Help! One Company Refused to Refund Travelers More Than $100,000

My trip to Egypt with Overseas Adventure Travel was scheduled to depart in late March. O.A.T. canceled the tour because of Covid-19, which was a relief. The company notified me of the cancellation and offered either a credit for rebooking or a full refund that would have included airfare. The next week, I learned via email that I had been rebooked on the same trip next year. Unbeknown to me, the stated policy had changed: O.A.T. was no longer offering refunds. I told them that I had a medical condition and did not know when — or if — I would be able to travel, and asked whether they were just going to keep my $17,500 if I couldn’t travel by the end of 2021. Answer: Yes.

I feel I am being held hostage by O.A.T. How are they allowed to keep my money? Roz

They’re not. But, if the extraordinary number of reader complaints I have received — more than a dozen and counting — are any indication, they have been doing so anyway.

Overseas Adventure Travel is part of Grand Circle Corporation, a family of travel companies based in Boston. The small-group and cruising company has been recognized nationally.

Translation: When they cancel your trip, they are legally required to offer you the money back.

But even when individual consumers know their rights, they have few options at their immediate disposal when a customer-service representative — usually the only public-facing proxy for a company’s official or unofficial policies — refuses to relent on refunds.

It’s not hard to surmise, just by reading your email, what happened at O.A.T.: the realization that issuing refunds en masse would bleed the company dry. Tweaking the immortal words of Biggie: no money, mo’ problems.

To determine if my hunch was correct, I reached out to O.A.T. While they didn’t answer my question directly, I was able to recoup more than $100,000, collectively, for you and 10 other readers. Some got total refunds, while others (including you) received partial refunds or continue to wait for certain fees and sums to clear.

In an emailed statement, an O.A.T. spokeswoman said the company is “working to improve our processes and to better address the needs of each traveler whose trip was canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. We are either rebooking travelers on another trip or providing a refund.” Since mid-March, she said, O.A.T. has refunded more than 5,000 travelers — amounting to more than $12 million.

Back to O. A. T.: In a follow-up note a few weeks ago, you said that you feel the company provides a “good travel service.” But, you wrote, “pushing all the risk of uncertainty onto the client by refusing a refund makes me fearful to ever do business with O.A.T. again.”

You raise an important point. Even though people can’t travel right now, many of us are continuing to dream about our next trip — and that means making conscious and subconscious decisions about which companies to spend money with once the pandemic has passed.

Sahred From Source link Travel

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