After a near-death experience, should Viking refund his cruise?

By | March 23rd, 2016

Last summer, while Joan Rohrer was visiting her daughter in Albany, Ore., her husband fell on the curb and struck his forehead.

“He suffered a concussion, and subsequently had two brain bleed surgeries,” says Rohrer. “We almost lost him three times.”

The Rohrers had planned a 60th anniversary river cruise on Viking. Unfortunately, the Rohrers didn’t have insurance.

“We were charged a 35 percent cancellation fee because we did not submit our refund request in the required time due to the very serious accident and brain surgeries my husband had,” she says. “Seven months later, he is still in rehabilitation and probably will never travel again, especially not on an airplane out of the country.”

Rohrers thinks it’s unfair that Viking should keep the couple’s 35 percent. They’ve contacted us numerous times to see if we can help them recover their money.

“We could definitely use the almost $3,000,” she says. “I am leaving this in your capable hands.”

I agree with her. It’s not right for a company to keep your money after this kind of tragic event.

Viking Cruise’s terms and conditions are crystal clear about what she’s entitled to: 35 percent.

Cancellation received
Following charges will apply: (Broken out by days before departure)
121 days or more is $100 per person
120-90 days is 15% of full fare
89-60 days is 35% of full fare
59-30 days is 50% of full fare
29-0 days is 100% of full fare
Full Fare is defined as the full cost of any cruise, land or air component purchased from Viking.

Of course, Viking will throw the contract in her face when she asks for a full refund. After all, didn’t she agree to the terms? Didn’t she have the option of purchasing insurance?

Well, yes — and no.

She agreed to the terms because she had no choice. In legal terms, that’s referred to an adhesion contract. You can’t negotiate it. It applies to you but not necessarily to the company. And yes, it can be profoundly unfair.

The worst part about it? Rohrer probably didn’t even know what she was agreeing to when she signed up for the cruise. Like so many other passengers, she assumed the company would just do the right thing if disaster struck. That would have been an incorrect assumption.

But what about insurance? It’s expensive, and the Rohrers purchased the trip through Costco, which may or may not have advised them of the importance of insurance. And even if they’d bought it, who’s to say some guy in the claims department wouldn’t find a “pre-existing” medical condition that caused Rohrer to trip, allowing the company to deny the claim?

I hate the way the deck is stacked against consumers. I mean, here’s a devoted wife trying to care for a husband who will never travel again, and certainly will never leave the country, and she’s just trying to pay some medical bills. The deck was stacked against the Rohrers from the beginning.

That’s not right.

Now, some of you are thinking: She didn’t read the fine print; she should have bought the insurance. But come on. The Rohrers acted in good faith and they expected Viking to act in good faith. Why didn’t it?

I can guess what Viking will tell me when I ask about this case. They’ll say Rohrer got what she deserved. Maybe she did.

I’m not asking her to get what she deserves. I’m asking Viking to do the right thing. Is that asking too much?

Should I take Joan Rohrer's case?

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