Why were we forced to pay twice for our Alaskan wilderness adventure?

By | April 6th, 2017

Edward Palisin and his wife prepaid their Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour in Alaska, but they  cannot join in — unless they pay a second time.

Their question: Why won’t the booking agent issue them a refund?

Question: We purchased a land/cruise package to Alaska for August 2016 through RCI Travel Packages. The Denali Tundra Wilderness Tour was included in the package deal. While at the orientation meeting the night before the tour, we were informed we were not on the roster. The company conducting the tour (Premier Alaska Tours) had a cancellation and said we could join in if we paid another $350. We were traveling with two other couples and were looking forward to this tour, so we paid the fee … again.

When we planned the trip in November 2015, we wanted to ensure we would all be booked on the same flights, cruise, and tours. We got together as a group and contacted RCI via speakerphone to finalize each of our arrangements at the same time. We all paid the same amount for the cruise package that included the four-day land tour of Denali, and we received a written confirmation.

My wife and I were the only two who were bumped from the tour. The other two couples were listed as participants. RCI had inadvertently scheduled us for a different tour.

We would like a refund from RCI Travel Packages (administered by International Cruise & Excursion Gallery Inc., doing business as Our Vacation Center and/or ICE). When we returned in August, we requested the refund and have followed up several times. It is February, and we still have not received a refund.

Related story:   Turn it on

Can you please help us resolve this matter? — Edward Palisin, Strongsville, Ohio

Answer: It is disappointing that you have had to wait so long for a refund on a tour that you paid for twice. RCI Travel Packages should have reimbursed the $350 back in August.

You made a wise decision by booking your cruise, flights, and tour package at the same time with the same agent. Ordinarily, this would work to your benefit. Even though the confirmation you received from RCI was correct, an error occurred when it actually scheduled the tour, putting you and your wife on the wrong excursion.

Mistakes happen — but how companies respond to these oversights is what determines their repeat business and defines their reputation.

This case reiterates the importance of keeping a paper trail and any correspondence as proof of what was agreed upon and payments that were made. You did a great job. Unfortunately, RCI has been treating your request with disregard for almost six months. That is a long time to wait for a refund.

The attitude you displayed in your correspondence with RCI was very positive, and that is commendable. Even though you were the recipient of the error, you were not critical of the agent, nor did you downgrade the company. You were considerate and had a simple request — you just wanted a refund.

Since you ran into a brick wall, so to speak, and were getting nowhere in your requests, you contacted our advocates at Elliott.org. In their initial correspondence with RCI, they encountered the same treatment — their requests were ignored.

Related story:   I'm sorry, you can't take our rental off the island

The defining moment occurred when our advocates informed RCI that Elliott.org would be doing a story on this case and wanted its stance on the matter.

RCI will now be issuing you a refund for the tour. Maybe it just needed a nudge in the right direction.

  • deemery

    A company that “needs a nudge” from bad publicity after going comatose is not one I’d want to do business with.

  • Rebecca

    They didn’t need a nudge. They apparently needed to be dangled over a cliff, and only when their last finger was hanging on for dear life did they finally do something.

    These are the cases that really irk me. This OP did absolutely nothing wrong. In fact, he did everything right. The fact that the agent would ignore them like that when it is very clearly their error and 100% their fault is outrageous.

  • Annie M

    Add another to our list of companies not to do business with. The fact that they ignored you until you told them you were writing is a huge red flag about how this company’s customer service works.

  • Hanope

    The couple were lucky that the tour operator had a cancellation and there was still room for them, even though they had to pay again at that time. I’m amazed that a company could make such an error and refuse to make the refund until prodded with negative PR. I think this is another example of how companies have a tendancy to (1) take advantage of customers any time they can and (2) don’t have enough employees or pay enough to the employees to provide good customer service.

  • AAGK

    Disgraceful. I think the closest I may get to the Denali Tundra is wearing my Northface Denali fleece but if I do, I know to avoid RCI.

  • jsn55

    Three cheers for EdotO! Companies like this are the scourge of the travel biz. Of course mistakes happen, as you pointed out, it’s the way the mistake is handled after the fact. What a bunch of bozos.

  • PsyGuy

    I have this feeling (can’t prove it but I know it’s true), that when Chri nudges it’s a lot more nudging than when someone who isn’t Chris nudges.

    Also, this is another GREAT example of how real TA’s 1) Don’t always get it right. 2) Provide consumers another option for recourse.

  • PsyGuy

    We really need a Chris blacklist.

  • Lee

    Disgraceful that they only did the right thing when told a story about this mistreatment would be published.

    Truly lousy company behavior and customer service. Hopefully, a lot of people will learn of such actions by them and book with anyone else but this company.

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.