My initial post on My Covid – 19 Travel Cancellation Experience came out on 14.04.2020, which is over a month ago now.
I thought it is appropriate to write a follow up post or provide you with an update on my progress, or should I better say non – progress?
I also want to provide you with a possible solution if you find yourself in the same situation as I am.
My cruise, hence my main holiday for this year, got cancelled 47 days ago and it has been 47 days since my battle with the tourism companies started.
Do not get me wrong, I worked in tourism for many years myself and am aware what companies should and should not do. I am also aware that we need to cut them some slack and that we need to be more patient with them than usual. However, there is a limit to this.
I already talked about my pleasant experience I had with British Airways. I got my money back in less than two weeks and the lady in customer service was very polite and super helpful.
The other companies I talked about were Expedia and Carnival Cruises. And these are the companies I am still dealing with today and that I want to update you on.
Expedia: Marriott Hotel Group and United Airlines
Expedia keeps on changing their updates, details on the website and rules who and when customers are able (or better allowed?) to contact the company.
Since my last post, I managed to get my refund for the Marriott Hotel booking, wuhu! Nevertheless, I am still not able to get my refund for my flight.
I managed to contact Expedia via chat on the day I was supposed to take my flight with United Airlines. The chatbot allowed me to cancel my hotel booking and I was able to ask for a refund for this when I provided my booking reference number. It took a few weeks before the money appeared in my bank account, but hey ho at least I got that back.
I then went on to cancel my flight as well, after all it was a package holiday that I booked. However, the cancellation was not possible through the chatbot. I was offered to be connected to an agent instead, but when I selected “yes, connect to agent” the chat just ended and closed. I straight away started a new chat, but when I entered my booking reference number it stated that my booking was cancelled, hence resolved.
I was like, what the heck?
I have no means of getting in contact with Expedia after this happened. I cannot speak to a person and I cannot speak to the chatbot anymore neither as both require you to enter your booking reference number for verification.
I have found a way though to get my money back, which I will reveal at the end.
I told you before that I had mixed feelings with Carnival.
I was happy with their handling of the Covid – 19 outbreak at the beginning, but this changed when I had to request my full refund.
I did not get any notification or message stating that my refund was being processed or that they actually received my refund request form when I submitted this. So, after one week I decided to email Carnival to follow up.
I received a reply straight away from customer service, stating that my form has been received and that my refund was being processed. It was also mentioned that due to the higher volume in refund requests, it would take longer for the refund to come through. I was send an email verifying my cruise cancellation. So far, so good technically.
But, a month later and no money in sight. I decided to call Carnival this time, but was not able to get anywhere really. After a long and frankly exhausting call with an agent, I found out that it will take apparently 90 days for me to get my refund, that is three months! The given reason for this delay was again the high cancellation volume and refund requests.
I am sorry, I can live with 30 days wait, but three months is taking the mickey.
I also had $150,00 On Board Credit (OBC) against my booking that I needed to get refunded. I assumed the OBC would be refunded along with my cruise refund, but this was not the case. I had to request the OBC refund separately.
How do you get your money back in a timely manner and not after half a year or so?
Well, I guess there are three solutions, but only one if you want to get your money back.
There are two options to avoid the hassle, stress and pain that I am going through right now. These are:
- Opt for a voucher
- Rebook to a later date
Companies will be more inclined to help you if the money stays within the company. They are heavily relying on getting cash in at the moment to stay afloat and avoid bankruptcy. However, there are risks associated to this.
The other option is asking for a refund. Though many companies make it really hard to give you your money back. They prolong the refund process as much as possible, only offer you vouchers or in my case with Expedia make it impossible to speak to anyone from the company.
If you find yourself in this situation and you paid your holiday with a credit card, go to your bank and apply for a chargeback or a dispute.
Chargeback is a scheme offered by Visa, Mastercard and American Express to get your money back in case a good or service has not been delivered, provided or is faulty or the company you purchased the good or service from went bust and the goods were not delivered.
You cannot apply for chargeback, unless you tried to resolve the matter with the company you bought the good or service from. Only if you are really not getting anywhere, can you go to your bank to apply for chargeback.
If you decide to opt for this route, collect as much evidence as possible to support your claim such as emails and chat transcripts. Martin’s Money Saving Expert has a good guide on chargeback, which I would recommend reading.
I am slowly starting to recover my money, but it is taking very long and it is taking up a lot of my time. I am guessing it will take two months before I get all my money back.
So far, I managed to get all my hotel refunds and yesterday I saw that my OBC was refunded as well, which I got back through Visa chargeback.
I also got a portion of my cruise back already and am expecting the rest back over the next weeks.
The flight chargeback is taking a bit longer, but I am going to follow up with my bank next week to see how that is coming along and am hopeful, that I might be able to get the refund by the end of May.
Overall I am impressed by how cooperative the hotel providers were. The hotel refunds were the first once to come through.
Expedia and Carnival on the other hand are hanging on to my money right now, although Carnival said they will refund.
In the end, I had to resolve to chargeback for the flights, the cruise and the OBC, which I am sad. I did not want to resolve to such matters, but the holiday is or better was worth a lot of money for me.