Can this trip be saved? The guest canceled — so who covers the refund? By Christopher Elliott | August 8, 2011 Suzanne Cohen runs the Santa Barbara Adventure Company, a tour operator that offers kayaking trips in California’s rugged but breathtakingly beautiful Channel Islands National Park (no, that’s not hyperbole; check out our coverage from last year if you don’t believe me). It’s a one-hour ferry ride to the island, and the fare is included in the price of the kayak tour. The ferry is nonrefundable within seven days of a trip, and so are her tours. But like everything else in life, there are exceptions to that policy. She writes, I have a guest who was scheduled for a kayaking trip today. This trip requires a ferry boat transport to get to the island. The ferry boats leave at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., depending on the date. We talk to hundreds of guests in the office each week about this trip. It is our most popular trip. Today a guest did not show up and our guide called her from the dock before the boat departed to see if they were planning to attend the tour. The guest claims that she thought the boat transport was at 9 a.m. for the day and the reservationist (which was me) told her the departure time was at 9 a.m., otherwise she wouldn’t have booked the trip. This woman has had her confirmation with the meeting time for a week – her confirmation gives all the correct information for the trip and specifics she should check in between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. It is possible I gave her the wrong start time over the phone or that we were talking about a different date than she ended up booking, so the start time changed during the conversation. Does the guest have a responsibility to review her confirmation when she gets it to ensure the tour she is booked on is the one she wants? Or should I apologize and give her the refund she requests? Excellent question. Cohen says this isn’t the first time she’s had the problem, and is trying to come up with a “reasonable” policy for the future. What should she do? This is no small amount of money: $170 per person for the tour, plus ferry seats at $59 per person. This feature normally deals with grievances between consumers and businesses, but it’s rare to get a look from the other side. This isn’t an easy one. If Cohen inadvertently told the guest to be there at 9 a.m. but gave her a confirmation that said 7 a.m., then there would be shared responsibility. Yes, the guest is responsible for reading the confirmation, but if she was told to show up a 9 a.m., that might be a little confusing. I think the guest should have tried to clarify the start time by phoning the Santa Barbara Adventure Company. As to its policy, you might remind customers that it’s their responsibility to read the confirmation and verify the time for themselves. But at the end of the day, a tour operator is in the business of serving customers, and are you really going to stick them with a penalty of several hundred dollars? I’m interested in your suggestions. Should Cohen refund the tour? What should her policy be? By the way, I do have a resolution on this, and I’ll share it this afternoon. Update: As promised, here’s what happened next. A few days after I asked Cohen if I could write something about her situation, she sent me the following update: To let you know, I did issue a full refund to the woman yesterday. This means that I will pay for her two ferry tickets and eat the two spots she booked on a full tour on a Saturday in July (tour cost $170 per person – ferry seats $59 per person). I really feel that she had a responsibility to look at her paperwork, as all the information was correct on her forms and she had plenty of time to review it. It also came out during the conversation that she reviewed the paperwork the night before and realized that the tour had an earlier check-in time than she thought, but instead of getting to the dock on time, she decided not come. This is about the third time a guest has not read paperwork and then arrived for the wrong trip or date. I would really appreciate some feedback on this issue and how to handle it when it comes up next time. Alright, any advice for her? Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus Carver She should make it a standard part of her phone routine to tell the guest that they should check the confirmation for accuracy. She should also allow late guests to rebook at a later time, on a space available basis Elmo Clarity If the operator said one time but the confirmation stated a second time, the client needed to point this out when they got the confirmation. If they did at that time, then a refund would be appropriate. However, it sounds like this client either never checked the confirmation or they changed their mind and tried using this for an excuse to back out. There is a reason clients are sent confirmation. To make sure everything is scheduled as planned. It’s not the travel provider’s fault if the client doesn’t do their job and verify it was booked correctly. S E Tammela I think she should rebook/credit the customer, but not refund. I understand that in this case it’s going to cost the operator, but them’s the breaks, and at the very least you have the opportunity to give the customer a good experience which they’ll pass on to friends by word of mouth. A simple refund doesn’t give you that opportunity – nobody bothers to tell anyone about a refund ;) S E Tammela The article hasn’t been totally clear on this, but I suspect the ferry seat costs $59 every time regardless of whether the customer turns up. So offering a rebook for later isn’t quite a case of having space available that would otherwise cost the operator nothing. One option would be an emphasis that the customer MUST check their confirmation, or must reply that they’ve read it. The operator already has a “no refunds” policy within the last week, which in my opinion is fair, since there’s planning and costs involved even if the customer bails out earlier than that. At some point the customer has to take some responsibility :) http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/ John Frenaye Eat the ferry tickets, apologize for the confusion (not for a mistake, we don’t know if it WAS a mistake) and offer her a spot on a future tour. I am sure since she talks to hundreds daily and it is the most popular tour, she has some influence with the ferry operator and most likely this will not cost her anything. Grey83 I would offer the tour again for free, but say that the ferry ticket is out of her control and that the confirmation states the correct time. Tony A. If the customer ordered a 9AM trip and the company made her believe she was getting a 9AM trip then the trip should be at 9AM regardless of what the itinerary or future confirmation prints. The “meeting of the minds” was for 9AM. Sending a confirmation does not trump the verbal agreement. If the company wished to change the time of departure or correct its misquote of the time. they should have called the customer and get the customer’s agreement. Merely sending the customer a different confirmation time and expecting the customer to acquiesce sounds too onerous to me. I vote for a refund. Mbods2002 I said “yes”, just as a matter of good customer service, this time, as she really doesn’t have a clearer plan yet. She should have all this in CAPS on her confirmations and people who book trips should read back the itinerary, just to double check the info is correct. The “no refunds” after a certain point should at least be stressed over the phone or on the website and customers encouraged to double check their confirmation for accuracy. Tony A. To avoid future misunderstandings, I suggest the company prepare a simple Itinerary and Price Quote for the customer first and let the customer SIGN (written or electronically) the ORDER FORM and enter their credit card information on the same form. This will force the customer to read what s/he is actually buying. This will prevent the he said – she said problem. http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Dervin/1299140134 Michael Dervin Normally, I’m inclined to agree with the operator, except for the line “Cohen says this isn’t the first time she’s had the problem…” Is the operator confusing customers on a consistent basis? Or is this customers missing the ferry and trying to get a refund? If it’s the first, I think the operator should offer another trip for free. [Some Guy On the Internet who thinks he knows more about a business than the person who owns it] She should change her offerings so this type of confusion becomes impossible to make. for example: The tours only leave at 8am. [/SGOTIWTHKMAABTTPWOI] If it’s a history of guests missing the ferry and trying to get a refund or a free trip out of their general lameness, the operator wouldn’t have to refund anything. The guest know in their heart of hearts they were in the wrong and they won’t tell their friends about “The bad service.” Because at least one friend will ask “Well, if the email said something else, why didn’t you call again?” doctork Chris, If one gets a refund, the word circulates very quick. On the other hand if the refund is not returned, this also is spread. Years ago while in Seoul, I took a plane to Cheju Island, south of the mainland for a vacation. Due to windy conditions, the plane couldn’t land and had to return to Seoul for a few hours. Some felt this was the Ides of March or a message from God. They left. Most stayed and wound up at Cheju, a beautiful place and a honeymoon capital for the Japanese, a few hours later. Those who left did not get refunds. Why should she? jayne52 I have a feeling the guest may have overslept, or maybe had a tiring day before and wanted to cancel, using the two different travel times to her advantage. I would offer to rebook- but no refund. Even if she had only been off by an hour, she should have been almost ready to leave for the later trip, and perhaps made it to the dock. She should have read the confirmation on any kind of trip- many tours have you muster ahead of time, it is just a routine thing to do. The last word- get your tour times in writing, and go by what the written confirmation says. Fishplate “Sending a confirmation does not trump the verbal agreement.” I would disagree. In fact, I would expect the written instructions to trump the verbal. You might be confused by what you hear over the telephone, but much less so over what’s unambiguously written on a page in front of you. Sharon Even if the guest was mistakenly told that the ferry was leaving at 9; when the guide called just as the boat was ready to leave at 8, it sounds as though the guest wasn’t anywhere near to being on her way to the dock. The check-in is between 60 + 30 minutes before the ferry leaves (for a 9 AM departure that would have been between 8 – 8:30). IOW, a couple of minutes before 8, she probably should have been on her way (no mention of this side of the phone conversation with the guide, but also no way for us to know how far from the dock she was staying). I’m not sure she wasn’t using the discrepancy between the verbal instructions of the reservationist and the written confirmation to get out of going on the trip. So, I voted “no” about the tour being refunded. The Condor I suspect this is the nature of the misunderstanding: The Channel Islands Ferry leaves at 8AM, and arrives at 9AM — so the kayak tour starts at 9AM. It is possible that the people on the phone are saying the kayaking begins at 9AM. Additionally, if one looks at Island Packers schedules (they are the concessionaire who runs the ferries to the Channel Islands) they will list 8AM and 9AM departures, so that can add to the confusion. I’ve taken a few trips out to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands; they really are amazing places. Raven If the tour operator isn’t sure what she told the guest, a refund is in order. Most people will believe what they are told rather than what appears on a written confirmation. After all, don’t we always tend to turn to the human element rather than a slip of paper? Normally, I’d say tough crap for the guest, but if the tour operator isn’t sure what she said…well, then she needs to step up in the efforts of good business. Me Have you seen the confirmation? Considering the typo in her email, why assume she got the confirmation right? Chris in NC @ Cohen, Offer the woman who “missed” her tour a voucher for a future trip (make sure it expires within a set time or else you risk being written up again in the future). Other, than reminding all customers to CAREFULLY check their written confirmations, what else can you do? I assist with a local adventure company, and my personal experience is that many people don’t read. If your written confirmation states the tour starts at 9AM and the ferry check in is a 7AM, and your refund policy was disclosed, then you’ve done enough. Grey83 I like the idea that one poster had, to make it part of the process to require the customer to have to agree to the interary sending an an email back before finalizing the reservation. This will eliminate any possible confusion and put the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the customer. Chris in NC Exactly…. Isn’t the golden rule “Get it in writing?” If there is a discrepancy between what was supposedly said and what the written confirmation said, I would be calling first thing. RazzleD Confusing instructions to me. The tour is at 9:00 on the island but there is a ferry departure at 9:00 from the mainland? In the future, change the tour time or have a meeting place on the mainland. Chicky I guess I’m just a cynic. That’s what 19 years with a newspaper will do for you. I’d be willing to bet the guest overslept or something similar and when called, figured she could do a little tap dance about what was said over the phone. I say this because it has happened when people have called me to make a child’s birthday photo appointment. We do these at 1 p.m., by appointment, every day. A woman came in with her child about 3:45 p.m. and vowed and declared that’s when I told her to come in, which, of course, is hogwash. She just couldn’t get to the 1 p.m. appointment, for whatever reason. We happened to have a photographer available, so we were able to take the photo, but I certainly didn’t tell the woman she could come in at any other time. In the interests of good customer service, I’d say rebook the tour, but I don’t think this was the fault of the tour operator, at all. http://twitter.com/travelingiraffe Crissy I say allow a credit for the tour, but not for the ferry. After a friend had a TA book the incorrect night for her at a hotel after a tour, I learned you NEED to always check your details, mistakes can happen and the paper is the proof of the details. DavidS “Cohen says this isn’t the first time she’s had the problem, and is trying to come up with a “reasonable” policy for the future.” My first thought was to tell the client, you got the confirmation in writing, deal with it…but that statement led me to believe there is a bigger underlying problem with the business’ procedures. The OP even admits she may have told her the incorrect time. Shame on the customer for not questioning the times, but I would suggest refunding the client. It sounds like a better procedure needs to be in place to prevent this from continuing to happen. Once the procedure is in place you can better enforce the “no refund” policy. She may have the right to withhold a refund, but it may not always be the right thing to do. Rosered7033 Is a “rebook” a “refund”? I’d say no to that, and the operator should offer to rebook. The operator definitely needs to have some way to double check the reservations (as shown by her admission that this has happened before), perhaps by calling the day before to verify. Heck, even my dentist’s office calls me the day before. Yes, the onus is on the customer to double check times on the paper confirmation – isn’t that why it’s sent? – but in the interest of a good customer experience, the operator should probably step up to the plate. Grey83 Your dentist office calls you because they haven’t gotten any money from you and if you don’t show they are out out their fees. If you paid in advance I guarantee they would not call. Rosered7033 Actually, my dentist’s office has a policy of charging whether you are there for your appointment or not, unless you have cancelled well in advance. Tony A. From what I can gather, the customer BOOKED OVER THE PHONE and not online (although I admit i don’t know all the facts). So unless someone told her over the phone that she will receive a confirmation through email and she needs to check it since that TRUMPS THE VERBAL Agreement, then how is the customer expected to know this? There is a very big difference between buying over the phone and online. The vendor can WRITE a lot of T&Cs online (as this one did or does on their website). But you cannot expect everyone who calls to order tickets over the phone to have read your T&Cs online. So you have to make it clear to them over the phone what those T&Cs are. LeeAnneClark Chris, please delete the spammers. Tony A. I agree. Consider and airline reservation. You get a WRITTEN itinerary when you book your trip. But when changes happen, the airline (or agent) may simply CALL you and tell you about the changes. If you don’t agree they MIGHT offer you a refund. The bottom line is a CALL is a 2-way conversation between the BUYER and SELLER; and therefore some agreement may take place. A confirmation letter merely CONFIRMS what was previously agreed upon. Just because the confirmation letter incorrectly notes what has been agreed upon does not make the original agreement (be it verbal) null and void. Otherwise, confirmation letters will be a sophisticated bait and switch strategy. Michelle B. Since this seems to be recurring issue, it seems like a change to the business process is in order. On the day prior to the trip, I think the tour operator should CALL each person and state what time the ferry leaves and when they need to be there. Robiens As a customer, you are responsible to check your email confirmation and if there is any mistakes do make call to tour operator as soon as possible. As for the tour operator, it is always good to offer quick solution at the very moment. maybe rebooking or offer anything else that may ease the problem. Jacqueline If she’s not sure if she misspoke on the telephone, then I say maybe they could split the cost. I don’t think the customer is entitled to a full refund. I always read any confirmations to avoid problems like this. Monica I disagree as well. I written contract (itinerary in this case) is more binding than word of mouth. The customer should have absolutely read and confirmed her written itinerary. Tony A. It depends. If the itinerary was sent for the customer to agree on, then YES, the customer and the seller agreed on the itinerary. If the customer and seller simply talked on the phone, and the seller got the customer’s ORDER and PAYMENT over the phone, then WHAT WAS AGREED UPON OVER THE PHONE is the contract. If the vendor sends something afterwards conflicting with what was agreed upon during the phone order, then THAT CANNOT UNILATERALLY change what has been agreed upon over the phone. This is the reason why it is so difficult to sell tickets over the phone. You must make it clear to the caller that you are merely taking her/his information and creating some sort of a pro-forma invoice which you will email to him/her to check and agree with (sign to be sure). [At a minimum you can RECORD the agreement on tape if you don’t want to send a written agreement.] If you are a vendor and you make a lot of CARD NOT PRESENT charges without a signed customer order (that discloses a lot on information), then it is difficult to win a dispute (chargeback) because you have to prove exactly what the customer authorized. You need a signed agreement to prove that. Tony A. Exactly. Why are people assuming that the customer RECEIVED a confirmation? Just because the vendor said they sent a confirmation BY EMAIL does not mean the recipient RECEIVED it. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott OK, I just posted the update on this case, as promised. http://twitter.com/LizzyDragon84 Elizabeth I like this idea. That would simplify things if customers are looking at just one time instead of two (one for the ferry and one for the tour). Grant Hi Chris, I don’t understand the ‘Reactions’ section at the bottom of this page. I clicked on several of the pictures and this same page reopened. So, I tried clicking on the word ‘Twitter’ below the pictures and was taken to Twitter.com where I didn’t get anything but the same couple of sentences that are printed in ‘Reactions’. I don’t ‘Tweet’, but it appears I have to sign up for a Twitter account in order to be able to read what these folks have to say. Is that really necessary? Can’t their comments just be printed out in the ‘Reactions’ section, so I don’t have to log onto a separate site. Thanks, Grant http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott The reactions are supposed to be Tweets and RTs from Twitter, but they’re a little buggy. I’m sure Disqus is working on a fix. Ames After reading the update and re-reading the post, the tour operator was more than fair – the guest was wrong! The guest not only read the information but made the decision not to attend. I wonder if the guest would have asked for a refund if the guide had not extended the courtesy of calling? No refund was due! If this was the third time a guest had made the same mistake out of “hundreds” who call each week, I would say the fault lies with the guests not with the tour or the confirmation. There is always a small percentage of people who will get it wrong no matter what one does. http://twitter.com/PeterHarders Peter Harders Borrowing an idea from the airline industry, Santa Barbara Adventure Company should capture e-mail addresses at the time of sale. The company should then send “departure reminder” e-mails to their confirmed guests. Not only could this be helpful to the consumer (especially if the e-mail contains highly useful information regarding what to bring as the mindset has shifted from booking to packing in theory) but provides recourse for the agency when consumers will undoubted in the future claim “I was told…” or “I thought…”. Additionally, offering travel insurance at the time of sale is another component when you encounter the one-off “but my cancellation is an exception…”. Travel insurance provides recourse when you enforce the stated cancellation policy. Rosered7033 WHAT?? The customer, instead of going to the dock earlier, as the paperwork stated, chose to not come?? I think the TO was more than fair with her refund; I think the customer took advantage of her. I’m recommending the TO keep this name on file, and, if the name comes up in future reservations, think about whether she really wants her for a customer. Sometimes when you bend over backward for a customer, you get your back broken. RazzleD Yes, I managed an airline call center. The 2-way voice confirmation trumps the electronic confirmation unless you get an electronic signature that it was received. Katie She should update her policy to require that guests verify that they have received the confirmation and will be there at whatever time. If they verify, then they assume responsibility for knowing what time they’re supposed to be there and all associated policies and information. If they don’t verify, then they don’t have a reservation. And yes, perhaps there can also be an option for a guest who missed the departure time to rebook for a later date–but no refund, IF they confirmed their reservation. Dorothy I voted no, but possibly a god solution would be for the tour operator and the guest to split the cost depending on the circumstances. It is very unfair to the tour operator to pick up the tab as I believe that the customer had a responsibility to read her confirmation. After reading the solution I think this guest is a thief. DavidS Really? So if I miss an 8AM flight, but show my printed itinerary and tell the agent that when I spoke on the phone and made the reservation, I had asked for the 9AM…they would confirm me on the 9AM…even if the flight was oversold? RazzleD No, because the Customer is Not always right. Take the call, put it in remarks and send the e-mail. If there is a last minute change, call the Customer for a voice confirmation. A one-way e-mail only does not stand up to much. If a discrepency; we would look at the operators remarks first. You don’t need a printed itinerary to check-in your ticketless flight. RazzleD We used to sell Cozumel snorkel tours from the Riviera Maya. The tour officially started at the ferry in Play del Carmen, not the snorkel site…one arrival time, even though the guides met the guests on the Cozumel side of the ferry. Tony A. *** ADVICE TO SUZZANE COHEN *** First of all I’d like to say I love your website and I am going to take my whole family to the Channel Islands. Thank You! Now here is my advice… My company sells airline tickets (and other related services) over the phone. Most of time the callers even speak another language (English is their second language). In order to make sure we completely understood the customer, we create a PROVISIONAL Itinerary and price it (a quote) and email it to the customer ASAP. Then we call back the customer and verbally describe and go through the itinerary step by step. If there are changes we do it. If the customer says everything is correct, we send them a credit card authorization form that has the general details of the itinerary. The customer fills up and signs the form and faxes (or scan and email) it back to us. Then only do we proceed to ticket. The process could be shortened if the customer booked online since all the T&Cs would be printed out before they press BOOK. But my customers do not want to buy online. They want to talk to a live person. A lot of times there are verbal misunderstanding between the customer and our agents. This is natural since many customers actually forget that they just said or they do not listen intently to the agent (they want to hear what they think they want). This is the reason why create a PROVISIONAL itinerary and try to perfect it before we make a sale. We want to keep the customer happy so s/he keeps on coming back to us. Hope this helps…tony flutiefan grant, everything you see below IS the entirely of their tweeted reactions. nothing more. it’s pretty much just a list of people who have tweeted Chris’s link/story. that’s all. RazzleD However, this was before smart phones…most business and leisure travelers did not have constant e-mail access let alone a printer. I assume the kayak Customer is on vacation with a packed itinerary. They aren’t coming directly from their home office. Z44212 My advice is to refund the tour costs until you implement an itinerary confirmation process. Customers are not obliged to read their receipts. Verbal agreements are subject to misunderstanding. A feedback loop would mitigate this type of issue. Raven Advice on how to deter this behavior: Send an email confirmation with “NO REFUNDS OR REBOOKINGS FOR ANY REASON” in giant bold print. Also, coach those who answer the phone to say “Our tours are non-refundable.” Grant Ohhhh… Thanks ff. :-) (Aside to Chris… Why even bother to post these ‘reactions’?! If somebody has a comment to make, I’m interested, but if they’re just tweeting or retweeting your story or a link to it, who cares?) http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott It’s just an optional feature to show other social media reactions to the post. Anna I followed the link to Cohen’s site and found the info on her Channel Island kayaking tours. Here’s what it says for the sea cave tour: “Starting point and time: Ventura Harbor, 8am-5pm. Actual start times may vary.” So, the tour starts at 8 am…. unless it doesn’t? I would specify the start times already at this point. Unless the ferry schedule is completely random, it could be specified as “Mon-Thu; 8 am – Fri-Sun; 7 am” or whatever it is. The site also recommends booking via phone rather than online so I’d give the phone people a memo about always repeating the starting time when clients require about trips on various dates. Also ask the clients to confirm if they want this trip on that date at XX am. Sdir The tour operator refunded the trip in good faith, but that doesn’t mean she said 9am was the start time. I too work with customers over the phone and it’s very common to have someone misunderstand a key detail, even after you’ve repeated it five times. The tour operator needs to either record the reservations or get a customer to sign off on the confirmation. Not doing so will usually put the responsibility back onto the company for the sake of customer service. The tour operator will have to decide if eating the cost of a few tours is less expensive than the hassle of getting customer signature each time. Tony A. Fishplate, In the end of the day, the real problem is will the vendor win a chargeback from the credit card company if the customer disputes the charge. Your sending a confirmation letter to the customer will not be accepted as proof that the customer agrees to charge her credit card. This is the reason why you need to record the verbal agreement to charge her card. You need some proof the the customer AUTHORIZED the sale. LePin Over the long run, refunding is better public policy than refusing. Of course she should not refund to somebody who is nasty or threatening, and of course she is within her rights not to refund. Jason Hanna Cat’s outta the bag. The world, or at least the readers of this site, know to just call up and say “But you said 9am” now. The part where they’re not sure, MAYBE they could have given the wrong info.. Seems to say to me that they’re not really paying attention when giving out the info. That’s a tad concerning.. 5 extra seconds at the end of a phone call, reset, review the info, make sure what you’re giving out is right, because it is important that you get it right. A confirmation email, I think, is really the best thing. You’re following up with a customer, which gives them a warm and fuzzy, and as is said over and over here.. An email gives you a paper trail. No vote from me.. I think it’s split.. 50/50.. If the agent hadn’t given that ‘maybe’.. I’d side with them. Pending on how long ago the reservation was made.. I mean, that plays into it, too.. If it was the day before.. I lean more towards the customer’s side.. If this was booked 3 months in advance.. I’m leaning more to the agent/reservationists side. djp There is quite a bit more to this that we do not know…. I was at Santa Barbara in May and their tour booking is seriously lacking and very confusing. My tour was different ( a whale watching tour) I did look at these tours. I found one web site said one thing and another said another. I noticed in calling three different tour companies about tours I got the same person answering. I called another time and got conflicting info from a different person. First person said the boat was a private charter and unavailable while the second person told me that there was a special tour conducted by the ACS (American Whale Society) that was open to the public. Brooklyn Here’s another possible approach: if this has happened a number of times, the OP might consider whether a 9 a.m. ferry departure (assuming there is one) would better meet her customers’ needs. Sadie Cee I voted “NO.” As I understand it, the guest looked at the time and decided not to go on the trip. I am amazed that the guest requested a refund. The request should have been denied. The service was offered and paid for and it was the guest who decided not to avail herself of the service. The TO had no obligation to make any sort of refund. However, I can understand the TO deciding to do so in the interests of good customer service. As others have recommended, the TO should revise their practices in making reservations to make it clearly understood that tickets purchased are non-refundable. Sadie Cee A departure time of 9:00 a.m. is quite reasonable, except that to make this departure time, the guest had to be at the dock much earlier – between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. for check-in. Anna Interesting. This intel – plus the OP admitting she may have given the client the wrong start time – makes the OP business sound a bit amateurish. Gimpy Why would anyone on the phone tell a customer anything other than “the arrival and tour details are on your confirmation.” We do this all the time – when a customer asks us for immediate details we say the events are different and I wouldn’t want to give them bad info. it’s not difficult. Then no refunds. I wouldn’t have refunded her in any case. She’s not coming back and if you’re filling tours why bother? Dorothy amen Patrick Try this “she said…..” with any airline, train or bus and see where you get. If this is a continued problem then a positive confirmation from the customer that the reservation information has been read and agreed to needs to be done. doctork 3 refunds out of so many riders? If she stands up one of the three and said person starts complaining, her dissatisfaction will leak out and this can cost more riders. She doesn’t have to but as a savvy businessperson who wants her program to keep growing, the refund is wise. If 300 asked for refunds that would be a different story Crissy After reading the update I can see why travel companies don’t want to help with ‘honest” mistakes.