Is Expedia Responsible for Refund if Charge Was From LATAM Airlines? No Refunds 4 Mos. After Flight Cancellations.

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Sep 28, 2020
16
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In January, I purchased three flights from LATAM Airlines via Expedia for April travel. On my credit card statement, the charges were from LATAM and not Expedia. In April, LATAM cancelled the flights due to COVID, and Expedia told me I could only use vouchers for rebooking, as a refund was not available (even though US law explicitly provides for refunds when the airline cancels). I rebooked for August, and unbeknownst to me, LATAM cancelled all my flights again in mid-May/early June but no one told me. In July, I discovered the cancellations when I called Expedia, and this time I requested a refund. LATAM's rules require the "travel agent" Expedia to request the refund, which they finally did. Although LATAM says on their US website that credit card refunds will be issued within 7 days per US law, they haven't refunded me after multiple months. Each time I called, they said they would only talk to Expedia and it would just take two more days (even though the online status showed no one had opened my requests after a month).

I filed a credit card vendor dispute for a merchant chargeback, but the credit card company is dragging their feet and saying they can't really do anything since LATAM hasn't actually denied me a refund, even if US law requires a refund within 7 days, and they also said if a merchant offers an alternative like a voucher, then they can't really get involved and it's something I should take up in small claims court. I emailed LATAM's executives, and they just assigned someone to write me every week and say they are working on it as soon as possible. I filed a Department of Transportation claim a month ago, but haven't heard anything due to the COVID backlog.

Now LATAM has written that they can't refund my credit card as I booked through a travel agent, but they are willing to send me a wire. They asked for the wire info via non-secure email, and it was sketchy how they asked for both domestic ACH and international wire info--they should just ask for one or the other, and they were asking for irrelevant info like my passport number (which they already have), driver's license number, etc. Given their disreputable behavior so far, I don't want to give them any of this information, especially since they didn't say how quickly they would process the wire, international wires cost $15 apiece and there are three refunds, and if I don't win my credit card dispute, I'll actually owe interest on the provisional credits. LATAM also offered an option to get vouchers that I could wire to myself, which also sounds questionable. I don't know if they are just wasting my time to drag out the refund processing time, or trying to get me to accept something I don't want to waive my right to a credit card refund.

I was looking at the US regulations again, and it seems that if I booked through a travel agent, then maybe it's the travel agent--not the airline--who has to refund me. But Expedia never took my money--the charge was directly from LATAM--and Expedia has refused to do anything more than file the refund requests, which they only did after I spent many hours on the phone demanding supervisor assistance. After all these months, who actually owes me the refund? And is my credit card company correct that they can't do anything?
 

Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
1,008
2,090
even if US law requires a refund within 7 days
I can assure you that most people are not getting any refunds in 7 days, not in 21 days and not in 30 days. Most I know had the refunds in around 60 days , some in 90 days. So your expectations here are way too high. DOT or not. Think of it this way I owe you 20.00 and I lose all my money. So when you ask me for your 20 back what options do I have. I tell you as soon as I get some money in I will repay you . It is the same with the airlines or Expedia. Further since you filed a reversal with your credit card company , the airlines or Expedia will no longer refund you. You would have to win your credit card dispute or call the credit card company and cancel the dispute and get proof you did to show the Airlines or Expedia.
Next point is that since you booked with an OTA ( online travel agent) you are bound by the OTA's rules. This can mean that even if the Airlines would refund 100% of what you paid , the OTA would only have to give you what ever the terms you agreed on when you purchased this ticket. This could be a fraction of what you paid or could include processing fees. You should go back and read the terms that Expedia had when you bought the ticket.
Even if you get a temporary credit with your CC, it could be reversed. My card gave the airline 60 days to refute the charge reversal. If they do and the CC agrees the CC will recharge you for the credit they gave you.
The last thing because you booked with a OTA you might lose some of your DOT protections.
So to escalate your claims you might have problems since you filed a dispute.
Expedia contacts.
How to:
 
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Sep 28, 2020
16
5
I can assure you that most people are not getting any refunds in 7 days, not in 21 days and not in 30 days. Most I know had the refunds in around 60 days , some in 90 days. So your expectations here are way too high. DOT or not. Think of it this way I owe you 20.00 and I lose all my money. So when you ask me for your 20 back what options do I have. I tell you as soon as I get some money in I will repay you . It is the same with the airlines or Expedia. Further since you filed a reversal with your credit card company , the airlines or Expedia will no longer refund you. You would have to win your credit card dispute or call the credit card company and cancel the dispute and get proof you did to show the Airlines or Expedia.
Next point is that since you booked with an OTA ( online travel agent) you are bound by the OTA's rules. This can mean that even if the Airlines would refund 100% of what you paid , the OTA would only have to give you what ever the terms you agreed on when you purchased this ticket. This could be a fraction of what you paid or could include processing fees. You should go back and read the terms that Expedia had when you bought the ticket.
Even if you get a temporary credit with your CC, it could be reversed. My card gave the airline 60 days to refute the charge reversal. If they do and the CC agrees the CC will recharge you for the credit they gave you.
The last thing because you booked with a OTA you might lose some of your DOT protections.
So to escalate your claims you might have problems since you filed a dispute.
Expedia contacts.
How to:

Thanks for your response. So it has been 4.5 months since my flights were cancelled (without notifying me, possibly stranding me had I not checked) and more than 2 months since I requested the refunds.

I was wondering why you say the airline will no longer refund me now that I filed for a chargeback? If they refund me, then they can say the vendor dispute has been resolved and end all their problems at once? I also told them I filed a complaint with the DoT--so they can resolve three problems at once?

The DoT website says:

What if I purchased or reserved my ticket through a travel agent or online travel agency?
  • The refund/reservation requirement for airlines does not apply to tickets booked through online travel agencies, travel agents, or other third-party agents. However, these agents are free to apply the same or similar procedures to provide equivalent or similar customer service. Ok you explained Expedia might have different rules.
  • If you purchased your ticket through an online travel agency (or other agent), you should contact the travel agent directly to obtain a refund before contacting the airline. I did contact Expedia first, and they said they couldn't do anything. The charge on my card was by LATAM, not Expedia--this seems to be key but I'm not sure what to do about it?
How quickly is an airline, travel agent, or online travel agency required to process a refund?
  • If a passenger is owed a refund, an airline, travel agent, or online travel agency must process it within seven business days if the passenger paid by credit card, and 20 business days if the passenger paid by cash or check. I will try to find Expedia terms and ask Expedia executives to escalate.
 
Last edited:

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
The DOT rules only apply if you book directly but travel agencies have the option to refund you IF they get the refund back from the airline. Most are so don’t rule that out but Expedia cannot refund you unless the airline refunds them. And so far it appears the airline has not.

The DOT filing can force the airline to refund back to Expedia so hope that filing works.

When a dispute is filed, it’s not as simple to get money back from the airline. The cc company will withdraw the funds from the airlines account and the airline will no longer have that money to provide a refund if they win the cc case because they say they will to refund. That money often gets stuck in between the cc company and the supplier and requires you to actually cancel the dispute so the cc company can redeposit the funds with the airline so they can refund.

It shouldn’t happen that way but we are seeing many cases that it is happening in.
 
Sep 28, 2020
16
5
The DOT rules only apply if you book directly but travel agencies have the option to refund you IF they get the refund back from the airline. Most are so don’t rule that out but Expedia cannot refund you unless the airline refunds them. And so far it appears the airline has not.

The DOT filing can force the airline to refund back to Expedia so hope that filing works.

When a dispute is filed, it’s not as simple to get money back from the airline. The cc company will withdraw the funds from the airlines account and the airline will no longer have that money to provide a refund if they win the cc case because they say they will to refund. That money often gets stuck in between the cc company and the supplier and requires you to actually cancel the dispute so the cc company can redeposit the funds with the airline so they can refund.

It shouldn’t happen that way but we are seeing many cases that it is happening in.

Thanks Neil. What do you recommend re: next steps? Wait until I lose the chargeback dispute--if I withdraw it, how will I know LATAM will actually do something now, given the flights were cancelled all the way back in May? Give my bank details to try to accept the wire LATAM is offering (but it may just be a delay tactic that stretches out more months)? Ask LATAM to wire the funds to Expedia so Expedia can refund me? But how will Expedia refund me if they aren't the ones who charged me--I don't want an Expedia voucher?
 
Sep 28, 2020
16
5
It seems the "wire" option LATAM suggested is just a way to stick people in a new never-ending queue to let them hold onto your money a few more months (this happened even pre-pandemic): https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTop...3-o10-LATAM_not_paying_refund-Air_Travel.html I told them this was not an acceptable alternative to a credit card refund since my credit card clearly shows they were the ones who charged me, so they can reverse the charge.

I wrote the customer service executive at Expedia and she just had someone send me an automated response saying wait times are long and they'll contact me when they're done (i.e., don't bother to follow up).

Many companies are blaming the pandemic, but by comparison, JetBlue immediately fulfilled my request to refund a nonrefundable fare after they changed my flight by more than two hours. I find there are two kinds of companies during the pandemic--the kind that continues to operate in a timely manner, and the kind that uses the pandemic as an excuse.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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Virgin Atlantic canceled my flights back in May, and I finally got my refund yesterday, 4 months later. On the other hand, BA canceled my September flights and I had my refund within a week. Some airlines are managing their dwindling capital better than others. Right now, you have to be patient.
 
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Sep 28, 2020
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@Carrie and @Globetrottingal--the evidence shows that LATAM was making people wait months and even *years* for their refunds even before the pandemic, moving people from one bucket to another and making them wait months in each bucket, restarting the clock and changing the rules each time they move you internally. Since I have to wait months/years anyway, I think it's better to sit in the same bucket rather than letting them confuse things further.
 
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Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
1,008
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Does the fact that the airline is in chapter 11 bankruptcy help them avoid paying?
I surely would not take a voucher till they are out of bankruptcy.
 
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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
3,468
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Maui Hawaii
Does the fact that the airline is in chapter 11 bankruptcy help them avoid paying?
I surely would not take a voucher till they are out of bankruptcy.
 
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Sep 28, 2020
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LATAM's bad behavior precedes this current bankruptcy. They have had time to perfect the art of not paying people (but for certain areas in South America, they are the safest and most on time option if your flight isn't cancelled). After reading various complaints people had over the years, here's how a bad scenario potentially could go:
1. Wait a few months, finally get someone to open your refund request.
2. Get a voucher to wire to yourself, but discover voucher is incorrect amount, wait in the queue to correct amount.
3. Discover voucher can't be wired to the country you live in, wait to use it instead.
4. Discover voucher can't be applied to taxes and fees.
5. Discover voucher expired in 6 months instead of 12 like they told you, wait for voucher to be reissued.
6. No one can find your case number because you've been moved around so much, start over.

In my case, for instance, I did get Expedia to file the refund requests, and at that time they could have arranged for Expedia to refund me, but they deliberately waited 2 months (and that's after my escalation efforts) to say they couldn't refund me as Expedia was involved. And that's after the original two months they didn't tell me about the cancellations, delaying my attempts to get a refund. In fact, they cancelled my flights the day after I booked them, months ahead of time, making me wonder whether they had ever intended to fly those dates or if it's a way to trap people's money in their system.
 
Nov 20, 2018
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This was direct with LATAM but I recently received a refund directly into my US bank account via ACH transfer. The process is to fill out their online form and you are then issued in a couple of days a voucher. With this voucher, you again fill out an online form to receive a cash refund to the bank account of your choice. I received mine in less than two weeks.

They are currently and surprisingly among the better refunders at the moment.


 
Jul 2, 2018
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Like a lot of other people, I have learned the hard way that using an online travel agent (OTA) MIGHT appear cheaper or easier in the beginning but in the long run it only causes more problems.
Try adding luggage, changing dates of flights or another request if you have used an OTA and it is virtually impossible. Book directly with an airline or hotel and it is easier. Not always possible but far easier than trying with an online travel agent.

So nowadays, even if they offer what appears to be cheaper prices, I avoid them wherever possible. Booking direct is they way to go.

Jerry
 
Sep 28, 2020
16
5
This was direct with LATAM but I recently received a refund directly into my US bank account via ACH transfer. The process is to fill out their online form and you are then issued in a couple of days a voucher. With this voucher, you again fill out an online form to receive a cash refund to the bank account of your choice. I received mine in less than two weeks.

They are currently and surprisingly among the better refunders at the moment.



Thanks for the info. I took a look at your helpful links and the responses are inconsistent. Some people received their refunds in a reasonable time and others did not. Here are some possible factors:

1. Which country you are wiring the funds to (seems you are based in Chile and may have a Chilean account);
2. There seems to be some talk that at one point around May they were giving themselves one month and now they are giving themselves one year to process refunds;
3. Your LATAM/affiliate elite status might affect it;
4. If they just want to hold onto people's money as millions of dollars of interest-free microloans, they could randomly refund some people on time to give the appearance that they are trying their best but just can't due to the volume of requests due to their constantly posting and cancelling flights they aren't actually flying (obviously I don't have the resources to prove their motivation). Posters say they and their friend filed at same time with different results, for instance.

I received a communication from the DoT that they have no jurisdiction over my LATAM complaint as the airports were all in foreign countries. My credit card denied my chargeback requests (have not received explanations). So I may have no choice other than to try the voucher wire. Will think on it.
 
Nov 20, 2018
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If you can obtain the LATAM ticket number/s and reservation code/s, give this a try:


If that does'nt work, you must first select your country then the above link again or go through the link on this page:

 
Last edited:
Sep 28, 2020
16
5
If you can obtain the LATAM ticket number/s and reservation code/s, give this a try:


If that does'nt work, you must first select your country then the above link again or go through the link on this page:

Thanks--I already have three refund requests pending since July. After two months of escalation, they suggested that I give them my bank information both international wire and domestic ACH, even though they will obviously only use one method, as well as my driver's license info, and a bunch of other confidential information they don't need, over non-secure email. Then when I asked how long that process would take, among other questions, they refused to answer. Many people on the Internet have waited months or more than a year after providing their bank information to LATAM (both pre- and post-pandemic) and not received any funds. I will take your positive experience into consideration, but it's countered by the many bad experiences of other people, and I've listed possible factors in previous posts.
 
Sep 28, 2020
16
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A mysterious refund for one of the charges appeared on my credit card balance today. I don't know if it's because I told LATAM I would not accept a wire voucher in lieu of a credit card refund (they never responded), if the DoT email had an effect even though they had no jurisdiction, if the Expedia executives made something happen even though they ignored me, or my credit card reversed the provisional credits because they negotiated a refund but refuse to explain what's going on. So now just two more charges to go.
 
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Sep 28, 2020
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I’m willing to believe it was the DOT complaint.
The credit card refund says "LAN Airlines" (as did the original charge) but it also says "Seattle WA," which suggests that Expedia (based in Seattle) may have had to pull a lever at some point in the process.