BOSTON (WHDH) - Did your travel plans get grounded by the corona crisis? If you’re a Massachusetts resident fighting to get your money back Hank Phillippi Ryan found some potentially good news: you might be owed a refund! Hank Investigates.
With the inspiration of the Holy Land, the history, and the beauty, Heather planned her trip of a lifetime to Israel, longing to take in its majesty and mystery. After seeing it, she knew her life would never be the same.
“It had been a dream trip,” Heather said.
Heather had it all scheduled. She and her cousin would fly out of Boston in April–and spend two weeks touring the sacred sites: the Stations of the Cross, Masada, the Western Wall in old Jerusalem.
To make it happen, Heather budgeted her money, then went for it. She paid a tour operator more than $10,000 and bought a vacation wardrobe.
“It’s been on my bucket list forever,” Heather said.
But then corona hit and the company canceled the whole adventure.
“I was heartbroken,” Heather said.
Heather says she asked the tour company for a refund–but they said no!
“They were going to use the funds to keep the company afloat during the uncertain times because so many people were requesting full refunds. And I said, well, that’s not my problem. That’s my money. And it can come back to me during these uncertain times so that I can stay afloat,” Heather said.
The company was keeping Heather’s money? Our investigation found that’s against the law.
“If a tour operator cancels a trip, can they just say “no refunds?” Hank asked.
“We’d say that’s an unfair practice and illegal in Massachusetts,” Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General said.
Little-known Massachusetts regulations say if your tour company cancels, you can get a travel credit or a refund. And you get to choose.
“Do you think travelers know that?” Hank asked.
“You know, I don’t think they know that,” Healey said.
In fact, we found Heather and hundreds of other unhappy travelers have complained to the AG’s office that companies were keeping their cash.
“I’m trying to work to make sure that we get as much money right now for people so that they’re not delayed months or years as pursuing litigation,” Healey said.
Heather eventually got her money back. Her tour operator told us it has refunded more than $20 million dollars to consumers and continues to provide refunds daily.
Heather now has advice for other travelers who are financially stranded.
“Fight for your rights. I mean, these people have no right to hold your money,” Heather said.
If you’re trying to get your money back from a tour company, or need help with a travel-related situation, click here to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
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