Why won’t Sandals pay the last $34 it owes me?

When Faith Borucke is forced to rebook her stay at Sandals Antigua, she receives a reimbursement of her airfares except for an airline seat selection fee. Sandals refuses to refund this amount to her. Can our advocates persuade Sandals to compensate Borucke for the last $34?

Question: My husband and I booked and prepaid for a stay at Sandals Antigua for the middle of September. This amount included the resort fee and nonrefundable airfares on American Airlines.

Then we received an email that Sandals Antigua would be closed during our scheduled stay. We were told to call Sandals to rebook my vacation.

We moved up our vacation by a week and rebooked our flights on American Airlines for $1,234. Unfortunately, during the flight rebooking process, we found that my husband and I would not be able to sit together unless we paid $34 for an upgrade to a higher class of seating.

Sandals has reimbursed us $1,234 and offered us two free nights at the resort. But its representatives told us that because we didn’t initially pay for the seating upgrade, “they will only reimburse flight costs as I originally booked the trip.” They won’t reimburse us for the other $34.

This seems like petty nickel-and-diming. Can you help us get Sandals to refund us the remaining $34? — Faith Borucke, Baltimore

Answer: I agree with you — Sandals’ refusing to refund $34 when it covered the rest of your airfares does seem odd, even though you originally didn’t pay for the higher class of seating. But given that Sandals caters to couples, one would think that its representatives would understand that its customers would want to be seated together on their flights.

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Sandals’ terms of usage provide that

Certain airfares may be non-refundable regardless of time of cancellation. All cancellations of or changes to airfares are subject to applicable airline carrier restrictions. All airfare must be sold in conjunction with a Resort stay. Airfare cannot be sold as a standalone item. Unique Travel will apply any payments made toward the purchase price against any cancellation charges and will refund any balance remaining after the payment of any charges. In order to receive a refund, if applicable, Guest must request and receive a cancellation confirmation number. The cancellation charges outlined above are liquidated damages and not a penalty. Holiday periods may be subject to additional cancellation charges.

No refunds or adjustments will be made from any portion of your vacation or attendant services not utilized. …

All requested changes to reservations are subject to Unique Travel’s sole discretion, and any changes must be approved in writing. Only one name change permitted. Changes are subject to all applicable airline fare increases, government taxes, security fees, fuel surcharges and other charges and restrictions.

If the revised reservation is subsequently cancelled, the cancellation penalties for the original dates of travel will apply. …

Airfare may be completely non-refundable regardless of time of cancellation or change, depending on applicable airline carrier restrictions.

And that’s all the language it contains about airfare refunds. There’s no wording that prohibits Sandals from refunding seating upgrade fees.

You might have escalated your complaint to higher-ranking executives of Sandals using our contact information. Instead, you asked our advocates to help you obtain that $34.

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We reached out to Sandals on your behalf, and Sandals has agreed to reimburse you the seating upgrade fee.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org.

  • Chris_In_NC

    Unless I’m misreading something, Sandals wasn’t refusing to refund a “seating fee.” Rather when the OP rebooked her flight, the only seat assignments that were together was “preferred” seating and to book those seats she had to shell out an additional $34 dollars to get those seat assignments. Sandals then refused to reimburse the “additional” seat assignment fee which was not applicable to the original flight fare.

    I’m glad Sandals did the right thing. The OP should have been made whole because the rescheduled trip was through no fault of their own. But, to get $1234 PLUS 2 free nights, I’m questioning who is doing the nickel and diming here.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree…the OP received two free nights and they are complaining about $ 34.

  • Sue Smith

    I just find it hard to understand with all the other real problems people come to you with, why you would waste your time and effort on this. Seems a little petty to me.

  • Noah Kimmel

    I respect the OP for seeking to be made whole in their eyes. And I recognize that Sandals was good enough to not just reschedule, not just offer 2 free nights, but to also pay for flight differences. I think asking for a seat fee reimbursement as well is a bit too much, and not worthy of advocating. The 2 free nights are a gesture for the added inconvenience. Especially considering that it isnt a parent – small child travelling, I just don’t think they need to give $34 too. Glad they did, but a little greedy on the OP towards a company that seemed to be doing the right thing.

  • DReid

    Am I reading this right? Sandals made the OP aware of the situation and as unfortunate as it was, not only did they reschedule but did the right thing (which they didn’t have to do) and included two FREE nights. Let’s give kudos to Sandals for making it right. To now complain about a $34 extra fee which was optional is very petty and greedy. I’m actually a bit upset that an advocate took their precious time to advocate this case.

  • Annie M

    What resort fees is she talking about? Sandals doesn’t charge resort fees.

    But Sandals is famous for closing resorts with no notice and causing these kind of problems for their customers.

    Glad they stepped up to the plate after inconveniencing the customer. But Sandals doesn’t charge resort fees and you should correct that.

  • ChelseaGirl

    Sorry but I think that’s ridiculous. She says they were nickel-and-diming her, but I think she’s the one being petty.

  • Mel65

    Seriously? I do not get these couples who simply cannot be apart for a few hours on an aircraft. What are they afraid of? They don’t sit together and their spouse will fall in love with the person they’re sitting next to instead of them during the duration of the flight? Very petty.

  • Kairho

    “Resort” fees here obviously refers to the room rental payment. Close enough for someone who is not an industry professional nor aficionado.

  • Annie M

    Well it shouldn’t be stated that way at all because Sandals charges top dollar for their resorts and it is misleading to anyone who has not stayed there to think they will be charged a resort fee on top of the cost.

  • Kairho

    The article quotes Ms. Borucke using the term; the story IS reporting that correctly. As to Ms. Borucke using the wrong terminology I suggest you notify the tourism police.

  • Mel65

    “But given that Sandals caters to couples, one would think that its representatives would understand that its customers would want to be seated together on their flights”.

    Seriously? What is with these people who cannot stand to be seated apart for a few hours?

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