No refund from a canceled Canadian rail tour?

0

DEAR TRAVEL CAREER: I need your help in obtaining a refund of $6,339 for a Canadian rail tour from Rocky Mountaineer. Our package included airport, train and hotel transfers, with nights in Calgary, Banff and Vancouver.

Christopher Elliott, the travel convenience store

The trip, which we had booked in February 2020 and which was scheduled for May 2020, was canceled by the tour operator due to COVID-19. Rocky Mountaineer has offered a 110% non-refundable credit to be used against a new reservation that can be applied to the 2021 season and should have been used by the end of November.

I would have preferred a full refund rather than a credit for a trip we may never take. Rocky Mountaineer declined our direct request for a refund. I filed a chargeback via my credit card, but Visa sided with the tour operator. Is there anything you can do?

— Kay Nelson, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

RESPONNSE: Rocky Mountaineer should have offered you the choice of a full refund or a credit. This is standard for a COVID-19 cancellation. Many companies have tried to keep their customers’ money anyway, with predictable results.

The tour operator’s cancellation policies on their site are one-sided with regards to refunds. They tell you under what circumstances you can cancel and receive a partial refund, but they do not address a cancellation by Rocky Mountaineer.

You need to dig deep into the company’s terms and conditions – and know a little French – to know your rights when they cancel a tour.

Section 12 states: “Except in cases of force majeure, Rocky Mountaineer will refund the deposit or cost of the itinerary or, if applicable, a reasonable pro-rated share thereof. A force majeure event is an unforeseen circumstance such as a pandemic. In other words, if it’s an event beyond your tour operator’s control and they have to cancel, they keep your money and, presumably, will offer you a credit.

It’s hard to argue with a contract you’ve already signed. But you could have contacted someone more senior at the tour operator to plead your case. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of Rocky Mountaineer customer service contacts on my Consumer Advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/rocky-mountaineer/.

But I’m not sure that would have worked. Technically, you have accepted this contract, even though it may conflict with certain state laws. And that’s why I recommended you contact your attorney general to find out if the deal with Rocky Mountaineer might have violated North Carolina consumer protections.

You filed a complaint with your attorney general. In response, you heard from an attorney representing Rocky Mountaineer. The representative offered you a refund of $1,900 for the portion of your trip that included some of your hotel stays. It’s less than you wanted, but you accepted the refund and will use the rest of the credit for a train trip next summer.

Share.

Comments are closed.