Local family fights for refund after student’s Europe trip is postponed

Parents seek refund for cancelled school trip

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It was supposed to be the ultimate trip for students to go to England, France and Spain.

However, due to the coronavirus, the trip had to be postponed. Now, parents are fighting to get their money back.

“There’s no reason that any big company like this that should be taking advantage of a global circumstance and shortchanging children or their parents,” said Aaron DeVincenzo.

For DeVincenzo’s 17-year-old daughter Sydney and three dozen other students at Lincoln Charter School, it was going to be the trip of a lifetime -12 days of sightseeing with EF Educational Tours across some of the most iconic landmarks in Europe.

The problem—the trip was scheduled for April 8 to the 19, right in the middle of the global pandemic. The trip needed to be postponed.

“And then we had a big meeting at the school and everyone was wearing masks and social distancing and everyone had the same question – what about our refund?,” DeVincenzo said

Sydney saved every penny to get $33-hundred dollars to go on the trip. She also paid for additional insurance, but it didn’t cover anything like COVID-19.

“My daughter went and got a job at Subway at 15, 15 and a half years old, and stuck her money in the bank every week,” DeVincenzo said.

WBTV contacted EF Tours to find out why, in the middle of a global pandemic, they are refusing to give a full $3,300 refund. EF is keeping $565 dollars needed to cover their overhead and costs to hotels and airlines but students could reschedule.

In a statement to WBTV they indicated:

“For trips departing prior to May 15, we are refunding everything but $565. These refund policies cover only a partial amount of the costs EF has already incurred for each tour. While we have no insurance to cover these losses nor have we received any government bailout money, we are committed to continuing our negotiations…to return further savings to our travelers.”

WBTV contacted Attorney General Josh Stein to see if any complaints have been filed to address refunds during the global pandemic.

The AG’s office says, “Please tell the families you are talking to that they can file a complaint with our office . . .”. They indicated the Consumer Protection Division has been made aware of the situation and will be watching for complaints.

Families say something needs to be done, saying no one could have predicted a global pandemic or designed trip insurance to cover a pandemic.

“We just feel like we’re taken advantage of by bigger companies. They say they’re going to help out or refund your money or work with you during a situation, but they don’t,” DeVincenzo said.

WBTV talked to the Chief Administrator at Lincoln Charter School. He said all financial arrangements are between the students and the travel company.

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