Uncruise owes me a refund! What’s going on here?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Thomas Anderson’s Alaska cruise gets canceled during the pandemic, UnCruise Adventures promises a refund. But it never shows up. What can he do?

Question

I’m trying to secure a refund from UnCruise Adventures for an Alaska cruise canceled during the pandemic. UnCruise Adventures agreed to a $2,400 refund last July (2020), but I have not yet received it after numerous messages.

A representative said it would take 90 days to process a refund. I have since been in touch to ask for an update numerous times via email and by phone. But I haven’t received anything yet.

I would like Uncruise to send me a refund check for $2,400 as soon as possible. Can you help me? — Thomas Anderson, Quincy, Mass.

Answer

If UnCruise Adventures promised you a refund within 90 days, it should have sent you one. Why didn’t it?

UnCruise Adventures, which operates small ship cruises in Alaska, Central America and Hawaii, was hit by a wave of cancellations during the pandemic. It turns out the company was waiting for a federal disaster loan to repay customers like you.

In an email sent to you last fall, the company blamed a delay in its federal disaster financing on the delay. “The most recent information from our bank indicates that approval is now not likely until after the election, making it mid/late November as our best and latest estimate for your refund processing,” a representative wrote. “This is very disappointing for all of us here at UnCruise Adventures, and I am sure for you as well.”

But that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. If a company promises a refund, it should have enough cash to issue the refund. UnCruise Adventures should have been upfront with you: It didn’t have the money to repay you, and it didn’t know when it would get the money.

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I’m troubled by these pandemic refund cases. It’s not just UnCruise Adventures. Many other travel companies, big and small, didn’t have the money to refund their customers after their cancellations. Of course, a pandemic is a once-in-a-generation event, but you would hope that businesses would learn a lesson from this and not treat their customers’ money as an interest-free bridge loan to get them through a crisis. I’m not sure if they have learned that lesson.

I don’t know the specifics of UnCruise Adventures’ situation. But I do know that your primary contact, a business development manager, is no longer with the company. I was sorry to hear that.

Here’s your Uncruise refund

It looks as if you appealed your case to the right people at UnCruise Adventures. Emails at the company follow a firstnamelastinitial@uncruise.com format. (So if I worked there, I would be “christophere” followed by uncruise com.) You can also contact the company through its website.

I reviewed your correspondence with the company. You kept thorough records and were always polite. That’s great self-advocacy. I’m not sure if calling UnCruise Adventures helped your case. It appears the company didn’t have the money to send you at the time. (Related: UnCruise canceled our Alaska cruise. Do we have to accept a credit?)

I contacted UnCruise Adventures on your behalf, and finally, it issued the full refund it promised.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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