Emily Radocha pays a $250 security deposit on a vacation rental through Booking.com with the understanding that she’ll get it back. But she never does. Can Booking.com just keep her money?

Q: I recently booked a reservation on Booking.com at Pelican Stay, a furnished apartment building in Portland’s Pearl District. I paid the owner a security deposit of $250, which was to be returned to me no longer than 30 days after my stay. After 30 days I checked with Booking.com to find out what happened to the refund since I hadn’t received it. Booking.com tried to help me but has also had no success.

 I would like my $250 security deposit back. Booking.com has suggested that I file a credit card dispute, but I can’t do that since I’m past the 90-day window for a dispute. Can you help? — Emily Radocha, Kalamazoo, Michigan

A: You should have received your refund by now. And if the apartment owner or manager couldn’t send it back, Booking.com or your credit card should have been able to help.

I think I know why you’ve experienced such unreasonable delays. Your stay happened just as the pandemic started. Everything was chaotic, and refunds were taking longer than expected across the board. Of course, this is no excuse — but it may explain why Booking.com couldn’t get the merchant’s attention. The world had just been turned upside down.

Indeed, when you reached out to Pelican Stay, you received a polite note that apologized for the delay, which it blamed on the coronavirus outbreak. It said your refund “might be processed after 30 days due to quarantine order within our area.” But that was in March 2020. Should it have taken this long?


No, it shouldn’t. And by the way, that 60-day limit for filing a credit card dispute, which is required under the Fair Credit Billing Act, doesn’t mean your credit card company can’t get involved in a dispute. Credit card issuers don’t have to accept disputes that go back more than 60 days. But they often do.

I can’t believe Booking.com wouldn’t help you with this. You were more than patient, and your emails to the company were polite. I guess Booking.com just sees itself as the middleman, and that you have to take up any disputes directly with the merchant. Maybe next time you should consider working with a travel adviser who can advocate for you.

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Booking.com executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. You could have sent a brief email to one of the managers, appealing this case.

I contacted Pelican Stay on your behalf, and it refunded your $250. Better late than never!