'It is frustrating': Parents still hoping for full refund after students' trip to Europe cancelled
WOODSTOCK -- The parents of dozens of Woodstock students whose trip to Europe was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year said they're still waiting for a full refund.
Julianne Meyer and her friends had been planning for the trip of a lifetime for almost a year.
"We were supposed to fly into Paris and then fly out of Amsterdam," said Meyer, who is in Grade 12.
The 10-day vacation was organized by Huron Park School in Woodstock. The students were supposed to leave in May.
"It just all fell apart, which was really upsetting," Meyer said.
Parents and students were notified about the cancellation back in March. Parents told CTV News Kitchener that they'd paid $200 for cancellation insurance, meaning they'd get a full refund minus the insurance fee. However, they said the refund wasn't issued.
"I paid about $3,600 and received $0 back," said Rachel Meyer, Julianne's mother.
Rachel said the travel agency sent her an email notifying her that they'd sent a cheque for $1,500. But, she said she never received it.
"I'm not sure if they're playing games and trying to get out of paying," she said. "It is frustrating."
Another parent, Naomi Force, said she's received a partial refund, but claimed she's getting the runaround from the insurance company and the travel agency.
"Explorica (the travel agency) has said they have sent all the info to Old Republic (the insurance company), but Old Republic is saying they haven't gotten all the information," Force said. "So, it is he said, she said."
Her daughter, Ocean, was disappointed she wasn't able to go in the first place.
"I was pretty sad when it was cancelled, because it would have been the trip of a lifetime," she said. "I probably won't ever get to go."
CTV News Kitchener reached out to Old Republic, but did not receive a response by 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
In an emailed statement to CTV News Kitchener on Monday, an Explorica spokesperson said the company has "met all obligations required of us under the terms, contracts, and seller of travel laws, that are in any way related to the adjudication of these claims."
"In fact, our team has now twice submitted all the information required to process a claim, including auditing and resubmitting all documents in July at Old Republic’s request. Per a new request from Old Republic and subsequently from Arch Canada, we are also expediting additional requests for information that are outside the scope of the Terms & Conditions. Our team has continued to meet with Trip Mate to help them resolve this issue with both underwriters, while also paying out the portion of refunds that are being provided directly by Explorica under our Terms and Conditions," the statement said in part.
The company said that Canada's Insurance Act advised that underwriters "should be negotiating any dispute they have after the claims are paid to families – not before."
The spokesperson also said Explorica has reached out to the impacted customers about the next steps to file formal complaints.
"We will not stop advocating for our clients until they have been refunded," the statement said.
There are around 40 families impacted by the school trip. They said they've banded together and will keep pushing until the issue is resolved for everyone.