Tulip Time river cruise nightmare

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May 12, 2020
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Dear Travel Troubleshooter :

In March , my husband and I were scheduled to go on an AMAWaterways , Serena Tulip Time River cruise to Holland and Belgium , which we booked through Durgan Travel Service, 125 Main St. , Stoneham, Ma.02180.This was to be a group tour , leaving on 3/19/2020 , returning on 3/28/2020. We booked it a year in advance and a deposit of $1800 was made by credit card March 19th , 2019, and Tripmate travel insurance purchased ,in the amount of $658.00 I have all of the receipts .The remainder of the trip was paid by personal check in November 2019 , with a total cost of $8,138.00. As detailed below, I filed a claim for reimbursement of the trip cost with TripMate Insurance as a result of my husband’s newly diagnosed health condition,which precluded him from traveling. Currently , TripMate has approved this claim , but has not issued any reimbursement,claiming they need to know what , if any, refund will be given by Durgan Travel ,as a result of the subsequent cancellation of the trip due to Covid19 .Durgan Travel has not responded to the insurer’s request for this information ,and in fact has requested that I contact the travel supplier. This letter is a request for some assistance with obtaining this refund.

We had traveled with this Durgan to Europe several times in the past , but I was unaware that the agency had been sold and was now owned by Annette Kent. There were notable changes to their business practices to include a lack of confirmation of receipt of payment and a failure to provide receipts without a personal request . The only way I received information was to call them . I saved all of the emails sent to Matt Lordan ,the general manager of Durgan travel , and will upload them to the Elliott.org forum .

At the beginning of March, my husband who is eighty -one and myself , aged seventy-five became concerned about the evolving situation regarding Covid 19 and the subsequent possible health risks related to travel .My husband was diagnosed with hypertension in February , 2020 . In early March he had begun treatment but was in the process of getting a cardiac work up and trying different medications.

At this point, I was contacting Durgan travel to determine if the trip was going to be cancelled. During one of many phone calls and emails, I was told by Matt Lordan that the cruise was in fact still scheduled and I would forfeit the entire payment if I cancelled during this “ non-cancellation” period, per the contract. I then contacted AMA Waterways, the cruise company , as the news got worse about the pandemic and spoke to Gwen in group sales . She informed me that I could purchase a “Cancel for any Reason” waiver for $350, which I did. It had to be done through Durgan , who was unaware of this option. I was told they would refund us through this waiver what Durgan paid , which was about half of the cost of the trip. On March 11th I received an email from Durgan Travel confirming that they had received confirmation of the cancellation waiver we purchased , but also stating that the trip was still scheduled for a March 19th departure. I was refunded $350.00 by the cruise line April 6th for the waiver insurance because the trip was cancelled

Durgan Travel provided notice of cancellation on 3/13/20 , six days before departure . Every time I called them I was told a different story , and they closed their office on 3/24/20 under the Stay at Home order of the Governor of Massachusetts . They remain closed and have not responded to calls or emails . I filed a report through the Better Business Bureau and I got a response from Annette Kent, which she blames me for not filing sooner with the insurance company..

Subsequent to my husband’s newly diagnosed hypertension , he saw the doctor, who wrote a letter documenting that his condition precluding him from traveling as his condition placed him at high risk given the pandemic. On March 10th I filed a claim with Tripmate insurance . It took several weeks to gain confirmation from them that it had been received and processed. Trip Mate has been of little assistance , because they claim to need more information from the travel supplier , Durgan , who is unresponsive to requests for information . I received six letters from TripMate all saying the same thing , with the final one asking me to contact the travel supplier since they have not responded to their requests for information. Ms . Kent ever has indicated that the tour operator is not open in Europe,in order to get the amount of refund. Gwen, the representative from AMAWaterways , told me after I called to get a status update , that a refund was issued to Durgan on April 7, 2020. The only response I received from TRIP Mate was when I emailed Debbie McCaffrey Jones, Senior VP, which I found on your website. In her response to my email , she said someone would be calling me, which never happened.

It has been more than 60 days spent trying to resolve this issue . I am requesting your assistance with obtaining the $8,138.00 refund . We saved for this trip, and as senior citizens, on a fixed income , we can not afford to lose over $8,000.00. I have quite a large file with all of the supporting documents related to this case, which I will upload to your website. If I have omitted anything , please let me know. I have been impressed with the advocacy you have provided to other consumers and hope that you can be of assistance with this frustrating situation , Thank you in advance for your help!
Sincerely, Virginia and Gary Mxxxxxxxx , xxxxxxxxx , Massachusetts

Edited by a moderator to remove personal identifying information and removed attachment that contained personal information
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,026
22,983
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I am shocked that a representative at AMA would tell you to buy an insurance policy when the Covid emergency was in effect and after your husband had a health issue because insurance doesn’t cover you when there is a pre-ex situation or health issue. But if AMA canceled the cruise you shouldn’t need to file a claim at all if you did not cancel the cruise and let AMA do it.

You should contact your credit card company and tell them you are due a refund but it isn’t being given. And you probably will have to sue the agency in Small Claims court for the cash balance you paid.

Never ever pay for travel in cash.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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It's a pity that you paid the large balance by check. As Neil stated, it is going to be very difficult to get a cash payment refunded. It seems like you wrote the check to Durgan Travel to pay the balance due for the cruise. Is this correct?

If so, then they used their agency credit card to pay the balance to Amawaterways. Ama would have refunded them (as you mentioned in your email here). So, you will have to sue them to get your money back, unless they resurface and do right by you. It appears that may be unlikely, given the attitude of the owner and the either misrepresentation or the blatant lie about Ama being closed in Europe and no refunding.
 
Nov 20, 2015
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In summary, you filed a trip cancellation claim on 3/10/20 for your cruise due to your husband's new onset medical condition. After you cancelled your trip and filed the claim, the cruise line cancelled the trip on 3/13/20. Your trip cancellation claim was approved, but you need documentation of what, if any, reimbursement you are due from the travel service/cruise company.
I would think the terms and conditions of your contract with the travel agent and/or cruise line should provide you and the insurance company with adequate documentation of what, if any, reimbursement you are due.
Are you due a refund?
(You don't say directly that you cancelled on 3/10/20, but I am inferring that you did, since you filed a trip cancellation claim on that date.)
 
Nov 20, 2015
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My point is that, if the terms and condition of the travel agreement say you aren't due any refund, and if the insurance company accepts this as proof, you could get your money from the insurer sooner than if you waited around on the travel company. If a check later comes from the travel company, you can always reimburse your insurer.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,026
22,983
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
In summary, you filed a trip cancellation claim on 3/10/20 for your cruise due to your husband's new onset medical condition. After you cancelled your trip and filed the claim, the cruise line cancelled the trip on 3/13/20. Your trip cancellation claim was approved, but you need documentation of what, if any, reimbursement you are due from the travel service/cruise company.
I would think the terms and conditions of your contract with the travel agent and/or cruise line should provide you and the insurance company with adequate documentation of what, if any, reimbursement you are due.
Are you due a refund?
(You don't say directly that you cancelled on 3/10/20, but I am inferring that you did, since you filed a trip cancellation claim on that date.)
This is what we need to determine. Did she cancel before the cruise line? And do you have two different policies - insurance you bought at the time of booking for $658 AND then the CFAR waiver?

Who charged your credit card - Durgans or AMA? If Durgans did, this is where your problem is. Their website says they are reopening the office May 26. Are you near them at all? At the very least you should try calling them again on the 26th. If you can go into the office, even better.

If they still don't answer you, file a complaint with the Attorney General in Massachusetts because it appears this agency is trying to get out of paying you if the cruise line refunded all or part of the money. At this point you don't even know how much AMA refunded, do you? Did they refund everything to the agency?

You can also contact your credit card company and see if you can dispute the charge if Durgans doesn't help you.
 
May 12, 2020
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It's a pity that you paid the large balance by check. As Neil stated, it is going to be very difficult to get a cash payment refunded. It seems like you wrote the check to Durgan Travel to pay the balance due for the cruise. Is this correct?

If so, then they used their agency credit card to pay the balance to Amawaterways. Ama would have refunded them (as you mentioned in your email here). So, you will have to sue them to get your money back, unless they resurface and do right by you. It appears that may be unlikely, given the attitude of the owner and the either misrepresentation or the blatant lie about Ama being closed in Europe and no refunding.
I did pay the balance by check even though my instincts said no! so to save 300.00 we lost 8,000.00, I am still trying to work with Trip mate , we had a valid health issue .
 
May 12, 2020
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I have already filed a claim with the Attorney General in Massachusetts , they were served the notice but because they were closed they only responded to him by email , nothing has happened since. i also filed a claim with Better Business Bureau , and she replied for the first time ,saying I should have filed a claim with the insurance and not them ! the insurance company is waiting to get the information from them as to the amount of the refund because they will not finalize the claim until they tell them ! I do not know why she will not tell the the amount of if any refund we have coming because they ended up cancelling all of it .
 
May 12, 2020
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My point is that, if the terms and condition of the travel agreement say you aren't due any refund, and if the insurance company accepts this as proof, you could get your money from the insurer sooner than if you waited around on the travel company. If a check later comes from the travel company, you can always reimburse your insurer.
They did cancel this trip 6 days before departure , I never cancelled with them , I sent the forms in directly to the insurance company .
 
May 12, 2020
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I am shocked that a representative at AMA would tell you to buy an insurance policy when the Covid emergency was in effect and after your husband had a health issue because insurance doesn’t cover you when there is a pre-ex situation or health issue. But if AMA canceled the cruise you shouldn’t need to file a claim at all if you did not cancel the cruise and let AMA do it.

You should contact your credit card company and tell them you are due a refund but it isn’t being given. And you probably will have to sue the agency in Small Claims court for the cash balance you paid.

Never ever pay for travel in cash.
I have learned a hard lesson for sure , to get a discount I paid by check . The problem was the communication between AMA and the travel agency was not happening , I did not know what to do , so I called AMA and purchased the waiver before 3/10 . they did give us back that money on our credit card on 4/7 . Which is the same date they refunded Durgan Travel.I was sure the trip would be cancelled , but they told me that as of 3/10 it was till on and I would lose all my money . I did file a insurance claim then , and it was a valid one , husband 81 , hypertension. They cancelled on 3/13 , and have not been able to get an answer from them or TRip mate since .again I only put the deposit on my cc . whis I am working on to get back . The trip never went , they have my money ... that is not right is it ? THye act like it is our fault the trip did not go and we want our money back !
 
May 12, 2020
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This is what we need to determine. Did she cancel before the cruise line? And do you have two different policies - insurance you bought at the time of booking for $658 AND then the CFAR waiver?

Who charged your credit card - Durgans or AMA? If Durgans did, this is where your problem is. Their website says they are reopening the office May 26. Are you near them at all? At the very least you should try calling them again on the 26th. If you can go into the office, even better.

If they still don't answer you, file a complaint with the Attorney General in Massachusetts because it appears this agency is trying to get out of paying you if the cruise line refunded all or part of the money. At this point you don't even know how much AMA refunded, do you? Did they refund everything to the agency?

You can also contact your credit card company and see if you can dispute the charge if Durgans doesn't help you.
I will try to call them and if i can not get an answer I will go in later in the week ,I did send in the tripmate insurance on 3/10 , I got an email on 3/13 that the trip was cancelled from durgan .
I have filed claims with the BBB and the attorney gen of Ma , so far nothing has happened. BBB was not able to help me and closed the case. THe waiver was refunded by AMA. Because they cancelled the cruise .
Durgans only got the deposit on CC , because we paid the rest by check to save money? I have no idea what the refund was? If i knew i could tel Tripmate , can you help?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,026
22,983
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
So AMA never charged your credit card? Durgans charged it? Have you tried to dispute the credit card charge?

The Attorney General will take awhile. They are inundated with cases. But if anyone can do anything it will be the AG.
 
May 12, 2020
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So AMA never charged your credit card? Durgans charged it? Have you tried to dispute the credit card charge?

The Attorney General will take awhile. They are inundated with cases. But if anyone can do anything it will be the AG.
No...... Durgan only charged the AMA waiver , which was credited to my cc , the deposit of $1800.00, was put on my cc last march , I have disputed that and am working on it . The remainder of the trip , which is $6,155.00 is still unpaid !
Can you go into their office next week when it reopens?
I know , the attorney generals office has not been in touch for weeks! I can try to go into the office , it is an hour from here or more.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,026
22,983
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I’m getting more confused. What do you mean that the remainder is unpaid? So AMA charged your card? And you received $1800 back but not all of it? How much remaining of the balance was on your card vs. what you paid by check?

Honestly your best bet it to go to the office once you know they reopen. You might walk out with a check for what is owed - that’s worth an hours drive.
 
May 12, 2020
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I’m getting more confused. What do you mean that the remainder is unpaid? So AMA charged your card? And you received $1800 back but not all of it? How much remaining of the balance was on your card vs. what you paid by check?

Honestly your best bet it to go to the office once you know they reopen. You might walk out with a check for what is owed - that’s worth an hours drive.
I would do that but they say they will not let anyone in , i will wait till it is opened still restricted in massachusetts
 
May 12, 2020
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I had my cc reverse the initial deposit with documentation of$ 1800.00, leaving us with a balance of 6,155.00 unpaid to us , we paid that amount by check .
 
May 12, 2020
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So AMA never charged your credit card? Durgans charged it? Have you tried to dispute the credit card charge?

The Attorney General will take awhile. They are inundated with cases. But if anyone can do anything it will be the AG.
yes and yes to both questions