Help! I’ve been waiting 2 years for a $7,443 refund from my cruise operator

Over two years in the past, Vantage Deluxe World Journey promised Sethu Krishnan a $7,443 refund for a cruise he canceled. However the firm by no means really despatched the cash. As an alternative, the tour operator despatched excuse after excuse concerning the lacking refund.

Ultimately, and identical to a whole bunch of different Vantage prospects, Krishnan reached the top of his persistence. He is hoping TPG may also help retrieve his cash from the noncommittal tour operator.

Here is his irritating story.

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Planning a cruise earlier than the pandemic

In fall 2019, Krishnan and his spouse started planning a cruise with their favourite tour operator, Vantage Deluxe World Journey.

“This was to be our fifth journey with Vantage,” Krishnan instructed me. “Earlier than the pandemic, this firm was glorious, and we all the time loved their excursions.”

The Krishnans selected a 14-day Portugal, Spain and Douro River cruise at a complete price of $13,572. In addition they bought the Platinum Journey Safety provided by Vantage and underwritten by Journey Mate for $1,350. That coverage provides a cancel-for-any-reason waiver, which the couple discovered interesting.

The Douro Valley Is a phenomenal cruising vacation spot. ROBIN ALLEN PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

Below that coverage, the Krishnans would obtain a full money reimbursement if particular occasions named within the waiver compelled them to cancel the cruise. These occasions are known as named perils. If the cancellation was attributable to another motive not named within the coverage, the couple would obtain reimbursement within the type of a future journey credit score with Vantage.

All through the winter, the Krishnans fortunately appeared ahead to their springtime cruise. That’s, till February 2020. That’s when a lot of the world turned conscious {that a} international well being disaster was brewing.

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On March 7, 2020, amid rising considerations concerning the attainable pandemic, the Krishnans canceled their cruise.

“The cruise was scheduled for Could 2020, so we have been about 67 days out,” Krishnan defined. “Since we had bought cancel-for-any-reason journey safety, we weren’t involved concerning the penalty.”

Sadly, Krishnan was about to find that his Platinum Journey Safety did not provide the travel insurance coverage he hoped it did.

Vantage: File an insurance coverage declare to get your refund

When Krishnan canceled the cruise, Vantage instructed him to file a declare with Journey Mate. He shortly did that, citing considerations concerning the coronavirus as the explanation for the cancellation. Simply as swiftly, Journey Mate rejected his declare.

“Journey Mate denied our declare as a result of concern of the coronavirus was not a coated motive for cancellation [that would lead to a cash refund],” Krishnan explains.

On the day the couple canceled their cruise, they have been in a 40% penalty part. Vantage would solely refund the Krishnans $7,443 in money. Because of the cancel-for-any-reason Platinum Safety, the stability of what they paid could be returned within the type of a $6,158 future journey credit score with Vantage.

Inside weeks, Vantage despatched affirmation of the long run journey credit score and a promise that the $7,443 would quickly comply with. However by that point, the World Well being Group had declared a worldwide pandemic, and the cruise industry had been completely shut down. That closure compelled the cancellation of hundreds of cruises and instantly put your entire business in monetary peril.

The Krishnans’ money refund was not going to come back by anytime quickly.

A two-year battle for a cruise refund from Vantage

All through the pandemic, Krishnan stored up a vigilant pursuit of his refund. He constantly known as and wrote to Vantage asking for updates. Every time he reminded the corporate of the $7,443 it owed him. And every time, the customer support agent would thank him for his persistence and remind him that the worldwide pandemic was stopping the corporate from processing refunds at the moment.

However after one 12 months with no signal of his refund, he was operating out of that persistence. And when the cruise industry began setting sail again, he let Vantage know he was carried out ready.

In October 2021, Vantage despatched Krishnan what, on the floor, seemed to be encouraging information about his refund. At the moment, a senior customer support agent knowledgeable him he would lastly obtain his cash in eight to 10 weeks. However as soon as once more, it turned out to be an empty promise.

In early 2022, Krishnan as soon as once more pushed the corporate for solutions about his lacking refund and identified that the pandemic appeared to be winding down. Subsequently, he instructed Vantage, it was time to present again his cash.

Vantage returned his e mail with one more commonplace message stating, “Thanks on your persistence” and an acknowledgment that their refund processing was “barely delayed.”

Then in Could 2022, he acquired one other uncommon rationalization for the delay. Not solely was the eight to 10-week processing promise out the window, however inexplicably, the timeline for the refund had been prolonged into the “unknown.”

“Expensive Mr. Krishnan,

Sadly, current world occasions have triggered us to as soon as once more redeploy our workforce to deal with time-sensitive journey points, operational challenges and an unexpectedly giant variety of inquiries requesting updates / adjustments to present itineraries. In consequence, we’re as soon as once more unable to offer a timeline on when we can course of your refund request.

Sort regards,

Mira Delgado, Vantage Deluxe World Journey”

It was changing into clear to Krishnan that he was by no means going to see his $7,443.

TPG’s Ashley Kosciolek speaks to the New York Occasions about Vantage

To say that pursuing his Vantage refund consumed a lot of Krishnan’s time throughout the previous 27 months is an understatement. However sending emails, making cellphone calls and studying by the many complaints about Vantage on the BBB (the place it holds a one-star total evaluate) wasn’t getting him any nearer to his refund.

Not figuring out the place else to show, he despatched a plea to The New York Occasions and requested for his or her help in exposing the corporate.

“Many of the prospects of Vantage are retirees on a hard and fast revenue. They’re being ripped off by the corporate’s phrases and situations concerning refunds, cancellations and journey safety. I respect your help make the folks conscious of the predatory insurance policies.”

Shortly after Krishnan despatched his letter, he learn an article within the New York Occasions’ “Tripped Up” column about one other Vantage buyer’s irritating refund campaign. In that article, TPG’s senior cruise writer Ashley Kosciolek provided some expert perception into the issue with Vantage.

When Krishnan reached the top of the article, he was disillusioned however not stunned to learn that even the New York Occasions couldn’t assist safe a refund for a Vantage buyer.

Nonetheless eager to shine extra gentle on Vantage and its refusal to ship promised refunds to its prospects, Krishnan despatched a request on to Ashley.

“I’m a Vantage buyer ready for a refund,” Krishnan instructed Ashley. “I’d respect your help make prospects conscious of Vantage Journey’s unethical practices.”

Because of Ashley, Krishnan’s request for assist landed in my e mail field.

A cruise operator struggling to remain afloat throughout the pandemic

The pandemic actually hit the cruise business laborious, and many companies did not survive. Different journey suppliers simply barely made it. Vantage would look like a kind of corporations.


As a shopper advocate, I’ve responded to a whole bunch of emails from pissed off Vantage prospects for the reason that starting of the pandemic.

All of those previously loyal Vantage prospects have related tales to inform, with slight variations. Some, like Krishnan, preemptively canceled their excursions earlier than the pandemic compelled Vantage to cancel them itself. The cancellation phrases of his contract and the Platinum Journey Safety are clear: On the date the couple canceled, they cited a concern of COVID-19 as the explanation. That meant Vantage owed them a 60% money refund and a 40% future journey voucher.

However many different Vantage prospects didn’t cancel their journeys. They waited it out, assuming that if the tour operator canceled the cruise first, it will owe 100% refunds to its prospects.

At the very least that’s how issues labored earlier than the pandemic.

Nevertheless, when Vantage needed to cancel all its scheduled excursions after the pandemic was declared in March 2020, the corporate routinely issued future journey credit to most of its prospects as a substitute of refunding them.

Nonetheless different Vantage prospects discovered themselves booked on new future journeys with out even the slightest session from the corporate. As I mentioned on ABC Information, Vantage claimed it hadn’t canceled any trips – it had solely postponed them. So, the corporate reasoned, it did not owe its company refunds, however it will enable the traveler to rebook an alternate journey if the one Vantage had routinely bestowed on them wasn’t to their liking.

Vantage had bent the definition of the phrase canceled to an unrecognizable state. The corporate knowledgeable its prospects it was not in a position to function their excursions as scheduled. That’s a cancellation in most individuals’s books – however all of the sudden Vantage was calling it a postponement and asking its prospects to let their funds trip with the corporate.

Within the fall of 2020, I reached out to Vantage to seek out the way it justified this new interpretation of the phrase canceled, emailing my contact there the next:

“Our workforce is attempting to determine what’s occurring right here. Did Vantage change the phrases of their contracts after the pandemic started? Is there one thing within the Vantage contract that permits Vantage to cancel the excursions and preserve the visitor’s fee indefinitely?

A postponement is a cancellation, it doesn’t matter what label you place on it.”

In response to that e mail, Vantage assigned an govt to evaluate all of the complaints piling up in our advocacy workforce’s inbox.

Progressively, over many months, as the corporate started working excursions once more, refunds began to look. The method continues to be sluggish going, however when Ashley forwarded Krishnan’s criticism to me, I used to be hopeful that we might lastly finish his seemingly countless battle with Vantage.

Lastly, a refund from Vantage Journey

Once I went by the various pages of correspondence with Vantage that Krishnan had gathered over the previous two years, I shared his frustration. He had politely and constantly requested for this a refund, however every response from the corporate contained the empty promise that his refund would quickly be processed.

Lastly getting that refund in spite of everything that point needed to be an exquisite feeling. TONY ANDERSON/GETTY IMAGES

Vantage owed him $7,443, and he had waited lengthy sufficient. I despatched his case over to our govt contact at Vantage to see why Krishnan was nonetheless ready in spite of everything this time.

Inside a number of days, Krishnan lastly acquired his long-awaited refund.

“Good Morning, Michelle!

Thanks for circling again to me on this one. I do come bearing some excellent news! Our Accounting Division has processed the Krishnans’ refund at present to their AMEX ending in **** for $7,443.20.”

Krishnan is thrilled that he can lastly put this battle to relaxation. However he stays involved for the various different Vantage prospects he is aware of are nonetheless ready for his or her refunds.

“Thanks on your assist,” Krishnan instructed me. “I sincerely hope Vantage will do the best factor and make the legitimate refunds to all prospects.”

That is a hope that we share.

Coping with tour operators

If you happen to or somebody you realize continues to be ready for a pandemic-era refund from Vantage or another tour operator, there are some things you are able to do to nudge the corporate alongside.

Be sure you’re owed a refund

Sadly, throughout the pandemic, many vacationers preemptively canceled their cruises and different excursions earlier than the businesses formally canceled. That was a mistake for a lot of of those shoppers. If an organization cancels your journey, typically, it owes you a full refund. However when you cancel first, the cancellation phrases of your contract will dictate your refund eligibility.

And keep in mind that even in case you are owed a refund, it is going to be processed again to the unique type of fee. So when you paid for the journey with journey credit, you wouldn’t obtain a money refund. Step one in acquiring your lacking refund is to be sure to will really be eligible for one, although.

File a criticism together with your state’s lawyer common

If you happen to’ve been struggling to get a journey supplier to course of a refund you realize it owes you, the next step is to file a criticism together with your state’s lawyer common. You too can file a criticism within the state the place the corporate is predicated. In Vantage’s case, that is Massachusetts. Here is how you can find your state’s attorney general.

Take them to court docket

Relying on the worth of your lacking funds, you could possibly file a small claims case in opposition to the corporate. This can be a a lot simpler course of than submitting an everyday lawsuit. In fact, amassing a small claims award can be tough. Your state lawyer common’s workplace ought to be capable of provide you with steering that pertains to your state. If the worth of your declare exceeds the small claims limits, you’ll be able to go to the American Bar Association to get a legal referral and decide if and how you can pursue a lawsuit.

Do not surrender

When an organization has a prolonged checklist of refunds to course of, the squeaky wheel will usually get the grease (or, on this case, the refund). If you realize you are owed a refund, do not surrender. Persistently ship the corporate reminders and let their workforce know you are not going away. By politely and often sending these reminders, you simply would possibly discover that your request rises to the highest of that refund checklist.

Backside line

The pandemic created unimaginable issues for journey suppliers around the globe. Many of those previously well-respected corporations have been blindsided by the sudden shutdown of their business, together with their sudden incapability to conduct regular enterprise. Sadly, shoppers who had cruises and different pay as you go holidays scheduled as we entered that darkish time, have shared the monetary impression.

Because the journey business slowly returns to regular most respected corporations are doing their greatest to return all of the funds which can be owed to their prospects. Vantage is a kind of corporations that’s hoping to regain the belief of its loyal prospects.

If you happen to’re a kind of vacationers nonetheless ready – and ready – on your promised refund from Vantage or another tour operator, cruise line, lodge, automotive rental firm, or trip rental company ship your request for assist to, and I will be comfortable that will help you get your a refund into your pocket, too.

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