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.


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.”)