Grand Circle cancels two Ernest Belzil tours. But he refuses to refund his money. What is going on?
Q: Grand Circle canceled my tour from Paris to Normandy, France twice. I contacted the company by phone, email, and US mail, requesting a refund. They did not help me in any way. My only option is to book a new tour with the credit.
I want a full refund of the $5,824 I spent. Can you help me? – Ernest Belzil, Mesa, Arizona
A: You have chosen the right circuit but at the wrong time. Europe was uncertain for American visitors at the start of the pandemic, which is probably why Grand Circle had to cancel your visit twice. This is completely out of the tour operator’s control.
Your right to a refund is buried deep in the terms and conditions of Grand Circle Terms and Conditions, his contract with you.
Grand Circle reserves the right to cancel or shorten any trip or cruise “without notice”. In such event, your sole remedy will be a prorated refund of any unused portion of the trip or cruise, calculated according to the Company’s usual business practices.
“All applicable refunds will be returned to you in a manner to be determined by the company, including but not limited to credit for future travel,” it says.
Did you get that last part? Grand Circle says it can give you a credit if it wants, rather than a refund.
But wait! Are these the terms you originally agreed to? I checked the terms from early 2020, pre-pandemic, and that last line about applicable refunds being returned to you in a manner determined by the company was not there.
Companies like Grand Circle have argued that you also agree to the new terms and conditions by accepting credit for a future tour. And that means they can essentially keep offering credit until you take a trip or give up. I don’t know if I agree with that.
you could have found the Grand Circle Executive Contacts on the website of my non-profit consumer advocacy organization. You may have tried contacting one of them to resolve this issue. You kept a good paper trail, but you went overboard with my advice to keep it brief. Feel free to describe the steps you took to collect a refund, rather than just asking for your money.
I contacted Grand Circle on your behalf. The company has made its position on refunds clear to my advocacy team and myself in the past. Nonetheless, we thought we’d ask Grand Circle to take another look.
You received a phone call from Grand Circle. He agreed to refund your visit, less a $300 cancellation fee.