Q: Earlier this year, my wife and I booked a trip with Overseas Adventure Travel to Greece and Turkey in late spring. When travel started to get restricted due to the coronavirus, we contacted Overseas Adventure Travel to inquire as to the status of our trip.
An Overseas Adventure Travel representative said that the trip was going to be canceled. She advised us to wait for notification of this, because when the company cancels a trip, the customer is due a full refund of all expenses. This had been specified in Overseas Adventure Travel’s terms and conditions when we booked the trip as well.
A couple of weeks later, we received a notice from Overseas Adventure Travel that they had rebooked us on a trip to the same destination in June 2021. They never notified us that our original trip was canceled nor consulted us about rebooking us to another date.
When we contacted Overseas Adventure Travel customer service, a representative told us that they “changed” their policy regarding refunds and would not be honoring the refund policy that was in effect when we booked our original trip. We told them that we do not want our $21,157 withheld by them, and we don’t want to plan a future trip in these uncertain times. Can you help us get a refund?
— Bruce Shickmanter, Lenox, Massachusetts
A: Overseas Adventure Travel should have refunded your money for several reasons. First, because it promised it would. And also because a refund is required under your state’s laws.
Why would Overseas Adventure Travel rebook you the way it did? Easy. It wants you to keep your travel plans. That benefits the tour operator and all of its suppliers. So, of course it’s going to do everything it can to prevent a refund.
Overseas Adventure Travel can’t renege on its refund offer. You could have reached out to someone higher up at Overseas Adventure Travel to appeal your case. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the executives at Grand Circle Travel, which owns Overseas Adventure Travel, on my consumer advocacy site, elliott.org/company-contacts/grand-circle-travel.
But there’s also the legality of the tour operator’s actions. Under Massachusetts state law, a tour operator must offer a refund when it cancels a trip. You could have complained to the attorney general as well. You can find the form at www.mass.gov/how-to/file-a-consumer-complaint.
What if that doesn’t work? I might have gotten in touch with your credit card company. Overseas Adventure Travel’s email offering a refund would have made your credit card dispute an easy win.
I contacted Overseas Adventure Travel on your behalf. It refunded the $21,157, as promised.
Christopher Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at elliott.org/help or email@example.com.