Grand Circle cancels two of Ernest Belzil’s tours. But it refuses to refund his money. What’s going on?
Q: Grand Circle has canceled my tour from Paris to Normandy, France, two times. I’ve contacted the company by phone, email and U.S. mail, asking for a refund. They have not helped 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 chose the right tour but at the wrong time. Europe was iffy for American visitors during the early part of the pandemic, which is probably why Grand Circle had to cancel your tour twice. That’s completely outside the control of the tour operator.
Your right to a refund is buried deep in the terms and conditions of Grand Circle’s terms and conditions, its contract with you.
Grand Circle reserves the right to cancel or shorten a trip or cruise “without notice.” When it does, your sole remedy will be a prorated refund for any unused portion of the trip or cruise, calculated under the company’s typical business practices.
“Any 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 credit if it wants, rather than a refund.
But wait! Are those the terms to which you originally agreed? I checked the terms from early 2020, before the pandemic, and that last line about applicable refunds being returned to you in a manner determined by the company wasn’t there.
Companies like Grand Circle have argued that you are also agreeing to the new terms and conditions by accepting a credit for a future tour. And that means they can essentially continue to offer credit until you finally take a trip or give up. I’m not sure if I agree with that.
You could have found the Grand Circle executive contacts on my nonprofit consumer advocacy organization’s website. You might have tried reaching out to one of them to get this resolved. You kept a good paper trail, but you went overboard with my advice to keep things brief. Feel free to describe the steps you’ve taken to retrieve a refund, rather than simply asking for your money back.
I contacted Grand Circle on your behalf. The company has made its position on refunds clear to my advocacy team and me in the past. Nevertheless, we thought we would ask Grand Circle to take another look.
You received a phone call from Grand Circle. It agreed to refund your tour, minus a $300 cancellation fee.