Thousands of families throughout Northeast Ohio are facing a school trip they paid for, but may not (or definitely won’t, for at least 500 families in the Mentor public school district) be taking due to alleged failures by a private tour company - recently identified in news articles as Discovery Tours - to pay for hotels. Ideally, the trips scheduled through Discovery Tours by other area school districts, including Hudson, North Royalton, and Chagrin Falls, and likely more, will proceed as planned, or full refunds will be issued by Discovery Tours. But what happens if trips are canceled, and refunds do not materialize?
When payments are made directly to the tour company, consumer remedies are available beyond direct recourse from the company. While the complete details remain unclear as of today, below are initial options to consider if your student’s trip is canceled and you don’t receive a refund:
File a Complaint With the Ohio Attorney General
The Ohio Attorney General investigates consumer claims against sellers, and in some cases, seeks refunds on the consumers’ behalf. While the Attorney General investigates consumer claims at its discretion, numerous complaints against the same seller are more apt to receive attention. Consumer complaints can be filed on-line at: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Consumers/File-A-Complaint.aspx
. Consumers can also contact the Ohio Attorney General at (800) 282-0515 or www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov
. Filing a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General is the best course of action for consumers who paid by check.
Seek a Refund From the Credit Card Issuer
A refund for goods or services paid for with a credit card, but never received, may be available from the credit card issuer. In this scenario, which differs from unauthorized transactions or billing errors, the federal Fair Credit Billing Act provides that card issuers may be subject to the same legal action consumers have against the seller of the goods or services. A $50.00 minimum purchase is required for this remedy, and the purchase must have been made in the consumer’s home state or within 100 miles of the current billing address. A good faith effort to first resolve the dispute with the seller is also required. More information is available from the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0219-disputing-credit-card-charges
. Cardholders should also contact their card issuer to confirm any specific policies or procedures.
For further advice on these or related issues, contact Melissa A. Jones
or (216) 515-1437.