America by Rail questions

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Jun 4, 2020
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In January 2020 I purchased an America by Rail tour to Yellowstone and Mt. Rushmore to start in mid May 2020, and paid in full (approximately $4,000). I made my rail reservations directly with Amtrak and paid the rail portion myself separately because I wanted to make sure I received Amtrak Guest Rewards points for the rail portion.

In mid April, I received a phone call from America by Rail informing me that they had canceled the tour and asked whether I would like a full refund to my credit card (to be received between 30-60 days) or would I like a credit for a future trip with a $200 discount. I chose full refund to my credit card and am still waiting. However, in late May, I received what appeared to be a form letter from America by Rail with language indicating that I may not receive a full refund, putting blame on third parties. Upon receipt of the letter, I phoned America by Rail and received an outgoing message stating that they were not in the office and that someone would return the call within 72 hours. After not hearing from them for 72 hours, on May 29, 2020, I sent a long email to America by Rail.

To date, I have not received a return phone call, a response to my email or refund. Next week will be 60 days from the day I received the phone call promising a full refund within 30-60 days. It should be noted that I canceled the rail portion of my trip directly with Amtrak and immediately received a full refund.

I am not sure what to do next other than be patient.
Has anyone had a similar experience? If so, was it resolved and how so?
Any suggestions for my next step?
Should I be concerned that America by Rail will go out of business?

Thank you.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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First off, never write a 'long' email to a company. That is pure torture for the poor person who has to trudge through it. When writing to companies, always be brief, polite and professional sticking to facts only.

Do you have the offer for full refund in writing? If so, you may want to start with writing to the execs of Amtrak, one at a time waiting two weeks for a reply before moving on to the next name on the list. You can find their contact info at the top of the forum in the Company Contacts link.

You can also consider a charge back with your credit card but we suggest waiting until you have exhausted all other avenues before proceeding on that route. These are tough times, Amtrak is not profitable in normal times so when their vendors do not provide them a refund, they have limited cash to provide their customers a refund. What is the amount you are hoping to have refunded?
 
Jun 4, 2020
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Thank you for your response. My email was professional and factual. It needed to be rather long to enclose the facts.

No, I did not have the offer from America by Rail in writing. It was made over the phone.

My concern is my refund from America by Rail (which is a tour company). I made my rail reservations directly with Amtrak and they immediately refunded the entire amount.

The amount I paid to America by Rail was $3,995.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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I would send a second email--much shorter, asking if they received the first email. Put a delivery receipt and a read receipt on the outgoing email. Just a friendly little message--Hey, Hope everyone is healthy--just checking to make sure you saw my previous email of XX date requesting a full refund of my canceled tour. Please let me know if you need further details, sincerely, PennyK

Your 60 day deadline isn't until next week, so they technically are not late with the refund. A lot of companies are scrambling to find the monies to refund hundreds of customers all of a sudden.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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When you paid for this trip, was there any travel insurance available? Does your credit card have any built-in perks? Anytime you prepay a large sum for travel, it's always good to have some coverage in case of disaster. I know exactly how you feel about your money kept at a company you know nothing about. Everybody's running out of money for refunds. Unfortunately, it's a scenario that thousands of travellers re facing right now.
 
Jun 4, 2020
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When you paid for this trip, was there any travel insurance available? Does your credit card have any built-in perks? Anytime you prepay a large sum for travel, it's always good to have some coverage in case of disaster. I know exactly how you feel about your money kept at a company you know nothing about. Everybody's running out of money for refunds. Unfortunately, it's a scenario that thousands of travellers re facing right now.
Yes, I purchased travel insurance but it will not cover this situation. My credit card does not have travel insurance but I believe I have the option to dispute the charge once I am sure I will not be receiving the refund. I have communicated with both the claims department of the travel insurance company and my credit card company.
 
Jun 4, 2020
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What were the terms and conditions from the company? Was there a force majeure clause?
I believe the applicable clause is:
"America by Rail shall not be or become liable or responsible in any way whatsoever, for any loss, injury or damage from acts of God, sickness, theft, weather, strikes, war, or quarantine however caused or arising."

I was hoping that America by Rail would honor their oral promise to fully refund my payment, which promise was made over the telephone at the time I was informed that America by Rail canceled the tour.
 
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Jun 4, 2020
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By way of an update, I have received no responses to my 2 telephone messages, 2 emails and one postal mail letter to America by Rail. Yesterday was the 60th day after the phone call I received from America by Rail informing me that they had canceled my tour and in which the representative promised a refund to my credit card within 30 to 60 days. Today, I filed a dispute of the charges with my credit card company. I believe it is in their hands now.

Thank all of you who responded to me with suggestions. I appreciate your time.
 
Jun 4, 2020
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Apparently, the credit card company did not need a lot of time to investigate my situation. The original charge has been reversed and my account was credited with $3,995.00.

This is the first time I have disputed a charge and do not know what will happen if America by Rail declares bankruptcy and is unable to reimburse the credit card company. Will the credit card company reverse my credit or will they be the party to suffer the loss?
 

Dwayne Coward

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Apr 13, 2016
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Apparently, the credit card company did not need a lot of time to investigate my situation. The original charge has been reversed and my account was credited with $3,995.00.

This is the first time I have disputed a charge and do not know what will happen if America by Rail declares bankruptcy and is unable to reimburse the credit card company. Will the credit card company reverse my credit or will they be the party to suffer the loss?
Penny, that will probably only be a temporary credit that the credit card company provides while the dispute process is ongoing. If they find in your favor, it will be made permanent, if they don't the charge will be reapplied to your account.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Apparently, the credit card company did not need a lot of time to investigate my situation. The original charge has been reversed and my account was credited with $3,995.00.

This is the first time I have disputed a charge and do not know what will happen if America by Rail declares bankruptcy and is unable to reimburse the credit card company. Will the credit card company reverse my credit or will they be the party to suffer the loss?
This is likely a provisional credit while the credit card company asks America by Rail for its view.
 
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Jun 4, 2020
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I have checked the status of the dispute when checking my credit card account on line. The status is shown as "closed," with this explanation "As a result of our investigation, we have credited your account. This adjustment can be found on an upcoming statement. "

If this credit is temporary, will they reopen the dispute or does it appear that the credit is permanent? Based on the notation that the dispute is closed, it appears to me that the credit card company has already completed its investigation. However, that does not make sense to me since I only filed this dispute a few days ago. Is it possible that the credit card company contacted America by Rail immediately or that they have had situations similar to mine?
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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If they find in the suppliers favor, they will recharge the card. The company has I believe 30 days to reply and then the cc company determines who wins. They have 45 days to make a decision. It dies sound like if they closed it you might have won but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it for 45 days.
 
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May 30, 2019
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I have checked the status of the dispute when checking my credit card account on line. The status is shown as "closed," with this explanation "As a result of our investigation, we have credited your account. This adjustment can be found on an upcoming statement. "

If this credit is temporary, will they reopen the dispute or does it appear that the credit is permanent? Based on the notation that the dispute is closed, it appears to me that the credit card company has already completed its investigation. However, that does not make sense to me since I only filed this dispute a few days ago. Is it possible that the credit card company contacted America by Rail immediately or that they have had situations similar to mine?
You should get a final determination in writing (or email) from your credit card company. Then it's real.
 
Jun 4, 2020
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If they find in the suppliers favor, they will recharge the card. The company has I believe 30 days to reply and then the cc company determines who wins. They have 45 days to make a decision. It dies sound like if they closed it you might have won but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it for 45 days.
Thank you and others for provided me information as to how disputes are handled by credit card companies. I appreciate all the feedback since I am new to this, and my credit card company did not initially provide me with details as to how things will work. I am much more knowledgeable than I was previously (even before receiving a letter from the credit card company today). Thanks again.

In part, the letter states, "We're writing to let you know that, as a result of our investigation, we've credited your account for $3995.00, which will appear on your next statement. It's important to know that we may accept the response from AMERICA BY RAIL at a later and review the information they provide. In these situations, we may rebill your account. If that happens, we'll be sure to let you know immediately. If you don't hear from us by August 21, 2020, then you may consider this matter closed."