DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: My husband and I booked a nine-day land package to see the national parks in June 2020 through Insight Vacations. The tour operator canceled, but it refuses to refund the money. It will only offer a future travel credit that expires this year.
We booked the travel through our timeshare agency, RCI, and used points for the booking to get a discounted price. After the cancellation, RCI quickly credited the points back to our account, so we are happy with them.
But Insight Vacations will not budge. They say their policy is to only issue a credit. However, we’ve seen on the Better Business Bureau complaint page and on Facebook that they did issue a refund to some people. We may not be able to use a credit in the future. We just want our $5,517 back.
— Lisa Kovens-Harris, Pikesville, Maryland
ANSWER: I’m sorry your national park tour didn’t happen. It looks like such a fun adventure — nine days in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. And then the pandemic happened.
Insight Vacations was correct to cancel its tours. And its cancellation policy (www.insightvacations.com/us/information/booking-conditions) is clear. If it cancels because of an unforeseen event like a pandemic or natural disaster, it will offer a future travel credit to the value of funds paid to date less any third-party costs. All future travel credits will be valid for 24 months from the date of issue.
It isn’t clear what the terms were at the time of your purchase. After the pandemic, some tour operators changed their rules to allow them to keep your money.
What is clear is that the rules weren’t being enforced evenly. You say some customers were getting refunds and wondered why you couldn’t. That’s a fair question. But I also think there might have been some wiggle room since you booked your vacation through RCI and used points for part of the purchase. Whose terms would apply then — Insight Vacations’ or RCI’s?
Although I don’t publish the executive contacts at Insight Vacations, finding a manager isn’t difficult. All employees use the email naming convention [email protected]. You can easily find a list of executives online. I would have sent a brief, polite email to one of them, pointing out some of the inconsistencies and asking for a refund. But remember that if the terms of your purchase says no refunds, it would really be up to the tour operator to make an exception for you.
I contacted Insight Vacations on your behalf. It refunded your $5,517. I hope you get a chance to rebook this tour. I think you’ll enjoy it.
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