After the COVID-19 outbreak, Brent Norgaard cancels his trip to the United Kingdom. But why is his travel agency keeping the money for his BritRail passes?
Q: Last year, I bought an eight-day BritRail pass through ACP Rail. I couldn’t use the tickets because of the COVID-19 outbreak. I asked for an extension, and a representative told me to return the paper tickets. I did so last summer. Since then, I’ve inquired several times about the status of my extension. They say they are working on it.
It’s been more than a year. Could you please help me get either an extension or a refund for my BritRail tickets? — Brent Norgaard, Minneapolis
A: If ACP Rail offered an extension for your BritRail tickets, it should have processed the extension quickly. ACP is a distributor of rail products. It has an exclusive arrangement to sell BritRail tickets, so it should have been able to fix your ticket quickly.
What happened? The pandemic. ACP was working on thousands of ticket requests like yours. And what should have been a routine extension turned into a one-year wait.
“Given the fact that we have been off-premise for almost four months and due to the backlog of work, we do expect some delays,” a representative told you. “We are doing our utmost to ensure all cases are actioned as quickly as possible but ask for your kind patience as we diligently work through the backlog.”
It looks as if ACP intended to refund your tickets rather than try to extend them. You can read its refund rules on the ACP site. Generally, rail tickets are more flexible than airline tickets, and you were better off just taking the refund and buying new tickets when you needed them.
Under the terms of your purchase, you should be able to get a full refund. BritRail notes that it will refund your purchase if “the unvalidated pass or original exchange coupon or voucher is returned to the office from which it was purchased within 11 months from the date of issue (unless a different time period is specified by your travel agent). Passes or tickets must bear no evidence of having been tampered with in any way.”
Curiously, there’s no promised timeline for a refund. But I think you’ve been more than patient with ACP Rail and BritRail. It’s time for action, regardless of the pandemic.
You could have appealed this first to the agency and then to BritRail. We list the names, numbers and email addresses of the BritRail customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
I contacted ACP Rail on your behalf, and it issued a full refund, as promised.