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Travel Troubleshooter: Awaiting a refund for a Vantage cruise that was canceled in 2020

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David Maddox has been waiting years for a refund for his Vantage Travel tour. Why hasn't the company responded, and is there anything he can do to speed up the process?

Q: Back in 2019, I made a reservation for me and my wife to go on Vantage Travel's "Croatia & Culinary Gems of the Adriatic Coast" tour. Other members of our family were also planning to join us on this trip. I made the final payment of $20,655 for our trip in Oct. 2019.

As part of the cost of the trip, I paid $999 per person for a "cancel for any reason" travel insurance policy from Trip Mate. Part of the reason I had booked it was in case my sister-in-law's cancer returned. Unfortunately, it did, and she died before the trip.

In early 2020, we canceled our tour and initiated a refund request through Vantage Travel. I also submitted a claim to Trip Mate. Because of the pandemic, Vantage canceled our tour before its scheduled departure.

Trip Mate reviewed the claim and approved it in mid-2020, but said payment would be made by Vantage.

I have emailed Vantage multiple times and have made several phone calls. Twice on those phone calls, a representative provided the projected dates of when we would receive a refund. However, we have not received any refund or a written assurance as to when we will receive one. Can you help me get my $20,655 back? -- David Maddox, Arlington, Virginia

A: I'm so sorry about the loss of your sister-in-law.

You should have received a quick refund on your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses after Trip Mate approved your claim. I don't know why you didn't, but I know you aren't alone. Many travelers had the same problem during the early days of the pandemic. It was a confusing time.

You handled this one by the book. You bought the correct insurance for your needs. A "cancel for any reason" policy will allow you to cancel your vacation for any reason and receive a partial refund. But, some restrictions apply. Your Trip Mate policy, however, was a little different from the standard "cancel for any reason" policy. It lets you cancel, and you'll receive your entire prepaid, nonrefundable trip cost "in the form of a Vantage Travel Certificate for the cancellation penalty amount."

 

So, the best you could have done was a voucher. But, Vantage also canceled your cruise. In that situation, you should have had a choice between a voucher and a refund. It looks like things got confused between your claim, the Vantage cancellation and your refund request.

I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Vantage executives on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/vantage-deluxe-world-travel/. A brief, polite email to one of them might have "un-confused" the process.

Bottom line: You should not have to wait years for a company to refund your purchase.

I contacted Vantage on your behalf, and it refunded your cruise.

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Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Elliott's latest book is "How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler" (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.

(c) 2022 Christopher Elliott

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

 

 

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