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  #1  
Old February 16th, 2008, 06:40 AM
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redhd62330 redhd62330 is offline
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Angry Do NOT use debit card at embarkation!!

We took a cruise on the Millie and I had to be airlifted off due to medical reasons. Thank God my TA had taken the travel insurance for us which paid for the flight. They flew us to the nearest hospital which could handle the problem which was in Miami. I was called while in Miami from Celebrity regarding the bill. I told her all of that information was at my home and I would call and get it settled when I got home. I called the day I got home and asked if they would use the debit card I had given them when boarding for the incidentals and send me a detailed bill of the ships hospital charges which were $4131.00 and I was told ok. Imagine my surprise when I checked my bank account and was overdrawn by $3200.00. I went in and spoke to the bank manager and she said Celebrity had gotten an auth number for a smaller charge and then debited for the total charge. She said although it was not right, it was legal and the bank had to pay. Now I cannot get a detailed bill from Celebrity so I can get my money back. Not only do I have heart problems, I have a lot of stress from Celebrity. They got theirs so I am left hanging in the wind.
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  #2  
Old February 16th, 2008, 06:57 AM
RichardK RichardK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redhd62330 View Post
I told her all of that information was at my home and I would call and get it settled when I got home. I called the day I got home and asked if they would use the debit card I had given them when boarding for the incidentals and send me a detailed bill of the ships hospital charges which were $4131.00 and I was told ok.
A few comments:

First, glad you're OK

Second, I think what I quoted above really lent to the problem. They are a business, and like any business want to get paid for services rendered at that time --- i.e., just like when you're cruise is over, the shipboard charges are settled immediately. Now, when you got home, AND IF you called and said here's my credit card number to charge medical to, etc., all would have been fine; however, you asked for a bill, in which you'd need time to receive, review and settle up at some later date. They may not have thought you'd stiff them; however, neither would you be paying for services rendered immediately which is their business norm. Despite what Celebrity (some person) might have told you, once the accountants got their hands on your sizable bill due, they acted as is customary for them.

Third, your situation was unusual. I'd think that most people are still OK using a debit card upon embarkation, unless the balance in their account is low.
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  #3  
Old February 16th, 2008, 08:26 AM
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Lsimon Lsimon is online now
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Default I agree - no debit cards for me!

Personally, I don't like debit cards for a few reasons:

1. They seem particularly bad for securing credit for future payment. This would include things like checking in at a hotel or ship, guaranteeing a hotel room, renting a car, and even paying for gasoline at the pump instead of inside the station. This is because when you do these things the vendor does an authorization on the card. For a credit card this just takes a portion of your credit limit, but for a debit card it actually freezes cash in your bank account and makes it unavailable until the authorization is removed or expires. Sometimes the removal of the authorization doesn't work the way you'd expect it to. I know lots of people that have lost use of their money, or had their accounts overdrawn, due to these authorizations - not a good situation. If you prefer to use a debit card then use a credit card to register and then use your debit card to settle the account in person at the end of your stay or use - that way no advance "authorization" freeze should be placed on your bank account.

2. Once a business has your credit card they will sometimes put through unexpected charges. For example you check out of a hotel and after you settle your account they find a billing error or late charge. They often will just run this through. At best it hits your bank account unexpectedly but if the charge is erroneous then your money is gone and you have to get it back and have lost use of the cash until it is resolved. The point is that with a debit card you are giving up control of cash in your bank, and not just part of your open credit on an unpaid bill. This is the root of redhd62330's problem.

3. Fear of errors and fraud. If you have erroneous or fraudulent charges on your credit card you can resolve them before you pay your bill, or just refuse to pay it. But with a debit card you cash is gone! You might be able to get it back but you won't have the cash until if, and when, you do.

4. Credit cards provide limited protection against fraudulent charges and some charges for goods or services that end up being not as represented. Debit cards provide little or no protection in this area.

5. You can generally get credit cards which provide some sort of rewards benefit (airline miles, cash rebate, etc) and other fringe benefits while debit cards don't provide these.

Our banks normally just send us debit cards instead of ATM cards. I've gone back to the banks and cancelled our Debit cards, where possible, and requested a plain old ATM card. If I lose my wallet, or have by debit card stolen, I don't want the missing card to be a door to ALL the cash in my bank account. Again, while some banks provide theft protection on debit cards it will be a red tape process to get your money back AFTER it is gone. One bank which doesn't offer an ATM card any more at least allowed me to put some restrictions on my Debit card, like a prohibition against approving authorizations which exceed the available cash in my account. You might think they do this anyways but they do allow these in many cases! This won't prevent overdrafts entirely, but does help some.

Now ask me how I really feel about these cards!
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  #4  
Old February 16th, 2008, 09:48 AM
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Default That's just wrong!

Belinda,

I hope you’re feeling better and getting some rest. I watched your early departure from Millie and it was enough to give me heart problems just seeing it.

I think Celebrity combining your onboard account charges with your medical without your authorization is just plain wrong. While it may not violate any laws the practice of getting an authorization number on one amount and using it to charge a much higher amount I sure is a violation of the merchant agreement with the creditor. Not providing a receipt for the charges is a violation as well.

If it were me I would talk to someone in authority at Celebrity to correct this and subtract any overdraft charges from your balance.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery,

Joel & Colleen
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  #5  
Old February 16th, 2008, 11:21 AM
biker1972 biker1972 is offline
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I too have used the ship's hospital. Spent a day in the one on the Connie. It seems there signs about payment and paperwork to sign that indicated that payment was due when the services were rendered and that the doctor was an independent contractor.
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Old February 16th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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I urge you to contact an attorney immediately. The amounts involved are quite large and the possibility that you might damage your case by saying or doing something is significant. And because insurance is involved you may well have good recovery potential. And if you have health insurance of any kind there may also be additional coverage.

A debit card is the equivalent of opening up your bank account to a vendor and you may have yet more unexpected surprises coming soon. Lsimon makes a great case for staying with credit cards for shipboard accounts.

By the way, the merchant pays much less in preocessing fees to run a charge through a debit card than a credit card because when the debit card is used, the processor actually takes the money directly from the card holder's bank account just like it was cash so there's no subsequent billing and collection effort involved.
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Last edited by Host Walt; February 16th, 2008 at 12:21 PM.
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  #7  
Old February 16th, 2008, 11:42 AM
greatam greatam is offline
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I'm having a really hard time understanding what the complaint is.

Celebrity bills for onboard medical charges at the time of service. This is customary and normal practice and would have been billed to whatever method of payment was presented upon embarkation. Just so happens it was a debit card, so money was IMMEDIATELY deducted from a bank account.

If I understand correctly, the OP wanted X to send a bill for the medical charges, so it could be turned in to a travel insurance policy.

Maybe the real issue is understanding EXACTLY how travel insurance works. They generally do not operate like your own personal medical insurance-show your insurance card, get service, straighten out who owes who what at a later date.

NOT the case with travel insurance-you are generally required to PAY FIRST, then send in bills for reimbursement. Applies to most conditions of a travel insurance policy-miss the cruise due to bad air arrangements, you pay for air to the next port FIRST, THEN collect from the travel insurance.

The OP should be reimbursed by the travel insurance company upon presentation of the detailed bill. A phone call to the proper dept at X (probably accounting) should produce a detailed bill. INSIST that the TA handle some of this. It's what the TA is supposed to do.

Last edited by greatam; February 16th, 2008 at 11:44 AM.
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  #8  
Old February 16th, 2008, 11:42 AM
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redhd62330 redhd62330 is offline
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Post Thanks for best wishes

Thank everyone for the good wishes. To be honest my DH signed some papers but I do not know what they were. The ships Dr. thought I was having a heart attack so I was not given the papers. Maybe they thought that would make the problem worse (LOL). I have to laugh about it or else I would be crying. I told Celebrity that my insurance would pay the bill but they need an itemized bill not just a line item saying medical_$4131.000. I also told them that if for some reason the insurance did not pay it, the travel insurance would pay it but both need an itemized bill. This is what I cannot get from them. I am having all kinds of problems because of this. Celebrity is no help at all. I cannot get an itemized bill and I have called them more than once and they just do not care. Anyway, it was nice meeting you Joel and Colleen and my brother told me you asked about me onboard.

Belinda
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  #9  
Old February 16th, 2008, 11:56 AM
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When we used the medical facilities on Freedom of the Seas an itemized bill was sent to our stateroom. Since you were not there they should have a copy somewhere. They do have one.

And yes, the charges were put on our SeaPass account the same day as service.

Good luck with the paper work.
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  #10  
Old February 16th, 2008, 09:53 PM
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Sea Island Lady Sea Island Lady is offline
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Unhappy I'm sorry you had to learn a lesson the hard way

and do hope you are able to get to the bottom of this mess. The most important thing is that you are alive and well.

Thank goodness your TA suggested insurance! Was this your first cruise? I see that you are new to Cruise Critic. Perhaps, had you been a member longer, you would have read where debit card use is not advised for use on the cruise. You are not the first person to report having overdrawn charges, etc..

My DH is a banker and he will tell you to never use a debit card on a ship, in port, overseas, online or for booking hotels. Although his bank has theft protection linked with their debit cards, it's still a bad idea to use the card other than obtaining cash from an ATM, grocery shopping and small purchase shopping. Always use a credit card when traveling, or take Travelers Cheques.

PS -
Quote:
I was called while in Miami from Celebrity regarding the bill. I told her all of that information was at my home and I would call and get it settled when I got home. I called the day I got home and asked if they would use the debit card I had given them when boarding for the incidentals and send me a detailed bill of the ships hospital charges which were $4131.00 and I was told ok.
Sounds to me that Celebrity tried to help you out in the beginning by calling you to ask about paying your bill. They could have (and normally do) just gone ahead and charged the card on file. Perhaps they just misunderstood when you said to charge the incidentals.

What type of information did you have at home that you needed to call them back about?

Last edited by Sea Island Lady; February 16th, 2008 at 10:01 PM.
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  #11  
Old February 16th, 2008, 10:34 PM
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The OP has been a member for years; she just doesn't post a lot.
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  #12  
Old February 16th, 2008, 11:25 PM
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I see the date, now.
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  #13  
Old February 16th, 2008, 11:59 PM
ocngypz ocngypz is offline
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Home Office (Miami) usually does not receive onboard accounting records until about 6 weeks after the sailing. However, the charges for medical are not itemized. What the insurance company needs is the itemized medical charges... with all the service codes.. just like you see on your own dr's bills.
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  #14  
Old February 17th, 2008, 12:30 AM
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Happy Cruiser 6143 Happy Cruiser 6143 is offline
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Thumbs down Sorry to hear about your troubles

Hope you are recovering.

Here is another wrinkle about credit cards. When I boarded the Millie on February 3, they were having trouble with their computers. They thought they had it fixed, but apparently not. I received a call the morning we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale saying that I needed to report to the purser's office to settle my account immediately. I asked why and they informed me I was on a cash basis. I told them that I had presented a credit card at check in and they should charge the amount to that card. No dice. They do not accept credit cards the day you get off the ship. Cash only. Good thing I didn't have a large balance on my shipboard account! I asked why they had waited to the last minute to inform me of this. They alleged they had sent letters to my stateroom every day. Told them I hadn't received them. They actually accused me of throwing them away! That really left a bad taste in my mouth.

So, the moral of this story, is don't trust anything. Always check. They didn't have my captain's club number in my booking either, but I noticed that and was therefore able to correct it with the captain's club hostess. Guess that should have been a clue to mosey on over to the purser's desk while I was down there.
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Old February 17th, 2008, 01:32 AM
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Belinda / redhd62330
Will you email me - I have something I'd like to share off line.
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  #16  
Old February 17th, 2008, 07:29 AM
RichardK RichardK is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greatam View Post
Maybe the real issue is understanding EXACTLY how travel insurance works. They generally do not operate like your own personal medical insurance-show your insurance card, get service, straighten out who owes who what at a later date.

NOT the case with travel insurance-you are generally required to PAY FIRST, then send in bills for reimbursement. Applies to most conditions of a travel insurance policy-miss the cruise due to bad air arrangements, you pay for air to the next port FIRST, THEN collect from the travel insurance.
A similar "business model" applies likewise to the cruise industry -- obtain immediate payment for services rendered from their Pax.

Imagine their nightmare if they had to "chase" people for payment afterwards. For RCCL, with about 50,000 cabins filled per week, every week, with passengers from dozens of countries, using various methods of payments --- they'd have to hire about 100 extra people in their Miami office. Plus, bad debt, overdue payments, lingering disputes, etc.

For cruise lines it's simple -- get the money then and there. Result is that Pax wind up disputing charges AFTER they have paid, not before. It's the only reasonable business model that works for this quick-turnover type of business.

Last edited by RichardK; February 17th, 2008 at 07:45 AM.
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  #17  
Old February 17th, 2008, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy cruiser 3131 View Post
Hope you are recovering.

Here is another wrinkle about credit cards. When I boarded the Millie on February 3, they were having trouble with their computers. They thought they had it fixed, but apparently not. I received a call the morning we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale saying that I needed to report to the purser's office to settle my account immediately. I asked why and they informed me I was on a cash basis. I told them that I had presented a credit card at check in and they should charge the amount to that card. No dice. They do not accept credit cards the day you get off the ship. Cash only. Good thing I didn't have a large balance on my shipboard account! I asked why they had waited to the last minute to inform me of this. They alleged they had sent letters to my stateroom every day. Told them I hadn't received them. They actually accused me of throwing them away! That really left a bad taste in my mouth.

So, the moral of this story, is don't trust anything. Always check. They didn't have my captain's club number in my booking either, but I noticed that and was therefore able to correct it with the captain's club hostess. Guess that should have been a clue to mosey on over to the purser's desk while I was down there.
If available, my husband checks his onboard account in-room. If not, he goes down to the purser about 2 days after we board, to make sure the account is straight, and then again the night before we disembark, so that there are no misunderstandings.

On the second day of our last cruise, DH noticed a charge for $5.18, in-room minibar use. We had not used the mini bar at all, but he decided to let it ride and didn't question the charge to the room steward, Hector. Each afternoon, DH had been purchasing, from the pool bar, one beer for in-room consumption while we readied for dinner. It so happened that the charge was $5.18. We just assumed that Hector saw an empty can in the trash that first night and thought my DH had taken it out of the bar. Amusingly, on the last evening after dinner, there was a shiny new beer sitting on our room shelf. The steward must have realized his mistake and left DH a beer. DH did not drink it and left it for Hector.
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  #18  
Old February 17th, 2008, 06:24 PM
Robinsilver Robinsilver is offline
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When we were on an RCCL cruise 11 years ago, my DH was injured when we were in St. Marteen, and was in the ship's infirmary over night until he could be air-lifted from St. Thomas. We were charged for that overnight stay, plus over $500 of telephone charges that I had to make so that I could arrange for his surgery in NY, airlifting to NY that was done by American Express because the cruise insurance would only take him to Miami, and calls to family members because I was not able to return with him because they could no accomodate me and our 2 children and luggage. He needed a type of surgery where the best specialist in the country was in NYC, so that was where we wanted him, besides the fact that we live there. What has happened to you is a lesson in what people should not do, not because what Celebrity did was wrong, but because you had to incur excessive charges due to your illness, and did not anticipate having that amount charged to your debit card. When you left the ship's hospital, were you or your husband given an itemized receipt? We were not able to get that back from our own insurance company because it was not coded properly, however we did collect it from the cruise insurance company.
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  #19  
Old February 17th, 2008, 06:57 PM
fleckle fleckle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardK View Post
For cruise lines it's simple -- get the money then and there. Result is that Pax wind up disputing charges AFTER they have paid, not before. It's the only reasonable business model that works for this quick-turnover type of business.
This is precisely the reason to use a credit card, never a debit card, as Lsimon pointed out. The money remains in your bank account earning interest for you after the cruise is over. You need not pay anything until the due date of your next credit card statement, which is typically more than a month after the cruise ends. That gives you plenty of time to examine the charges well BEFORE you pay them. Furthermore, if you notify your credit card company that you are disputing a charge, you do not even pay the disputed amount, so you avoid that exasperating situation of trying to get your payment back.
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  #20  
Old February 17th, 2008, 07:35 PM
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redhd62330 redhd62330 is offline
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Thumbs down Just to clear up a few items

I used my debit card out of my own stupidity and not knowing that any amount could be charged to it regardless of the circumstances. My insurance is Humana and if I remember correctly the ships hospital made a copy of it and I thought it would bill the insurance company. I can understand why they would not do this but I wish I had been told before we left the ship that they were going to charge everything to my debit card. This was my 6th cruise and I had never had a problem before. I am not asking for anything other than an itemized bill for me to submit to my insurance company. This has nothing to do with the travel insurance although they did tell me they would cover it if my regular insurance did not. Thank God for the travel insurance. I am sure they do a lot of business too but they always helped and made me feel like they truly cared about me and the needs of my DH and myself. I would just like an itemized bill from Celebrity before I am sued by my bank. Unlike some other cruisers, I save for our vacations and do not have an extra $4000.00. I know the custom is to pay for bills before disembarking but I did not anticipate disembarking in a helicopter. Thanks for letting me vent.
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