Refund from Travel Organizer

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Jun 22, 2020
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I booked a trip with a Meetup Group called Budget Travel. The organizer is not a travel agent but an organizer of the group who handled all the tours, flights, hotels and all other travel arrangements.
I paid the organizer the amount of $2,200.
After the Pandemic hit, the trip was cancelled. Norwegian also cancelled all flights.

I have asked the organizer several times for a refund but have not received anything.

I alos purchased travel insurance through Travel Insured Internation and sent them two itemized letters by certified mail. I have not heard from them either. At a loss of how to preceed
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Has the organizer responded to you about their role in requesting refunds on your behalf?
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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I booked a trip with a Meetup Group called Budget Travel. The organizer is not a travel agent but an organizer of the group who handled all the tours, flights, hotels and all other travel arrangements.
I paid the organizer the amount of $2,200.
After the Pandemic hit, the trip was cancelled. Norwegian also cancelled all flights.

I have asked the organizer several times for a refund but have not received anything.

I alos purchased travel insurance through Travel Insured Internation and sent them two itemized letters by certified mail. I have not heard from them either. At a loss of how to preceed
Without information about your itinerary and travel dates it is not possible to give you any useful advice. Where are you located, where/when were you traveling, where is Meetup Group called Budget Travel located?
 
Jun 22, 2020
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Has the organizer responded to you about their role in requesting refunds on your behalf?
She is stating that since she charged everything for 15 people on her credit card, she needs to wait until she in reimbursed by the tours, all plane fare, etc. She booked the Norwegian plane fare through "Fly Far" which I looked up. They have a terrible rating.

I am disappointed with Travel Insured International at this point too. I have given them all the information I could and also gave them the phone number, email address and physical address of the organizer. I sent both letters to them signature required and priority mail. Never heard from them
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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How did you pay her? With a check?

I am seeing red flags all over this. She isn’t a travel agent but people paid a stranger to book a trip for them? How well do you know this woman?

As far as your travel insurance, unless you had a cancel for any reason insurance policy, this pandemic is not covered.

You may have to sue this woman in Small Claims Court unless you paid by credit card.
 
Jun 22, 2020
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Believe me, I feel like a total idiot. :( Julie Bishop with Budget Travel, has taken and organized quite a few trips with groups and there has never seemed to be a problem until now. This is a terrible learning lesson for me.
,
As far as Travel Insured International; I sent them a medical document from my doctor as well as proof of payment. I also sent them Norwegian Airlines information saying they cancelled the flight, not me.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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You had a medical condition that wasn’t Covid related to cancel the trip? Or is it you have a medical condition that was a high risk for Covid? If the latter, that isn’t covered by insurance. It’s considered fear of travel and not covered.

If you developed Covid and couldn't travel or broke your leg and couldn’t travel, or developed a serious health condition - those are covered.

Norwegian Air has to refund whoever paid them. So you have no insurance claim because you won’t be refunded unless you paid with a credit card.

Again- how did you pay?
 
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Neil Maley

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Not necessarily. If she took money from you to book a trip, you might be able to report her to the State of Florida because she doesn't have a seller of travel license. She might have been receiving a commission or fee from the travel provider she booked with - or a free room, or free travel for bringing all of you with her. I see she does group cruises and I am betting she is going free if she booked at least 8 cabins. (I am glad you named her so I could go to MeetUp and find her and as soon as I saw she was in Florida.......)

From the Seller of Travel Laws:


What is a seller of travel?
A seller of travel is any resident or nonresident person, firm, corporation or business entity that offers for sale, directly or indirectly, at wholesale or retail, prearranged travel or tourist-related services for individuals or groups, through vacation or tour packages, or through vacation certificates in exchange for a fee, commission or other valuable consideration. The term includes any business entity offering membership in a travel club or travel service for an advance fee or payment, even if no travel contracts or certificates or vacation or tour packages are sold by the business entity.

Who is required to register?

Any seller of travel that has a business location in Florida or that offers to sell travel-related services in Florida for individuals or groups.

There can be a $5,000 fine for every violation.

If it were me - I would be going back to Julie, tell her she is acting as a travel agency by accepting money from individuals, she is required to have a Seller of Travel certificate in Florida and if she doesn't refund you now, you will report her to the State.
 

Neil Maley

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Well you have an option to report her to the state. Or to sue her. The State might stop her from doing this to anyone else. Anyone "selling" travel should be insured and has to be bonded in Florida to that their "customers" can get refunds if they take off with their money. Please keep in touch and let us know how this ends.
 
Sep 18, 2018
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Well you have an option to report her to the state. Or to sue her. The State might stop her from doing this to anyone else. Anyone "selling" travel should be insured and has to be bonded in Florida to that their "customers" can get refunds if they take off with their money. Please keep in touch and let us know how this ends.
It looks as if the "organizer" also was using the group purchase to benefit from points or other rewards by using her own credit card. There's also no way to know whether her travel costs were spread out among the other members of the group.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Believe me, I feel like a total idiot. :( Julie Bishop with Budget Travel, has taken and organized quite a few trips with groups and there has never seemed to be a problem until now. This is a terrible learning lesson for me.
,
As far as Travel Insured International; I sent them a medical document from my doctor as well as proof of payment. I also sent them Norwegian Airlines information saying they cancelled the flight, not me.
Is this the site where you booked:
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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3,583
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Maui Hawaii
I am disappointed with Travel Insured International at this point too. I have given them all the information I could and also gave them the phone number, email address and physical address of the organizer. I sent both letters to them signature required and priority mail. Never heard from them
Travel Insured International is likely not replying to you quickly because a) they are overwhelmed with claims, and b) you likely do not have a valid claim. Regular travel insurance is not covering pandemic related cancelations. You may eventually receive a form letter saying your claim is not covered.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Is this the site where you booked:
No - this is her:
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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It looks as if the "organizer" also was using the group purchase to benefit from points or other rewards by using her own credit card. There's also no way to know whether her travel costs were spread out among the other members of the group.
Of course she is. I want to see how she is going to give that money back to everyone when and if she gets anything back. She might be dealing with small businesses that aren't going to refund or can't refund.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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No - this is her:
So we have an "organizer" who is not a travel agent and is not licensed in FL, FlyFar a Canadian flight booking agent, and Norwegian Air which was in serious financial shape pre-Covid-19, and an unknown itinerary of tours, flights, hotels, and all other travel arrangements.

I think the OP will need to see if Julie gets any money back and can refund anything. Otherwise small claims court will be needed. But if the OP goes the small claims route too soon "Julie" will probably stop dealing with the OP. And reporting Julie to the FL authorities will not lead to any resolution of refunds.
 
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Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
So we have an "organizer" who is not a travel agent and is not licensed in FL, FlyFar a Canadain flight booking agent, and Norwegian Air which was in serious financial shape pre-Covid-19, and an unknown itinerary of tours, flights, hotels, and all other travel arrangements.

I think the OP will need to see if Julie gets any money back and can refund anything. Otherwise small claims court will be needed. But if the OP goes the small claims route too soon "Julie" will probably stop dealing with the OP. And reporting Julie to the FL authorities will not lead to any resolution of refunds.
But the state of Florida can ensure Judy stops these travel bookings and no one else loses money. Booking a local kayak tour is one thing- booking a $2200 trip without using your own credit card is another.

I do agree the OP should wait a bit- she has nothing else to lose. But it is responsible when this is over to ensure Julie stops this practice. And I hope that others in the MeetUp group make the other 1800 members aware where shouldn’t be doing what she is doing.
 
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