What Do You Do When A Site Fails To Charge Your Credit Card?

Sarah seems partly jubilant and partly terrified that a travel website failed to make her pay for a round trip flight to Alaska. She wants to protect herself and know whether or not she has to do anything more.

She writes:

Back in March, I used an online travel site to purchase two round-trip tickets from Boston to Anchorage. About a month before our July flights (three months after my purchase), I realized that my credit card was never actually charged for the tickets, despite what the online itinerary/bill showed.

I called my bank to see if anyone might know about this delay in billing. The CSR from my bank stated that sometimes online travel sites wait and complete charges closer to the actual travel date. I’ve never seen this happen before, but if the CSR felt that was a reasonable explanation, I was willing to take it at face value. I did not call the Web site (not a conscious decision at the time, but now very much so).

We have now returned from our trip and have been home for a few weeks. Regular checks of the account show that I have still not been charged for the tickets.

Questions:

How long before I can consider that money mine and there for saving/spending? My BF and friends suggest six months from the date of the original online transaction.

Alternatively, is it incumbent on me to contact the company and let them know that, despite what their receipt says, I have not actually paid for those tickets?

Does anyone know what the rules are in this situation? What have you done if a company has let you off the hook for a credit card charge?

UPDATE: It turns out Sarah did pay for the tickets after all. She sends this follow-up:

So, I am an idiot. I called today and while talking to a CSR at the travel site, discovered that my card had been charged twice (once for each ticket), not once for the lump sum. The receipt I had only reported the lump sum, and when I failed to see that amount on my credit card transaction list, I assumed I had not been charged. This is why I am an idiot.

No harm, no foul, but am glad that so many people called me out on my potentially unethical behavior. The comments were right. I should have called the travel company as soon as I thought I hadn’t been charged for the tickets. Public shaming works!

In the end, they have their money (as they should), and I have more money than I thought! It’s a double bonus.

Thank you for posting my message on Consumerist. I got a good drag through the mud and I loved every minute of it. (Although I have to admit I got a good laugh from the Dutch poster who sad, “Too bad for the gnomes.”)

Comments

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  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    See, this is why we need to check receipts! So Sarah doesn’t have to sit there and worry like she is doing.

    • gparlett says:

      This is so incredibly full of win.

    • pitawg says:

      Never show a receipt to a company trying to shift the cost of proper store layout or proper number of employees to their own customers, by search and seizure and even time. (one greeter to treat customers as thieves instead of double staff cashiers so you can be walked out like a grocery bagger does? please.)

      I did however call the chinese food place to report the $20 spotted in the parking lot an hour after delivery. That is what this case is about. He had to verify the amount missing. (espescially since this is an apartment with many other possible sources for the dropped money.)

  2. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

    She could alleviate that worry easily by doing the right things and calling the travel company.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Right thing, I mean.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        Agreed. Pay the bill. You took the trip on agency’s dime because they had to pay the funds for the ticket to the airline, so in turn, the OP should reimburse the travel agency just the same. Nothing is free in life.

        Besides, the OP will sleep better at night knowing she did what was right.

        • Link_Shinigami says:

          Pssst, she doesn’t want to call them because then they’ll figure it out and take the money. I think she’s just trying to find out how long she can wait before she feels justified in the fact she took the tickets and didn’t tell them.

          If she doesn’t call them, she’s being insanely immoral. It’s the whole “I found your wallet, but there wasn’t any money left in it” thing, but in fact, there isn’t money left because she took it. Just my view

          • godlyfrog says:

            Exactly. She knows she hasn’t paid for those tickets, the only moral thing to do is contact the company and get them to take her money as agreed.

            • FredKlein says:

              She DID contact them- when she made the original contract. She gave them all the info they needed to take her money.

              The didn’t take her money.

              That’s their problem, not hers.

              • Brink006 says:

                EVIL CORPORATION deserves the loss! I am absolved of any decent behavior because I’m a selfish, terrible consumer!

                • FredKlein says:

                  More like ‘You snooze, you loose’.

                  If I offer to pay for something, and hold the money out, how long should I wait for the cashier to take it? I’m standing there, holding out the cash… standing there.. standing…. Screw it.

                  By refusing to take the money, they’ve made it clear that I don’t owe them anything. It’s like the whole ‘This bill is legal tender for all debts, public and private’ thing; if you offer someone cash for a debt, and they refuse it, you no longer owe the debt. You tried to pay it, they refused to accept payment, therefore you no longer owe it.

          • FredKlein says:

            Not at all. She gave them all the info they needed to charge her. They didn’t charge her. That was their choice. Their decision.

            If I pull up to a gas station and the pump is set for $3.50/gal, that’s what I pay. If it’s set for $2.50/gal, that what I pay. If it’s set for $0.250/gal, then that’s what I pay. It’s not up to me to second-guess the company. A low price could mean they’re having a sale. Or maybe it’s a publicity stunt. Or maybe it’s just a really good deal. In any case,that’s the price they have set, and that’s what I’ll pay.

            • SunnyLea says:

              “If it’s set for $0.250/gal, then that’s what I pay.”

              Really? ‘Cuz I believe I’d go tell the clerk their pump is malfunctioning. Then again, I’m not stupid enough to think they are having a 1000% off sale, either.

              • FredKlein says:

                1) There is no such thing as a “1000% off sale”. The store would have to pay you 9 times the price of the item to take it for that kind of sale to exist.

                2) Where do you draw the line? What percentage/dollar off amount triggers your ‘too good to be true’ alarm? And WHY?

            • SBR249 says:

              This isn’t a dispute on the price. According to your logic, the OP isn’t even justified in her question. Since she has given the travel agency her payment information and has agreed to the price specified, she has expressly given the other party permission to request payment for that amount and she should then expect the travel agency to be able to demand payment at any time from here on out until the day she discharges her debt in full. Just because they haven’t charged her yet does not mean they will never charge her. And since expiration dates aren’t generally included in agreements such as these, there should be no such thing as a “statute of limitations” 6 months or otherwise.

              In other words, you can’t arbitrarily say that if by the time you fill up and drive out of the gas station, the station hasn’t charged your card, then you don’t have to pay at all and the station has automatically relinquished its right to be paid for the goods and services rendered.

              • FredKlein says:

                But there is an upper limit on how long a company can wait to charge you. At the very least, they need to do it before the expiration date on the card. I think it’s also reasonable (if not actually written in the law) that they charge you within a few days of the sale. Otherwise, whats to stop them from coming back 20 years later and demanding the money (plus interest!)?

        • chimpski says:

          What if she pays, and then they end up finding something and charging her card? Double pay? If I had proof that the transaction happened, but something else got messed up, I would be out of mind waiting for that charge to go through.

    • Benny Gesserit says:

      Agreed. It’s the classy thing to do.

  3. ajlei says:

    I would be morally inclined to call, unless it was Best Buy. Thank god they’re not in the travel business.. yet.

    Seriously though, I’d get a little superstitious about not paying for a flight. Like, what do the gods have in store for me on my next flight?

    • dg says:

      I wouldn’t be morally inclined to do anything other than get on the flights. The company made an offer to her for travel at a specific price. She accepted it. She gave them the consideration (credit card). The company failed to process the credit card.

      Why is this her problem? She doesn’t work at the company. She doesn’t employ the people who are supposed to handle this. The company can charge her the correct or not – that’s entirely their business. But it’s not her responsibility to chase them down and say “hey bill me!”

      If they hadn’t done it by the next billing cycle, and then tried to do it at some point after that – I’d have called them up to complain about the delay. Merchant Agreements dictate when charges must be batched through, so if they didn’t comply with that or their own policies – screw it, get a refund – you snooze, you lose.

  4. Elcheecho says:

    uhh. why not call to make sure? is she trying to get free tickets?

  5. rookie says:

    It’s time for an ethics wake up. She agreed to the price of the tickets. She used unpaid for tickets. She needs to pay for the tickets she used.

    I am now ready for the ensuing flameage…

  6. mbemom says:

    um…stealing is still stealing. She should contact the party she got the tickets from. If they sat she is clear, then she can consider the money hers. If not, she should pay for her flights. Period

  7. dragonfire81 says:

    Don’t chance spending the money until you talk with someone, you never know when the charges might come through and I doubt you’d want to get sacked with overlimit fees.

  8. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Years ago I saw this a couple of times a year with my credit cards. It was never as large as two return flights across the continent though. It was interesting to see which stores lost the paper.

    I would suggest you mentally reset the zero balance on your account to not include these funds. Keep them in your account assuming that the minute you take part of it out they will process your payment and trigger overdraft charges. This puts you in the enviable position of having a substantial buffer in your account that may eliminate bank charges for you.

    Keeping it there would also help you explain that you intended and had the means to pay should the travel website decide to cause you grief.

    After a year I would be inclined to think the agency is out of luck.

    • will_butler says:

      I like this solution. I don’t personally believe that we owe companies much of anything. If a business is incapable of processing a payment, it’s not the customer’s job to call the business up and make sure they take the money you’ve authorized them to take. I believe in treating my fellow human beings with dignity and courtesy and respect, but companies? Not so much.

      I once used my debit card to get $20 cash back with a purchase at a convenience store. When I looked at my receipt later, I found that they had given me a twenty dollar bill, but had only debited twenty cents from my account. I called the store up and told them what happened, letting them know that I didn’t want the cashier to get in trouble over the mistake. The next day, I brought them back their twenty dollars. The only thing the manager said to me when I came in was, “It didn’t matter.” I didn’t even get a thank you. That was the last time I ever did a business a favor.

  9. dolemite says:

    This happened to me with Tiger Direct. Ordered a monitor last December with Xmas money. Used Google Checkout. The monitor arrived a week later. No charge yet. After a month, still no charge. Called Tiger, and they said they have their money from Google Checkout, so it’s up to Google Checkout to bill my CC. I attempted to contact Google Checkout, but there is literally NO way to do this outside of a problem form with drop down boxes. No phone number, no email, nothing. If you use the form, you are given only a few options like “I didn’t receive my item” “My item arrived damage”, etc. Nothing about “I have my item, and it is fine, but you never billed me”. I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out a way to contact them, but gave up. I didn’t want to put in something that didn’t pertain to my situation, for fear I might be double billed or end up with 2 monitors or something.

    After months went by, I finally consigned that I got a free monitor. However, after 6 months, I got an email from Tiger Direct that my order was about to ship. I called, and they said nope, nothing shipping, you are settled up. Well, the following week, my credit card was finally charged.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      But you tried to pay for the item. That’s different and I agree that from your perspective, what else can you do. You made an honest effort to pay from something and could not. Oh well.

    • Enduro says:

      Tiger Direct’s wonky hit and miss rebate scams are so shady that I think they deserve it.

  10. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Call the company. There’s no “gray area” here.

  11. Xay says:

    Suck it up and call the company because the day you decide to spend that money will be the day they get around to charging the card.

  12. dannod says:

    There’s a point when unintentional and intentional shoplifting become the same thing — it’s that moment you become aware that you unintentionally got something for free. If you’re not trying to get the trip for free you should be on the phone with the company that didn’t bill you, not your bank.

  13. Beeker26 says:

    “How long before I can consider that money mine and there for saving/spending?”

    Never. It’s not your money. You call the company to find out why they haven’t charged you for tickets you received and used. Doing anything else is theft, pure and simple. But hey, if you’re ok with that you really don’t need our approval, right?

  14. RandomHookup says:

    Go ahead and call. Somewhere out there is a couple wondering who the hell charged tickets to Alaska on their credit card.

    If they can’t straighten it out after that, tough for them.

  15. xspook says:

    I charged an $8,000 car on a credit card a few years back (for the points) and was going to pay in full once the charge showed on the bill. It took over 3 months.

  16. Bob Lu says:

    Call the company and let them know there may be some mistake regarding your bill. Let them know you are taping the call. You don’t have to tell them the details of the problem. Let them find it out themselves. Inform them that if they don’t take action within a certain amount of time, you consider everything is fine and won’t take any further responsibility. If they fix it, good. If they don’t, better.

    You can also send certified mail instead of call them.

    • RandomMutterings says:

      So let me understand your point — if after a certain amount of time passes she can keep the money? What’s wrong with this approach?:

      You agreed to pay in exchange for the service.
      You received the service.
      You pay — when invoiced/charged.

      • 5seconds says:

        Certain countries have different laws regarding stale debt. In the UK for instance, the government cannot recover under paied taxes after 6 years. Most countries do have laws like that so that mistakes cannot be held over people for decades. Even crimes have statue of limitations.

      • Bob Lu says:

        It is how business works nowadays.

        If a company, including a bank, made a mistake in your disadvantage, YOU have to find the mistake and report it in a timely manner, or after certain amount of time the company is off hook. I don’t see how the same rule should not work when the situation is reversed.

  17. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    What Do You Do When A Site Fails To Charge Your Credit Card?

    Call them and figure out what’s going on.

  18. Bativac says:

    Call them. I flew my family to Italy last year on Swiss Air (best flight of my life). The total cost was $2,500 (not bad for 5 people!). However, the money was still in my bank account for months afterwards.

    I called the bank after 2 or 3 weeks and they saw no pending transaction but cautioned me that it would show up eventually. Six months later, the trip rolls around and the money is still there. But the day after we got home… the money was gone!

    You agreed to pay for the trip. The money just hasn’t been collected yet. Call the travel site. You might luck out and they tell you “we see no such error” in which case either it’s a glitch in their system or somebody else is being charged for your trip.

  19. JMILLER says:

    This case is clear to me. Let’s put it another way. You are walking through the mall, and you see a diamond ring with a receipt next to it and nobody around. If you take that ring, you are stealing. The honest person would take it to the store where it was purchased, or to the police and say, “I found this ring, and somebody is probably going crazy trying to figure out what happened. I would bet there is a person at the travel site who has a) lost a job, b) can not balance their ticket sales versus their expenses or c) an owner has written it off and now has to work extra time to make up for an employee error.
    I think the OP was looking for somebody to say it’s ok to spend the money. I wonder how she would feel if her paycheck had an error on it, and she suddenly found out a month, a year or even 2 years later. I would bet she would want to get paid for it.

    • FredKlein says:

      This case is clear to me. Let’s put it another way. You are walking through the mall, and you see a diamond ring with a receipt next to it and nobody around. If you take that ring, you are stealing. The honest person would take it to the store where it was purchased, or to the police ….

      So, if you find a penny on the sidewalk, do you bring it to the police?
      If you say ‘Yes’, you’re an idiot.
      if you say ‘No’, then you’re a thief.

      • JMILLER says:

        I guess you can not see the difference between a penny and diamond ring. There is a level of reasonableness on anything. Based on your logic a person who goes 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone is as much a criminal as one who goes 110 MPH. A reasonable ability to find the rightful owner is what matters. Intelligent people can differentiate. Apparently you can not.

        • FredKlein says:

          I guess you can not see the difference between a penny and diamond ring.

          There are many differences. However, if you take either one without permission, you are still a thief.

          Based on your logic a person who goes 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone is as much a criminal as one who goes 110 MPH.

          They are both guilty of speeding, yes. They have both broken the law. Do you deny this?

          A reasonable ability to find the rightful owner is what matters.

          Ah, “reasonable”. Which raises the question ‘by whose standards?’.

          So, what in this case, would you consider ‘reasonable’?? She gave them her credit card number and all the other info they needed to charge her. I think that’s ‘reasonable’. They then… didn’t charge her. Is she their accountant? Then why is it ‘reasonable’ for her to correct their accounting mistakes??

      • yusefyk says:

        I noticed you advocated stealing the tickets in a thread above this one, so I’m not surprised you make a claim now that a penny is the same as a diamond ring.

        Because the only way to justify your ridiculous position is using such a disingenuous tactic.

        • FredKlein says:

          I’m not surprised you make a claim now that a penny is the same as a diamond ring.

          A man goes up to a women and says “Will you have sex with me for a million dollars?” The woman says ‘Yes’. The man asks “Will you have sex with me for ten dollars?” The woman says, “What do you think I am?!”. The man replies: “We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling over price”

          A person who steals a penny is a thief just as is a person who steals a diamond ring is a thief. Unless you wanna haggle…. Exactly how many carets does the diamond have to be before it’s stealing? How much money can it be while remaining ‘not stealing’?

        • FredKlein says:

          I noticed you advocated stealing the tickets in a thread above this one

          I’ll type it again, slowly:

          She gave them the info needed to charge her for the tickets.

          They did not charge her, yet they gave her the tickets.

          Them not charging her is their problem, not her problem.

  20. dbeahn says:

    “How long before I can consider that money mine and there for saving/spending?”

    So the question is “how long do I have to wait before it’s OK to steal this money?”

    • Michael says:

      I wouldn’t call this stealing. They merely didn’t take the money like they agreed upon, Sarah didn’t somehow maliciously take that money back or refuse to pay. There could be a number of possible reasons for this, most likely either something happened with their payment system or some employee did something wrong. In either case I personally would feel like it’s the companies responsibility to complete the transaction as I can’t give them the money, they must take it. If their employees are too incompetent to properly reconcile these types of issues than it’s the companies fault, not Sarahs. If she wants to maintain a working relationship with this particular vendor I would definitely call them and point out their mistake, otherwise I’d just let it go.. stuff happens.

      If I overpay I don’t expect any company to go to any lengths to call me and insist on giving me a refund.

  21. winnabago says:

    Flights are often charged to my card close to the date of travel, especially if I am buying from the airline directly.

  22. pax says:

    Sarah will feel a lot better once she makes that phone call to the airline/travel agency. She’ll know that she did 100% of her due diligence in trying to rectify what is obviously an error. No one is giving away airplane fare.

    If she calls and they’re like, Wow, we screwed up, enjoy your free flight!…well, color me shocked and good for her, but probably not.

  23. quads says:

    I think its an obvious human error, probably on one of the processors at the travel site, you should just call and pay, what if that person made a mistake, gets fired, and now can’t support his / her family. You took the trip, probably had a great time. Do what’s right in my opinion.

  24. RandomMutterings says:

    “Does anyone know what the rules are in this situation? What have you done if a company has let you off the hook for a credit card charge?”

    Umm, the ‘rules’ (let’s call them “the law”) are that you agreed to pay for the service, the service was rendered, and payment is owed. An administrative error (failure to bill) does not excuse the debt. It’s called black letter law. Now, they may take a while to collect . . . . in which case, enjoy the interest on the money (unless you agreed to pay interest on the outstanding amount) . . . until they collect.

    Oh, yeah IAAL.

    • dragonvpm says:

      YANAVGL

      She is in breech of contract with with the travel site and as such the statute of limitations varies by state but it’s likely to be years depending on what state the contract uses for jurisdiction. In MA that looks to be 6 years for written or oral contracts.

      She gave them the information needed to pay for the tickets and if they don’t collect the money in the next 6 years or so then that’s their problem. If she wanted to sit on the money for 6 or so years it would be up to the travel site to demand payment (say after the credit card expires or if it’s canceled etc…) sometime before the statute of limitations expires.

      I’m not saying that this is the “right” thing to do (and I certainly wouldn’t want to worry about it being an issue for years) but if you’re going to wave your law degree around at least try to answer the question asked.

      You may now return to your regularly scheduled condescension

      • coren says:

        Um. How is she in breach of contract if she made a good faith effort to pay and the company has made an error in collecting that payment?

        • Johann says:

          She thinks there’s been some sort of error and she hasn’t contacted the company to sort it out. This is not a good faith effort to pay.

          • Bob Lu says:

            Just wondering, if she contact the company, let them know there is some kind of error, but the company doesn’t fix it in a timely manner, is she going to be responsible for the charge like,,, forever? What if she want to cancel the card twenty year later?

        • dragonvpm says:

          She agreed to pay the travel site $X in exchange for a trip to destination Y. She did not pay them the agreed upon amount so she is in breach of contract. It’s really not that complicated.

    • fs210 says:

      “IAAL”? Doubtful.

      First, your grammar and punctuation are terrible.

      Second, you refer to “black letter law” but then proceed to gloss over the “law” and further imply that she has some obligation, again ignoring several facts. And you completely failed to reach any sort of legal or factual conclusion other than they will collect.

      Bravo.

      If you’re a lawyer, God help your clients.

  25. Harmodios says:

    As we would say in Holland:

    “vette pech, voor de kabouters”

    Too bad for the gnomes

  26. Skellbasher says:

    At no point does the money ‘become yours’. There’s no statue that says a company must bill timely.

    Just call the travel agency and tell them what happened. They’ll probably give you a kickback for being honest with them about it.

    • Dutchess says:

      actually I believe there are CC company rules that dictate how long they can hold onto a transaction before processing it.

  27. Pax says:

    “How long before I can consider that money mine and there for saving/spending?”

    Never.

    Don’t be a thief. Call them, get them to charge your card properly.

  28. sprocket79 says:

    Something similar happened with me last month. I have a recurring charge for the YMCA on a Visa that I rarely use for anything else. I always pay it off every month in full because it’s usually just the gym charge. For July, my Visa bill only had one charge and it was for a cab ride from the airport. Nothing else. So I called up the Y and asked them if there was something wrong with my card because I hadn’t been charged. They tell me I was charged and they have the money and a transaction number to prove it. I asked if they were sure 3 times and finally hung up. I didn’t bother calling Visa because I figured it would probably show up on my next bill, and if it didn’t I would call then. A week later I get an email from the Y. They had credit card issues that month and no cards were actually charged, so they charged me that day. Ah well. So much for thinking Visa wanted to give me a gift!

  29. Jfielder says:

    A big +1 to what pretty much everyone has already said. Call the company and tell them what happened. Be a good consumer. Personally I would call and tell them ONCE and make it very clear what had happened… After that, if they choose to not bill me then I’d consider it a win.

  30. Sparty999 says:

    they will figure it out, and charge your card at the worst possible time… better to call them now, and see what they issue was.

  31. DanRydell says:

    Thanks for proving yet again that many of the people who read this blog are no better than the companies that this blog criticizes.

    I think there should be a Worst Consumer in America award.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      “Thanks for proving yet again that SOME of the people who read this blog are no better than the companies that this blog criticizes.”

      There, fixed it for ya. I think it’s clear from the comments that the OP is in the minority here. It’s pretty safe to say that most Consumerist readers don’t tolerate bad behavior from either the company or the customer.

  32. shufflemoomin says:

    How is this even an issue? It’s theft if she is knowingly taking something without paying. Call the travel company and alert them to the mistake. Simple. Doing anything otherwise makes you a douche.

  33. ginnel says:

    How long before you can consider the money yours? It will never be yours. Unbelievable.

  34. Stickdude says:

    What do you do? You do the same thing I did when I discovered that both the cashier and receipt-checker at Costco had missed the $400 LCD monitor in the bottom my cart (I was Christmas shopping and the grand total was much higher, which is why it took me until I reached the car to realize the amount I was charged wasn’t right).

    You find a way to pay for it. Plain and simple.

    • LaziestManOnMars says:

      Costco is so awesome, they might throw you a free monitor, or tv now and then…

      Kinda like a buy-back at the cool bar.

  35. Big Mama Pain says:

    What if someone else was accidentally charged for her trip on their c.c.? They’d be desperately trying to prove that they did not go on some trip to Alaska, all of which might have been sorted out by the OP coming clean. I bet if she cops to their mistake, they will hook her up with a small reward for her honesty.

  36. annabelle327 says:

    IAs a former employee of an online travel retailer recommend her writing a letter to the corporate office. Give them 30 days to respond, they will look at it and in 99% likely hood write it off. Usual process is that the flights are supposed to be charged by the actual carrier and not the OTA and if they didn’t charge the customer, there is nothing the OTA can or will do about it. But to cover her assets she wants a letter back from the company saying they will not be charging her (because they don’t have anyway to do that and be in SOX compliance after the trip).

  37. Ilovegnomes says:

    Please call!!!! I’ve had a travel agent fat finger my credit card into someone else’s travel itinerary and have been charged with someone else’s flight. Yes, I disputed it but you know what a pain in the rear end that is? Please be honest about it because chances are the gain that you had was at someone else’s expense. Please save someone the hassle!

  38. Schlake says:

    A book company once forgot to bill me. I didn’t notice until nearly a year later when the charge suddenly came through. My hospital, on the other hand, took my payment then about three months later they returned it to the credit card company and sent me to collections because it was overdue.

  39. katia802 says:

    I would put the money in savings and forget it’s there till they come after you for it. Eventually they’re going to figgure out they goofed

  40. tricky1 says:

    This just sorta happened to me today with thinkgeek.com I got some of the “Giant” microbes for gift for a few people in my Wedding Party(2 more days of freedom). The hold went onto my debit card. Got a shipping notification 20 minutes after the package was delivered(Ordered Friday evening arrived Tuesday morning). This morning my available balance was higher than it should be and the pending charge from thinkgeek had disappeared without going into the cleared transactions. I’m going to wait, because this has happened once before and after about a week the company caught it and charged it.

  41. Craig B says:

    This happened once to me after eating at a restaurant and using my debit card to pay for the meal. I never realized I wasn’t charged for it, but many months later (7 or 8, as I recall) I was charged for it. The date listed for the charge was within the month. I called the bank and explained that I hadn’t eaten at the restaurant on that date and the charge was reversed. Only later did I realize what had happened. No, I didn’t call the bank again; clearly the restaurant messed up somehow (I thought the charge should have gone through immediately). I don’t want to get into whether or not I should have called the bank back, but the restaurant did go under a few months later, so…

  42. LaziestManOnMars says:

    Y cld p th ppl thr mn, y dshnst c***. Tht’s nt yr mn, thf. Tht cmpn’s mn s n yr bnk ccnt. Thf.

  43. halfcuban says:

    Honestly I have conducted some travel, especially in Asian countries, where they literally took MONTHS to clear out credit card charges. I never worried about calling after the first time because I found this is how many of those places operated; they literally bundled them up at the end of the quarter and ran them in chunks. As it ended up many of them didn’t pay THEIR travel suppliers (the airlines and hotels) until then either. So essentially everyone was running off money from a quarter or so ago. Its an odd way to run a business thats sure.

  44. brinks says:

    Someone somewhere is going to do some accounting and realize they are missing a large sum of money. They’re going to want it, and who knows when the charge will show up? A year later when the OP has completely forgotten about it?

  45. EmDee says:

    I love that the overwhelming majority say pay, and normally would agree, as it’s up to us to make the world a better place, but not in this case – unless the situation bothers her so much that she contacts them for her own of peace of mind. (In which case she should indeed write in a documentable way rather than call.)

    Reasons I disagree:

    (1) Plenty of people (a majority for all I know) don’t even check their charges to verify accuracy or anything else. There’s no reason for her to be penalized (by missing out on rare good luck) for checking her bills when she still wouldn’t have been charged (yet) if she hadn’t checked them, and wouldn’t be at fault for that.

    (2) The flip side of its being a buyer-beware world of commerce is that it also can be at times a seller-beware place. She did someone the favor of giving them her business. It’s not her obligation now to spend her valuable time (potentially lots of it, the way so many big companies operate) doing what the seller should be doing for itself.

    (3) She’s not stealing, as so many here say, because she didn’t DO anything…..

    However, I agree she should put that money in savings, or leave it in checking, and leave it untouched for a long, long time, just in case. (Compromise solution: she calls or writes but strictly limits how much time she’ll spend on it.)

  46. JonStewartMill says:

    Which travel site is that? I ask merely out of idle curiosity.

  47. Optimistic Prime says:

    I’d agree with the bulk of commentors that you should call, but usually pointing out a mistake like this makes things worse. They very likely would double bill and then the OP is set up with the headache of trying to remove one of the charges.

    Wait a while and don’t spend the money on anything else. If nothing comes of it in a year or so, donate it anonymously to a charity.

    • eccsame says:

      That’s still stealing. It isn’t her money to donate. How about – wait a year and then contact the company to let them know about the error.

  48. SBR249 says:

    This is only marginally a moral question given the limited information. Sure, it involves ethical considerations such as whether or not you should inform the company as a courtesy. But in the end, there are only two choices at the present time and they both (conceivably) lead to the same conclusion:

    1) Don’t call the company, sit tight, and don’t be surprised when the charge pops up down the road

    2) Call the company, pay up

    Both route lead to parting with the money that isn’t even the OP’s at this point. There’s also the remote possibility that the company made a mistake. In that case, then it becomes a moral questions of whether you should own up to your debt.

  49. HighontheHill says:

    We rented a 250 acre facility for our wedding, paid with a check, had a great time there and all was well. Three months later the check was still out, I called the person was rude. Waited another couple of months called again and again the person was rude.

    It has been 11 years now and the check has never cleared.

    Guess I’m a thief.

    Oh well… :)

  50. scoutiebear says:

    Usually this site is devoted to stories where some company has ripped off consumers-and a ton of outraged replies follow. Here a consumer is inadvertently ripping off some company and wondering if “six months” is okay before the money is “yours to spend?” You SPENT IT when you took the trip!! I’d call the company, and if that fails-send a cashiers check to the company and write your info on it. Save the receipt.
    Stealing is stealing, whether anyone sees you do it.

  51. MrsLopsided says:

    Interesting. Just for investigative purposes….what is the name of the website?

  52. FrankReality says:

    Not sure why there is a conundrum here.

    Q1 – How long before I can consider that money mine and there for saving/spending?

    A1 – Never.

    Q2 – is it incumbent on me to contact the company and let them know that, despite what their receipt says, I have not actually paid for those tickets?

    A2 – Absolutely.

    The honest thing to do is the call the company, tell them about their error and when they bill you properly, pay it.

  53. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    its there money. they have 10 years to get it.

    • Mr. Pottersquash says:

      for the record, i disagree that the onus is on her to call. would be nice, but its not required, but that is not her money.

  54. The Marionette says:

    As far as being hesitant because of worry that she may be charged later is understandable. But if it’s simply because the company forgot to charge her and she will no longer have to worry about it, I say she just drops it. Like a customer is responsible to pay a bill at a restaurant or for utilities, the companies need to be responsible for charging them and keeping track. you walk out on a bill and you may see cops, they should just bite the bullet on their mistakes.

  55. JANSCHOLL says:

    I am a rubber stamper/paper artist and I often go to conventions where there can be up to 300 vendors. In the last 5 years at least three vendors never charged me. The problems are-the vendors credit card machine did not list their names on the swipe thru, they had me sign the receipts and said they would enter the info by hand later via phone (wifi access is awful in these conventions) . I have held onto these receipts but nary a try from them to collect. It bothers me because I have no way to trace them either. When I make a purchase at the conventions (think Comic Con but way less geeky), I put my purchase in a back pack but the receipts in my wallet with my cards. So they were separated long before I knew something was amiss. Some of these vendors barely break even at the shows after all the travel expenses and sign up fees to sell. I would gladly hand over the several hundred dollars I spent if there was a way to find the people I owe. They at least have my credit card number and could pass that to Visa. But I dont even have a vendor name on the receipts. So it bothers me…. a lot.

  56. parv says:

    “In the end, they have their money (as they should), and I have more money than I thought! It’s a double bonus.” — OP

    That is as much of “double bonus” as refund of the overpaid tax is extra money.

  57. COBBCITY says:

    OK, I am taken back by the original post AND the update.

    1. “About a month before our July flights (three months after my purchase), I realized that my credit card was never actually charged for the tickets.” REALLY? You did not happen to look at your statements for months and notice you didn’t see a charge for airline tickets??

    2. Then the OP discovers they were charged, but for each ticket seperately. UM, not any better. Again, you looked over your statements, didn’t spot any charge from the travel company, called customer service, wrote the Consumerist and then realized you were charged… way back when.

    Sounds like the OP does not have a very firm grasp of their finances AND had a credit card statement of charges so long each month that it is too exhausting to find two airlines charges on the bill.

    There is SO much said by what is not said here.

  58. scoutiebear says:

    Wow. After reading the update, I gotta say, Sarah, you’re a classy broad. Takes a real measure of courage to stand up and take your licks so gracefully on a public forum. May you have many happy vacations in the future!

  59. atomoverride says:

    I would have cancled the card when I got back from my trip.