This report is meant to provide a ray of hope to those of you who fell for the free cruise to the Bahamas ploy that I did.
It happened a couple weeks ago, I received an unsolicited call from an automated polling system that told me that if I completed a brief survey I would be rewarded with a free cruise to the Bahamas. Curious, I allowed the call to continue. The entire survey took. 2.5 minutes, and then I was transferred to the booking agent, who informed me that Id be responsible for only the port fees and government imposed taxes the sum of which would be $118 for me and my wife.
But, they exclaimed, I could make it so much better by extending the vacation with a 3 day pre-cruise stay in Ft. Lauderdale (they would give me a free rental car), a 4 day post-cruse stay in Orlando, and they would even give me 3 days 2 nights on Grand Bahama for only an additional $630!
I hesitated, and they asked why. I want to clear it with my wife, may I call you back later or tomorrow? No, that wont be possible. Regulations require that we complete this transaction on a single phone call.
Let me get to the point now; these high pressure tactics continued, more rewards were thrown in, etc, and I took the bait. I used to pride myself on being able to spot a scam, and to resist exactly what Id just fallen to.
A couple weeks later I did a hefty amount of research on this, and similar, website, and determined that I WILL get a FULL refund for this mistake I had made. (Yes, I made the mistake). Now I jus thad to figure out how to get that refund.
Armed with the results of my research and documentation (all of which you'll find noted here below) I called the lions den up. Once I told the customer service rep that I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE I was transferred to floor supervisor George Norman.
George picked up, and politely inquired about why I wanted to change my reservation. I replied simply I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE. He persisted; there must be a reason other than that He was accusing me of withholding the true reason. This claim was repeated 2 or 3 more times. My response to each incarnation of this question was I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE.
George then noticed that the FAQ that I had access to on my reservation web site said that my refund period was only 3 days, and that those days had already passed. He further noticed that I had already completed the registration / payment process, complete with the good quality audio recording of me approving the charges, and repeating my name, address, email address, and credit card number. That may be, sir, but I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE
George then asked me to refer to the fine print, near the bottom of the FAQ that I could find online. If I did that then Id learn that the refund period is only 3 days, and that those had come and gone. I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE was my snappy reply. I was almost tired of even hearing myself repeatedly say that.
George was getting angry now, and he was continuing to pressure me to disclose the real reason for my change of heart. George, I dont owe you any form of explanation. I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE
Then we got back to the Refund Window question, and this is the crux of the conversation from this point on.
I had learned of the Florida Sellers of Travel Act (Florida statute section # 559.927 provides the definition of various words and phrases used in section # 559.932) which requires sellers of travel or travel vouchers who maintains a business location in Florida or who offers to sell to persons in Florida (section 559.927, paragraph 6) are required according to Section 559.932, paragraph 8. (h): In immediate proximity to the space reserved in the contract for the date and the name, address, and signature of the purchaser, the following statement in boldfaced type of a size of 10 points:
YOU MAY CANCEL THIS CONTRACT WITHOUT ANY PENALTY OR OBLIGATION WITHIN 30 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF PURCHASE OR RECEIPT OF THE VACATION CERTIFICATE, WHICHEVER OCCURS LATER.
When I spoke the phrase Florida Sellers of Travel Act the tone of the conversation changed dramatically; George was now noticeably hostile I can see youve done some internet research, is that why youre backing out? was Georges question. I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE was all I said. Well, that law doesnt apply here. What matters is the window for YOUR state, not mine, and I know the window for all 50 states and DC, Californias is 3 days, and the T & C you agreed to says 3 days. Youre out of luck.
George, are you telling me that if the fine print says that if the ships captain is annoyed by a guest, he may then murder that guest without repercussions that that would be legal? No, George, law trumps terms and conditions. My return window is 30 days and I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE.
George then told me that he has been a Florida resident his whole life and have worked here for 13 years, that he had spoken to thousands of people like me and that law is just an internet hoax. George, if thousands of people are trying to cancel their vacation with you, that might tell you something about the quality of your operation. I am referring to the Florida State Legislatures own site (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0500-0599/0559/Sections/0559.932.html) and this is no hoax. I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE.
At this point we are about 15 minutes into this debate, and voices are starting to climb in volume. George, my window is 30 days, we are within that window and I demand a refund. The yelling (him to me and me to him) continued for about 3-4 minutes. At some point here George had had enough of me, and he relented.
I am under no obligation to do this but fine, you can have your cancelation was his surrender.
Thank you, and that cancelation will include the complete refund of all my money? I asked.
Yes, youll have all your money back in 7 to 10 days.
Is there a cancelation confirmation number I may reference?
It is the same as your reservation number, and you have my name and operator number; George Norman # 4056.
Thank you very much, George.
It ended as quickly as it began. Wanting to verify that I had not been sold another bill of goods I waited about 15 minutes and called back in again. I asked the service rep to verify that my reservation status reflected the changes Id just made. After I identified myself she asked me to hold as she pulled up my account. She saw that it was presently being edited by Mr. Norman, and that I should give it 10-15 more minutes. I called back 30 min later, requested the same from another rep, who verified that the trip was canceled and that a refund was in process.
Bottom line: Stand firm! As long as youre within 30 days you are CLEARLY within the law with your request. Florida law applies to them, NOT the law of your home state. Dont take their crap, stand firm, and keep repeating something to the effect of "I have determined that this is not for me, Id like to CANCEL my PACKAGE. Also, have relevant portions of the above linked Florida law, and the bold sections copied in this report handy to read to the rep you deal with. Good luck!