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I am experiencing an unusual problem. I would love input from a finance person who knows how international transfer works. Here is the summary.

I visited Australia from India last year. While in Australia, I paid for hotel bookings for a holiday in New Zealand. This was done through a travel agent in Australia. One particular hotel in New Zealand asked me to pay up the hotel stay charges because they had not received the money from the travel agent, even though I had a confirmed itinerary from the travel agent. I had no idea of what goes on between the hotel and the travel agent. Anyway, I paid up. From my perspective it was a double charge. I had already paid the travel agent for the hotel. After paying the hotel, I sent an email to travel agent about the issue (while still in New Zealand). The following working day, the travel agent admitted the lapse and attributed it to a ‘system error’ and the money was sent to the hotel. I asked the hotel to refund the doubled up charges. The hotel processed the refund transaction and gave me a receipt.

Here is when it gets interesting. I waited for the refund to show in my account - 1 week, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months... Still no sign of refund.

Some more details - The refund was for a Visa Debit card (not credit card). The Visa Debit card is issued by an Indian bank. I sent numerous emails to the hotel and to my bank. I called my bank after coming back to Australia (from New Zealand) but no hint of where the money was. Upon coming back to India, I met with a bank manager. I was told that the money had not been received by the bank. The bank manager sent me a document that shows a transaction with the Merchant Reference No that matches the RRN on the refund receipt from the hotel. Strangely, however, the transaction amount is only half of what it should be, plus the Beneficiary Name is someone else’s name.

I passed the document to the hotel. The hotel is however, adamant that they have processed the refund. My bank claims that they have not received the money. After endless emailing and calling, I am no closer to finding out where my money is. The money seems to have gone into a black hole.

What can I possibly do to track the money in case of an international transaction ?

Thank you !!

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  • Can you possibly ask the hotel manager to ask their bank?
    – user253751
    Apr 21, 2023 at 12:07
  • Can you give a rough idea of the amount involved? That would have some impact on the viability of different options for chasing it up. Apr 24, 2023 at 9:05
  • @user253751 the hotel's manager is not taking any action to track it except bring in 'proof' of settlement from the ecommerce processing company. They have provided a settlement report as proof. However, that has not helped so far.
    – Guddi
    Apr 25, 2023 at 1:01
  • @Apologise to Monica the amount is about 700NZ.
    – Guddi
    Apr 25, 2023 at 1:02

2 Answers 2

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One possible solution is to escalate the issue to the Visa network's dispute resolution team, as the refund was processed through a Visa debit card. You can provide all the relevant details and documents to the dispute resolution team and they can investigate the matter further. Another solution is to contact the Reserve Bank of India and file a complaint against the bank for not resolving the issue. Additionally, you can possibly seek legal assistance or hire a debt collection agency to recover the refund amount.

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  • I wrote a complaint to Visa India. They replied saying that they are unable to do anything as the transactions are handled by the card issuing institution.
    – Guddi
    Apr 25, 2023 at 1:03
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The key institution here is something called the "acquiring bank". This is the hotel's bank. When the hotel issues the refund, they do so through their bank, not yours.

So, who you want to talk to is the acquiring bank, which you will need the hotel's permission to do and you need the hotel or your bank to tell you the identity of the acquiring bank. You can try writing the acquiring bank or calling them.

Most likely the mistake was made by the acquiring bank, so they are the ones that need to fix it.

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  • yes I have made several requests to the hotel to track the transaction further down the line. If they had done that, then possibly the acquirer bank can provide some info. However, the hotel has not done that. At best, they have provided the 'proof' from the ecommerce company that they use. I believe that the ecommerce company that they use will have the ability to contact the acquirer bank if they wanted to. However, it is the hotel who has to direct their ecommerce company to initiate the tracking of the money.
    – Guddi
    Apr 25, 2023 at 1:07

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