Advertisement

B.C. customer concerned vacation rental’s refund policy created pressure to travel

Click to play video: 'B.C. customer concerned vacation rental’s refund policy creates pressure to travel' B.C. customer concerned vacation rental’s refund policy creates pressure to travel
WATCH: Public health advice not to travel has prompted many to cancel travel plans this holiday season. A B.C. resident who had to nix her vacation is speaking out. The Victoria woman says the cancellation policy at a vacation rental business in Revelstoke left her felling pressured to travel despite the travel restrictions. – Dec 23, 2020

Public health advice not to travel has prompted many in British Columbia to cancel travel plans this holiday season.

And in some cases, it’s also leading to conflicts between businesses and customers over cancellation policies.

A Victoria woman who had to nix her vacation and couldn’t get a refund is speaking out.

Read more: British Columbia imposes province-wide travel restrictions

Maegan Scheiber said the cancellation policy at a vacation rental business in Revelstoke left her feeling pressured to travel despite travel restrictions.

Scheiber said in early November she booked a Revelstoke vacation for a group of family and friends scheduled for mid-December.

However, the province ramped up public health advice, telling people not to travel for non-essential reasons province-wide, and a community COVID-19 cluster was identified in Revelstoke.

Story continues below advertisement

She decided the responsible thing to do was to cancel their vacation rental booking.

Click to play video: 'B.C. family fighting Sunwing Vacations gets refund' B.C. family fighting Sunwing Vacations gets refund
B.C. family fighting Sunwing Vacations gets refund – Nov 10, 2020

“Because our cancellation was too late for their cancellation policy, they told us that we can have credit but we couldn’t have a refund,” Scheiber said.

“That was pretty disappointing to hear because I had booked this as a Christmas present for my family and I couldn’t really afford to do anything else.”

As for a future trip, Scheiber doesn’t think the same group will be able to use the credit.

Read more: B.C. premier calls on prime minister to ask other provinces to restrict non-essential travel

 

“Because they told me I wouldn’t get a refund, we felt pressured to go and since there was an outbreak there, it seems really amoral for them to ask us to do something like that,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“(It) puts Revelstoke residents at risk and I didn’t want to travel and risk my family’s health either.”

The business, Revelstoke Vacation Rentals, defended its handling of the booking.

It declined an on-camera interview, but said in a statement that it’s very clear about its cancellation policies, showing guests the cancellation information multiple times during the booking process.

Click to play video: 'Relief in Revelstoke after community COVID-19 cluster contained' Relief in Revelstoke after community COVID-19 cluster contained
Relief in Revelstoke after community COVID-19 cluster contained – Dec 13, 2020

The business said due to the new provincewide advice to avoid nonessential travel, it made the decision to offer the group credit for a future holiday because it did not want to pressure guests into defying travel restrictions.

“At the time the guest made the booking, she was aware that there was a global pandemic, there could be a risk existing travel restrictions near her region could be imposed elsewhere, and it was her choice alone to make a booking,” the company’s statement said.

Story continues below advertisement

Asked about travel cancellations earlier this month, B.C. Premier John Horgan said he was sympathetic to customers, but suggested people could have anticipated travel restrictions were possible.

Read more: Coronavirus: Revelstoke mayor urges tourists to stay away as community cluster grows to 46

Horgan added that the province has a plan for the tourism industry.

“We’ll be seeing money flowing to the tourism sector which I hope will allow them to provide refunds to people who will not be able to get the services they paid for,” Horgan said.

In the meantime, cancellations are clearly creating a difficult situation for tourism operators and travellers alike.

Sponsored content