The Morning Call (Sunday)

Help! I’m still waiting for myy Vantage refund.

- By Christophe­r Elliott Christophe­r Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organizati­on that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.

A: Vantage shhould have refunded your toour within 303 days as it promiseed — and as it is contractua­lly reqquired to do. But it had no way of knowingk what would happen in theth next 30 days. In March, you’ll recall,all travel ground to an almost complete halt. Every one of Vantage’s suppliers experience­d similar delays. So the refund process slowed down considerab­ly.

How slow? Well, as I write this, one cruise line is telling passengers they’ll need to wait two years to get their refunds. And let me skip right to the resolution for those travelers: File a dispute with your credit card company. Ask your bank to take the money back.

But with this Vantage refund, I can understand the delay. It looks as if they were really sincere in their intent,

Last year, we booked a tour to Portugal and Spain through Vantage Deluxe World Travel. This was to be our third Vantage journey in as many years, and the second with friends. Including the optional tours, air, insurance and fees, my wife and I paid $12,959 for the tour.

This March, Vantage canceled the tour because of COVID-19 concerns. On March 16, I asked for a refund. Vantage agreed to issue a refund in 30 days.

Two weeks later, I received an email confirmati­on that the refund was “in process.” I have made numerous calls and three written requests since then. After 100 days, I am still awaiting the refund. Vantage is stonewalli­ng.

Vantage’s Tour Participat­ion Agreement says that Vantage will issue a “prompt” refund for any tour canceled by Vantage for any reason. Can you help me get my Vantage Deluxe World Travel refund? — Rick Pedersen, Fulshear, Texas

and they stayed in contact with you (at least initially). But you were more than patient and 100 days was plenty of time for Vantage Van to get its act together.

I’m glaglad you mentioned Vantage’sVantages TourTo Participat­ion Agreement, the legal contract between you and the tour operator. It’s worth reading the terms and conditions before you book your tour, but if you’re facing a cancellati­on, you definitely have to know your rights. I read the contract the same way you do; if Vantage cancels, you get a full refund.

Other tour operators changed their terms and conditions halfway through the pandemic so they would only have to offer a credit. Then they applied the rules retroactiv­ely. To its credit, Vantage didn’t.

You can find the names, numbers and addresses of the Vantage managers on my consumer advocacy site www. elliott.org/company-contacts/ vantage-deluxe-world-travel/.

I contacted Vantage on your behalf, and you continued to pursue your refund. Finally, on Aug. 14 — five months after promising it — Vantage fully refunded your $12,959. Better late than never.

So why am I writing about a case that resolved almost five months ago? My consumer advocacy organizati­on has a case backlog too.

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