Question: I think I’m entitled to a refund from a company called Your Travel Headquarters, and I need your help. My girlfriend and I recently got a call from the company, saying that we had won a free cruise and that we needed to call them back that day to redeem it.
We did, and asked all the pertinent info about the trip, and how much it would cost and if there were any other fees and expenses. A representative explained that it was a “free” promotional trip and that the only thing we had to pay was a departure fee of $190 and any expenses that we might incur getting to the cruise ship’s port of departure in Miami.
I asked specifically, “Is that all?” He replied, “Yes, those are the only expenses and no other charges would be applied.” According to him, we had 18 months to use the trip, and we needed to pay the $190 immediately or we would forfeit our prize.
Last month, we decided to book a date, only to later find out that it would cost another $550. I told the representative that I wanted to cancel, and be issued a refund since we were misled. He flat-out refused, saying, “We have a no-refunds policy.” What should I do? — Michael Mihalik, Harrison, N.J.
Answer: I think you’re entitled to a refund, too. I can’t remember an unsolicited offer for a “free” promotional cruise that didn’t include some kind of gotcha clause in it. Yes, the cruise is free but getting there will cost you. Or we have to “hold” the cruise with a nonrefundable deposit (hey, if it’s free, why do you need to pay to confirm it?).