Expedia Freezes $964, Says "Don't Worry, It Will Be Released Within 72 Hours"

Expedia thinks it’s okay to place a total of $964 on hold on Nicholas’ and his girlfriend’s credit cards, even though they’ve already paid for their $3,000 trip in full. When he contacted Expedia to ask them what gives, they told him it would be released within 72 hours. Maybe this is Expedia’s way of combatting travel inflation by creating a make-believe rebate-y feeling when you buy an expensive vacation package.

My name is Nicholas. Two days ago my girlfriend and I tried booking a vacation package to Paris through expedia.com.
 
The total cost of the package was approximately $3,000.
 
Expedia gives you the option to split the payment between two cards, so we decided to do that. I entered the card information for my Debit card, she entered the information for her credit card. Both Visa.
 
I wanted to put 80% of the cost on my debit card, the remaining 20% was to be charged to my girlfriends credit card.
 
After we entered all of our payment information, we clicked on the checkout/payment button. The website loaded for a little bit and threw us an error.
 
The error indicated that the payment could not be processed at this time and that we should try again later. 
 
We tried entering our information again, we got the same error.
 
(The error most likely occurred because since I was charging over $2,000 on my debit card, my bank declined the payment since the limit for an online purchase is usually $1,500. You need to call the bank prior to the purchase in order to buy something over $1,500.)
 
Anyways, the next day I check my bank statement online and see that Expedia.com put $464 of my money on hold. My Girlfriend checks her online credit car statement and $500 of her money was put on hold as well.
 
I thought this to be absolutely ridiculous.
 
1. Expedia.com told us that the payment was not processed and to try again later.
2. Neither my girlfriend nor I received emails informing us of these transactions or any other sort of confirmation.
3. When we checked our itinerary on expedia.com, no where did it say that our money was being put on hold.
 
I called expedia costumer service to see what the hell was going on.
 
I was told by a customer service representative that the money was being put on hold and would return to our accounts within 72 hours.
 
I have absolutely no idea what the point of holding about $1000 of our money is since the package itself cost almost $3000.
 
The customer service rep didn’t really have a clear explanation as to why our money was on hold, but she did assure us that within 72 hours the money would be back in our accounts.
 
We really wanted to book the trip so we decided to simply charge the entire thing on her credit card.
 
Our trip is now booked, but the $1000 is still on hold.
 
Anyone else have a similar experience?

(Photo: Getty Images)

Comments

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  1. Landru says:

    I had a very similar experience on my debit card, when booking a Hawaii air/hotel package online with an agency. My problem was exacerbated by the fact that the hotel part went through, but the airline part didn’t; I was worried our seats would get booked by someone else while straightening it out. However, I was able get the agency people to talk to my bank and it was cleared up in a couple of hours.
    Good luck with Expedia, though.

  2. Geekybiker says:

    Yah, last time I booked through expedia, I got to the hotel and they had no record of my paid in full reservation. During Christmas. Luckily we were able to get a room, but no thanks to them.

  3. akede2001 says:

    This is generally an authorization hold placed by your bank. In most cases you can get the merchant and your bank on the line, and have them remove the hold.

    Otherwise, you have to wait for your bank to expire the pending hold per their policy. Generally, this is 72 hours.

    This happens in every soft decline (address mismatch, card code mismatch, etc). Typically, for larger transactions a smaller transaction is usually issued first ($1) to check the address and such. If they will approve it, then they run it for the full amount. This is not required of any company, and they are not required to contact the bank to remove the authorization hold.

    (Worked at both a bank, and a credit card gateway where merchants run their transactions through).

  4. BigBoat says:

    Interesting take on conversion.
    [en.wikipedia.org]

  5. akede2001 says:

    @BigBoat: The problem is that the bank has placed the hold reducing the available balance. They also remove the hold. Each bank has different policies regarding the outstanding authorizations, and the merchant is in no way obligated to collect on it. Since it was placed in the normal course of business, without deceit, the OP has no recourse. They can contact their bank to request the authorization be removed, or just wait it out. Not much else they can do. They wouldn’t get anywhere filing a BBB complaint. No laws have been broken.

  6. FLConsumer says:

    I don’t want to “blame the original poster” as happens far too often on this blog, but who the hell uses a bank which limits online transactions to $1500?!?!!? For crying out loud, many of the individual items I order online are well over that.

    Reason #5,034,109 not to use a debit card.

  7. BigElectricCat says:

    Whenever you try to do a multiple FOP (Form Of Payment) transaction, it is always best to deal with an actual human being, even over the phone. Some systems have tremendous difficulty processing multiple FOPs, even for simple txns.

  8. lesspopmorefizz says:

    @Geekybiker: Same thing happened to me, once: It was 1 AM and I needed a place to sleep before getting on an international flight early the next (that?) morning. And I was just one person in a huge line of people that had made reservations on Expedia, only to arrive late at night to discover that the hotel was full. Expedia handled it all right, but wow, I was SO pissed.

  9. akede2001 says:

    @lesspopmorefizz: Yeah, most places over-book.. flights and hotels. They expect a certain percentage to cancel, and that screws a lot of people over when it doesn’t happen.

  10. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Normally, I’m a pretty laid back person, but if I read one more story about how someone gets shit on by a company and then GIVES THEM THEIR MONEY ANYWAY, I’m gonna start busting heads. WTF is wrong with you people? Are we, as a nation, that fucking lame that we’ll just close our eyes and take it? Dayum!

  11. @Imaginary_Friend: Must have been a good price. The devil always offers great deals.

  12. trujunglist says:

    @FLConsumer:

    .. because everyone magically has a credit limit of +$3k!

  13. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Why would you be using a debit card online? That’s mistake one. Mistake two is that you think charging 3 grand to your girlfriends card somehow is a bad thing. Considering you are using 2 grand in cash, you can just give her the cash to pay off 2,000 of her credit card. Plus in using credit, you gain protection against them holding or incorrectly debiting money directly from your account, as well as the ability to do a charge back if they screw up something really bad, and points that could end up giving you some bonus item from the credit cards catalog. Yes, it sucks they froze money on your debit card, but that is your fault for giving it to them.

  14. Kajj says:

    @trujunglist: Seriously. So many of these smug “I can’t believe everyone doesn’t do what I do!” posts presume a much higher income and credit rating than many people have, even if they’re financially responsible.

  15. lastfm says:

    I know what Expedia does with your money. Expedia is just a front for when it lends your money out with its own payday lending company.

    No, just kidding.

  16. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @trujunglist:

    FL Consumer, the reason they have that limit is to protect you if the thing gets stolen. While I agree that it’s best to use a CC (especially for the travel protection/airline goes tits up protection, etc), I can’t fault the OP for wanting to use his debit card. Usually banks will wave their magic wand and get rid of that limit if you call them ahead and tell them what period of time you want that limit lifted for. The flip side is that you usually waive your right to fraud protection over $x amount while the limit is lifted.

    This has a lot to do with how merchants are paid near-instantly for debit transactions, but at the end of the cycle for CC transactions.

  17. Nicholas_schaulsohn says:

    My income is low as I am still in college. In my 5th year, but still in school.

    We decided it would be easier to just charge the whole thing on her card and I would just transfer or write her a check for the 2gs.

    The main problem here was that nether of us received any sort of warning or confirmation for these holds. We just assumed that the transaction was declined and that we had to try again later.

  18. FLConsumer says:

    @trujunglist & @Kajj: It has nothing to do with being smug or having any particular credit limit. I read the post and it clearly indicated that there’s an ONLINE PURCHASE limit, not that the person’s credit limit/account balance was $1,500.

    @LUV2CattleCall: WAIVING fraud protection? and it’d be coming straight out of one of my checking accounts? I don’t think so. I’m not sure anyone in any financial situation should be using such a risky card or financial institution.

  19. ChrisNF says:

    @FLConsumer: I routinely buy pieces of individual items worth over $100,000 online, so who’s Richie Rich now, big spender?

  20. FLConsumer says:

    @ChrisNF: and I bet you don’t use your debit card to do it.

  21. Wormfather says:

    This is complete BS, I work in retail and in a situation like this someone from the audit department can go ahead and call the merchants aquirer and have the transaction cancled and hold request released, we’ve had to do it a few times. For $50, I’m probably not going to make my people do it because it takes a bit of time. For $1K, yeah, they’re going to have to make that phone call.

  22. BigElectricCat says:

    @Nicholas_schaulsohn: Nicholas — please see my comment re multiple Forms of Payment.

  23. blackmage439 says:

    These 3rd party travel sites are all a joke. In my experience, you can get the cheapest rates by dealing directly with the airline/hotel/rental company[ies].

  24. doe3001 says:

    Freezing money is the the first step to steal your money. Read the dirty tricks EXPEDIA may be use to try to scam you: [www.victimsofexpedia.com]

    They tried to scam me once 1254.95 U$D. Contact your credit card company and dispute the charges with them. It was the only way I could recover 1254.95 Bucks when EXPEDIA tried to scam me in 2005.

  25. Orv says:

    These kinds of credit holds are why I think debit cards are a bad idea for travel. You end up not being able to access your own funds. I’m not blaming the victim here; I probably would have learned about it the hard way too if I hadn’t seen it happen to someone else.

  26. Mr. Gunn says:

    I feel really bad for the many people who don’t have or want credit cards, because you totally get screwed using a debit card on car rentals, tickets, and anything booked online.

    I really does suck to travel without a credit card, and neither the companies or banks plan on fixing things anytime soon.

    Gas stations have this stuff pretty well figured out, so there’s no reason the companies can’t get their act together; they just don’t care.