refund".

The Full Rundown:

I booked a 4-night hotel stay at Hotel 50 Bowery NYC via Citi Concierge at thankyou.com (which Citi outsources to Connexions Loyalty Inc) on 12/26/19 and paid $586.66.

I sought to cancel as COVID-19 was breaking out.
  1. I first called on 3/10/20 and was advised to call back closer to my travel date (3/27).
  2. I next called Connextions via Citi Concierge on 3/22, and after 3 hours on hold, was told the hotel had closed for the day, but that a case has been created for Connexions to contact the hotel and to expect a refund in 2 weeks.
  3. I called again on 3/24 to confirm and after another 3 hours (understandably) on hold, I was told by an agent (code KO) that Connexions had connected with the hotel and to expect the refund in 2 weeks.

Another month passed and I had not seen a credit to my account, so I disputed the $586.66 charge with Citi on 4/25/20. On 6/17/20, Citi informed me that they had resolved the dispute in favor of Connexions Loyalty Inc.

Of course I vehemently disagree with the resolution, as:

  1. I had paid for a service using Citi's affiliate as an intermediary.
  2. The merchant did not remit the payment to the hotel,
  3. The merchant's rep had told me over the phone twice that the hotel is accommodating cancellations for non-refundable rates due to COVID-19.
  4. The merchant had confirmed that the reservation was cancelled before the check-in date.
  5. The merchant promised twice to refund me over the phone.

Adding insult to injury, on 6/22/20, Citi uploaded documentation from Connexion, who state “We have had no contact with the cardholder and we have not agreed to issue any refund”. This is a blatant lie, and had I known the lack of integrity from these businesses, I would have recorded our conversations. I do have phone records of twice contacting and being on the phone for hours with Connexions to disprove their claim of “have had no contact”. Citi's letter also says I'd have to provide email proof of CX Loyalty agreeing to the refund if I want to reopen the dispute. I do not have written proof...

I believe Citi conspired with their affiliate Connexions Loyalty to deny me of a refund to keep their affiliate afloat in this tough business climate, but tough is no excuse to be unethical. I have shown goodwill throughout the process and have been met with nothing but delay and deceit. None of the services I paid for were rendered and two agents from Connexions had verbally promised me refunds over the phone.

I am seeking help to have Connexions to honor their promise to refund me, or have Citi resolve the dispute in my favor and reverse the credit card charge. How should I proceed?

Thank you all in advance.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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1) When was your stay? yes, is makes a difference if your stay was in June 2020 versus December 2020. The assumption is the stay was in June 2020, but you never stated it explicitly.
2) What is your proof? Can you document the date and time that you called the travel agency? (do you have a phone record showing the date and time) Do you have the name or the agent number of the agent that you spoke to? Do you have a cancellation number? Did you receive any written confirmation that the reservation was indeed cancelled.
3) There is no conspiracy.When a dispute is initiated, Citibank will ask for a merchant response. They have simply got the statement from Connexions and based on Connexions statement, they made a decision. Your beef is with Connexions. Citibank will need some proof from you.

So, do you have any proof that the statement from Connexions is incorrect?
If you do, then appeal to Citibank in written communication
If you don't, then I would advise you to go in a different direction. I would appeal to Connexions in written communication

However, more details are needed before I can offer any meaningful advice.

Given the COVID-19 situation in NYC, it would be ill advised for you to have taken the trip. Unless you were a health care worker or had an emergent need to be in NYC, you did the right thing to cancel, and you should have gotten a refund.

For everyone else reading this, the above case stresses the importance of WRITTEN communication. If you opt to go via phone conversation, always document in your records the date and time of your call, as well as the name or agent number of the person you spoke with. Otherwise you may not have any proof. When you make a reservation, always document your RESERVATION NUMBER (because names can be misspelled) and when you cancel, always document a CANCELLATION number.
 
Jun 23, 2020
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Sorry I missed this. The trip was for 3/27-3/31. The cancellation policy was non-refundable at the time of the booking.
 
Jun 23, 2020
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1) When was your stay? yes, is makes a difference if your stay was in June 2020 versus December 2020. The assumption is the stay was in June 2020, but you never stated it explicitly.
2) What is your proof? Can you document the date and time that you called the travel agency? (do you have a phone record showing the date and time) Do you have the name or the agent number of the agent that you spoke to? Do you have a cancellation number? Did you receive any written confirmation that the reservation was indeed cancelled.
3) There is no conspiracy.When a dispute is initiated, Citibank will ask for a merchant response. They have simply got the statement from Connexions and based on Connexions statement, they made a decision. Your beef is with Connexions. Citibank will need some proof from you.

So, do you have any proof that the statement from Connexions is incorrect?
If you do, then appeal to Citibank in written communication
If you don't, then I would advise you to go in a different direction. I would appeal to Connexions in written communication

However, more details are needed before I can offer any meaningful advice.

Given the COVID-19 situation in NYC, it would be ill advised for you to have taken the trip. Unless you were a health care worker or had an emergent need to be in NYC, you did the right thing to cancel, and you should have gotten a refund.

For everyone else reading this, the above case stresses the importance of WRITTEN communication. If you opt to go via phone conversation, always document in your records the date and time of your call, as well as the name or agent number of the person you spoke with. Otherwise you may not have any proof. When you make a reservation, always document your RESERVATION NUMBER (because names can be misspelled) and when you cancel, always document a CANCELLATION number.
Hi Chris,

1) The stay was for 3/27-3/30 of 2020.
2) I learned my lesson here. I do have phone record of the very long calls with date and time, but nothing in writing.
 
Jun 23, 2020
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Unfortunately, this is the problem with booking non-refundable rates. They are really non-refundable.

Have you asked Citibank to pull the phone records?
No I have not. I think the agents work for Connexions, even though every time I had to call thru a Citi number. CX claimed in their dispute documentation with Citi that they "never had contact with the cardholder". The hotel is under the Hyatt umbrella and at that time Hyatt was already accommodating cancellation of non-refundable rates in COVID-19 affected areas. I would have made the trip if the reps did not promise the refunds.
 
Jun 23, 2020
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The second and third time I called, both agents confirmed that I had called in previously about a refund. I wonder if they actively wiped the written record on their side. I am going to test my luck and call in to ask about my refund. This time I will record the conversation.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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Someone can correct me, but NYC went into lockdown on March 22, 2020. I am certain that you would not have been able to legally use your reservation even if you wanted to.

Is Connexions claiming that you are a "no show" and that is the basis as to why they are keeping your deposit?

I would contact Connexions IN WRITING but change the direction of your letter to include
- I called Connextions on 3/22/2020 to inquire about my reservation at the Hotel 50 Bowery NYC on 3/27/2020, as I was aware that a stay-at-home order was issued for NY state by Governor Cuomo.
- I was given verbal reassurance by the CSR that the reservation would be cancelled and I would receive a full refund without penalty
- I called again on 3/24/2020 and was again given reassurance that I would be refunded, considering that I could not legally travel to the hotel and abide by the NY stay at home order

To date, I have not received a refund. Connexions is now claiming that the reason I have not received a refund is that I did not "notify" them. I respectfully disagree. I understand that both the hotel and Hyatt have authorized refunds for reservations given the COVID outbreak, therefore, I respectfully request the full refund of my charges.
 
Jun 23, 2020
6
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Someone can correct me, but NYC went into lockdown on March 22, 2020. I am certain that you would not have been able to legally use your reservation even if you wanted to.

Is Connexions claiming that you are a "no show" and that is the basis as to why they are keeping your deposit?

I would contact Connexions IN WRITING but change the direction of your letter to include
- I called Connextions on 3/22/2020 to inquire about my reservation at the Hotel 50 Bowery NYC on 3/27/2020, as I was aware that a stay-at-home order was issued for NY state by Governor Cuomo.
- I was given verbal reassurance by the CSR that the reservation would be cancelled and I would receive a full refund without penalty
- I called again on 3/24/2020 and was again given reassurance that I would be refunded, considering that I could not legally travel to the hotel and abide by the NY stay at home order

To date, I have not received a refund. Connexions is now claiming that the reason I have not received a refund is that I did not "notify" them. I respectfully disagree. I understand that both the hotel and Hyatt have authorized refunds for reservations given the COVID outbreak, therefore, I respectfully request the full refund of my charges.
Thank you Chris!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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22,850
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
Someone can correct me, but NYC went into lockdown on March 22, 2020. I am certain that you would not have been able to legally use your reservation even if you wanted to.

Is Connexions claiming that you are a "no show" and that is the basis as to why they are keeping your deposit?

I would contact Connexions IN WRITING but change the direction of your letter to include
- I called Connextions on 3/22/2020 to inquire about my reservation at the Hotel 50 Bowery NYC on 3/27/2020, as I was aware that a stay-at-home order was issued for NY state by Governor Cuomo.
- I was given verbal reassurance by the CSR that the reservation would be cancelled and I would receive a full refund without penalty
- I called again on 3/24/2020 and was again given reassurance that I would be refunded, considering that I could not legally travel to the hotel and abide by the NY stay at home order

To date, I have not received a refund. Connexions is now claiming that the reason I have not received a refund is that I did not "notify" them. I respectfully disagree. I understand that both the hotel and Hyatt have authorized refunds for reservations given the COVID outbreak, therefore, I respectfully request the full refund of my charges.
This is an excellent letter. And include that agent code as the person you spoke to.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,691
10,485
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San Francisco
I'm glad my colleagues have given you some good advice. I do plenty of booking with Chase Ultimate Rewards/Expedia and have great faith in Chase' customer service. I have absolutely no faith in Expedia; I nearly fainted when I heard they'd taken over the URs booking. So far, so good. But I've never booked a non-ref anything. I don't think you're looking at a conspiracy, you're looking at incompetence and overworked staff. I think you will get your refund, I think things have been so chaotic everywhere that phone agents are completely overwhelmed. They're trained to "get us off the phone as fast as possible" but now it's probably much worse with the high volume of calls. And people aren't very nice to the CSRs after waiting on hold forever. If you compose a polite, concise email (your issue can be stated in a few paragraphs) and start with the booking service, you may not even need to contact Citi. But they're there to protect you, I assume they value their card-holders and want to keep them happy. No more phone calls, handle this all in writing, and be patient. I have a September hotel res that I need to cancel and Chase won't even take the cancellation yet. People really are working under less than good environments these days. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
 
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