Rocky Mountaineer canceled Kay Nelson’s rail tour across Canada last year. Then the tour operator gave himself permission to decline his refund request and instead give him an expiring voucher. What’s going on here?
I need your help in getting a refund of $ 6,339 for a train trip to Canada from Rocky Mountaineer. Our package included airport, train and hotel transfers, with overnight stays in Calgary, Banff and Vancouver.
Rocky Mountaineer canceled the trip, scheduled for May 2020, which we booked in February 2020. The company offered a 110% non-refundable credit to be used against a new booking which can be applied to the 2021 season and should have been used by the end of November.
I’d rather Rocky Mountaineer give me a full refund rather than a credit for a trip we might never do.
Rocky Mountaineer declined our direct request for a refund. I filed a chargeback through my credit card, but Visa sided with the tour operator. Is there anything you can do? – Kay nelson, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Rocky Mountaineer should have offered you the choice of a full refund or a credit. This is the norm for a COVID cancellation. We received many complaints during the pandemic, just like yours, in which companies canceled a trip and kept the traveler’s money.
In your case, the tour operator’s cancellation policies on their site are one-sided with regard to refunds. They tell you under what circumstances you can cancel and receive a partial refund, but they do not process a cancellation by Rocky Mountaineer.
You need to delve into the company’s terms and conditions – and know a bit of French – to determine your rights when they cancel a tour.
Section 12 reads: “Except in cases of force majeure, Rocky Mountaineer will reimburse the deposit or charges for the itinerary or, if applicable, a reasonable pro-rata share thereof.
Force majeure is an unforeseen circumstance such as a pandemic. In other words, if this is an event beyond your tour operator’s control, and if they need to cancel, they will be able to keep your money – and, presumably, will offer credit.
It’s hard to argue with a contract you’ve already signed. This is one of the reasons you lost your credit card dispute. As Michelle explains in her article on credit card chargebacks, the Fair Credit Billing Act only allows a consumer to succeed against a merchant in very specific circumstances.
Rocky Mountaineer responds to your request for reimbursement through his lawyer.
But you could have contacted someone higher up at the tour operator to argue your case. I explain how to politely escalate your request within a company in my complete guide to solving consumer problems. We post the names, numbers and email addresses of Rocky Mountaineer’s customer service contacts in our corporate contact database to facilitate this process.
But I’m not sure it would have worked. Technically, you have agreed to this contract, although it may conflict with certain state laws. And that’s why I recommended that you contact your attorney general to find out if the deal with Rocky Mountaineer could have violated North Carolina consumer protections.
You have filed a complaint with your attorney general. (FYI: here’s how our readers can find the attorney general for their state. )
In response, you heard from a lawyer 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’ve agreed to the refund and will use the rest of the credit for train travel next summer.