Last October, I paid a holiday deposit on my credit card. Then in June, I paid the balance.
"We're looking forward to your arrival tomorrow," came an email in early July. Tomorrow? I'd booked for August.
Disaster. Unfortunately, I'd made a mistake in my booking: I had planned to go in August but had inadvertently booked in July. And now there was no availability in August. I usually doublecheck everything but missed out - badly - this time. And of course there was no refund for a no-show on such short notice.
"I realize it's completely my mistake," I emailed.
"But if there is anything you could do on the financial side, I'd really appreciate it."
The reply eventually came: "We will refund your initial deposit."
Did that mean just the first deposit?
Well, at least that would be US$3,100 of the total US$10,850.
I kept an eye on my electronic credit card statement and was very relieved when a credit showed up for the entire amount.
I wrote a sincere "thank you" email, saying I looked forward to returning the money in the near future with another booking.
But refunds in a foreign currency are always at a lower exchange rate than purchases. So I was still out $916.76.
I phoned the credit card company.
"There's nothing we can do," came the unsympathetic response.
But "You never know . . . so give it a go." The next day I phoned again.
After making sure I wasn't talking to the same person, I explained my problem.
"Let me see what I can do," said the customer service contact.
A few minutes later: "That amount is above my authorized limit so I'll have to talk to my manager if you wouldn't mind holding." I didn't mind holding.
Another few minutes: "Yes, we can credit your account with $916.76."
So the next time you are in a similar situation: You never know . . . just give it a go.
Mike Grenby is a columnist and independent personal financial advisor; he'll answer questions in this column as space allows but cannot reply personally email firstname.lastname@example.org