DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: 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, but I have not received it after numerous messages.
A representative said it would take 90 days to process a refund. I have since been in touch numerous times via email and by phone to ask for an update.
I would like the refund check for $2,400 to be sent 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 for the refund holdup. “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.
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.
It looks as if you appealed your case to the right people at UnCruise Adventures. Emails at the company follow a [email protected] format. You can also contact the company through its website at uncruise.com.
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.
I contacted UnCruise Adventures on your behalf, and finally, it issued the full refund it promised.