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. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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