Can this trip be saved? She didn’t make it to Marrakech after all

By | June 6th, 2011

Here’s another reason to double-check with your tour operator before you take off.

Linda Taylor waited until she was on the way to the airport to send an email to the company running her Morocco tour. Good thing she did; there was no tour.

There’d been a bombing and the whole thing had been canceled.

“We cancelled right after the bombing as we always put our clients safety first,” the tour operator said in a message.

The only reason Taylor had emailed her tour operator was because her flight arrival times had changed a few times. Otherwise, she had no clue that the tour might have been called off. She’d received no call, no letter, no email. (Subsequently, her tour operator forwarded an email that it said it had sent the day after the bombing.)

So, disaster averted, right? Well, not exactly.

The tour operator, a small business that combines luxurious accommodations with yoga, hiking, exercise and healthy cooking classes, offered $500 to cover the cost of her airline ticket and one night’s lodging. But Taylor says that’s not enough.

I do think it is fair to ask her to reimburse me for the flight I booked originally to go to Morocco ($351) as I will not be reimbursed for this through the airline, as well as the money I spent on getting to the airport in Paris (60 euros in gas, 10 euros in tolls, 11.50 euros in parking = $120), as I would not have incurred these costs had I been informed prior that the trip had been canceled.

Thus, I am asking for, in addition to the $500 refund for the trip that was canceled, a reimbursement for $470 for my loss of flight and transportation to and from the airport. I do think this is fair, as I would not have spent the entire day traveling to and from the airport and the wasted airfare had I known the trip was canceled prior.

At that point, the exchange turns a little testy. Her tour operator fired back:

We are not in a position, nor are we obligated to pay you back for anything other than what we cancelled well in advanced. Additionally, we elected to cancel all the sessions and therefore take a financial hit in order to put our clients safety first- we very well could have go forward with the sessions and not been obligated to refund money, but that is not how we operate.

I’m sure the operator meant to say “advance.” Anyway, Taylor wants to take the tour operator to small claims court, even though the operator claims it emailed her and mailed her a letter, notifying her of the cancellation.

Here’s why I’m on the fence about this case. Anytime you travel, but especially when you go to a volatile part of the world, you double- and triple-check everything. Taylor should have been keeping an eye on the news and phoned her tour operator to make sure the trip was still on after the bombing.

I think this could have turned out much worse. She could have made her flight to Marrakech and then waited for a tour group that never showed up. Not to mention possibly put herself in danger.

Should her tour operator refund the $470 for going to the airport that day? Had the company failed to make any attempt to notify her, then maybe Taylor would have a stronger case. I think there may be other ways of addressing her problem — a discount on a future trip, perhaps even a sincere apology.

(Photo: ja s_gd/Flickr Creative Commons)

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