David Maddox has been waiting years for a refund for his Vantage cruise travel tour. Why hasn’t the company responded, and is there anything he can do to speed up the process?
Back in 2019, I made a reservation for my wife and myself to go on Vantage Travel’s Croatia & Culinary Gems of the Adriatic Coast tour. Other members of our family were also planning to join us on this trip. I made the final payment of $20,655 for our trip in October 2019.
As part of the cost of the trip, I paid $999 per person for a “cancel for any reason” travel insurance policy from TripMate. Part of the reason was in case my sister-in-law’s cancer recurred. Unfortunately, it did, and she died before the trip.
In early 2020, we canceled our tour and initiated a refund request through Vantage Travel. I also submitted a claim to TripMate. Because of the pandemic, Vantage canceled our tour before its scheduled departure.
TripMate reviewed the claim and approved it in mid-2020 but said payment would be made by Vantage.
I have emailed Vantage multiple times and have made several phone calls. Twice on phone calls, a representative provided projected dates when we would receive a refund. However, we have not received any refund or a written assurance as to when we will receive one. Can you help me get my $20,655 back? — David Maddox, Arlington, Va.
I’m so sorry about the loss of your sister-in-law. You should have received a quick refund on your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses after TripMate approved your claim. I don’t know why you didn’t, but I know you aren’t alone. Many travelers had the same problem during the early days of the pandemic. It was a confusing time.
You handled this one by the book. You bought the correct insurance for your needs. A “cancel for any reason” policy will allow you to cancel your vacation for any reason and receive a partial refund. But some restrictions apply. Your TripMate policy was a little different from the standard “cancel for any reason” policy. It lets you cancel, and you’ll receive your entire prepaid, nonrefundable trip cost “in the form of a Vantage Travel Certificate for the cancellation penalty amount.” (Related: Will she get a $36,000 refund for her canceled Vantage Travel cruise?)
So the best you could have done was a voucher. But Vantage also canceled your cruise. In that situation, you should have had a choice between a voucher and a refund. It looks like things got confused between your claim, the Vantage cancellation and your refund request.
I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Vantage executives on my consumer advocacy site. A brief, polite email to one of them might have un-confused the process. (Related: He paid Vantage $18,536. Why is it taking so long to get a cruise refund?)
Bottom line: You should not have to wait years for a company to refund your purchase. (Here’s what you need to know before booking your next cruise.)
I contacted Vantage on your behalf, and it refunded your cruise.
Note: Since this story was published, Vantage has filed for bankruptcy protection and all refunds are going through a bankruptcy court.