SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ (WABC) -- A mom thought she had the perfect graduation gift; a long weekend for her star student/daughter in Seaside Heights. But when the home rental turned into a wreck with an incomplete refund, she called Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side.
"I mean never in a million years did I think that was going to happen. And I really wanted them to have a place," said Sue McGovern, rented house.
Instead, McGovern says her daughter Jess and 17 other seniors showed up for prom weekend and found a wreck.
"This is the order to vacate this building," McGovern said while pointing to a notice issued by the town's building inspector, that the vacation house was deemed unsafe. "Orange signs everywhere. You can't go in, she's crying, I'm crying."
McGovern says the group of graduates had pooled their money for months to afford the $4,500 price tag to stay in the house three nights last May. McGovern says the rental agent explained she had an emergency.
"There was a flood in the house and the kids couldn't get in there, they were pumping water," McGovern said.
Panicking parents scrambled to find other housing. McGovern wound up footing the bill for the friends to stay at a motel. But McGovern thought, no problem, the rental agent promised a refund right away.
"I tried call her and emailing her, and nothing," McGovern said.
So she submitted documentation and disputed the charges through her credit card but got back only a partial refund.
"I couldn't believe it. I was shocked," McGovern said.
The reason? AMEX said the rental agent told it "all services provided were satisfactory." So 7 On Your Side went looking for the owner and got the rental agent on the phone.
"What are we doing about the kids that went down for prom weekend and couldn't stay in the house you're representing?" Nina Pineda asked.
"All refunds were processed because she paid by credit card. As far we know everything was returned," the agent said.
7 On Your Side asked the agent to put that in writing and sent it to AMEX. And within a day, McGovern got the rest of her refund, $3,300.
"7 On Your Side saved my life," McGovern said. "I can put this to bed now, I'm overjoyed."
McGovern's saving grace was putting the charges on a credit card. That gave her some recourse to get money back.
Remember, generally you have 60 days after charges appear on your bill to dispute it. In this case, since the charges were much older, AMEX made an exception for this card holder.
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7 ON YOUR SIDE