Published on : Monday, June 20, 2016
Traveller Ron Sadler and his wife Jane booked tickets on a Nordic cruise for a ‘Russian Border Excursion’. Due to Mrs. Sadler’s illness, they had to cancel their tickets, two weeks prior to the date of the departure.
After the ticket cancellation, the cruise line kept 100pc of the fare (£1,908 per voyager). Hearing Mr. Sadler’s complaint, the company offered him 25pc off on their future cruise, just to maintain their goodwill in the market, instead of refunding his money. Later, as the date of voyage arrived, the cruise line cancelled the trip for ‘technical reason’.
The cruise line usually relies on onerous terms and conditions, which allow them to deny any refund to the tourist who cancels the ticket because of illness or death. According to the guidelines by the Competition and Market Authority, “The business is generally only entitled to keep or receive an amount sufficient to cover their actual losses that directly result from cancellation”.
In case of Hurtigruten, no such loss occurred, as the cruise never set its sails. All but Mr. Sadler were compensated after the cancellation of the trip. When Sadler protested, the customer services of Hurtigruten stated, “In accordance with our terms and conditions, we charged you 100pc cancellation fees. We appreciate the sailing did not eventuate; the reason for this was due to a matter outside of our control.” He was also asked by the cruise line to claim the money from his insurance policy.
According to Sadler, “My view is that, yes, I probably will, but is that really fair to the insurer? I’m surprised at Hurtigruten. I don’t think they’re being fair or reasonable.”
The guidelines of the Competition and Market Authority clearly states, when a company charges 100pc cancellation fee from their client, they must be able to prove that they suffered an actual loss. Otherwise, the company can be challenged legally.
Instead of providing any proof, the company spokesperson argued, “Our terms and conditions clearly state that any cancellations made less than 14 days before sailing will incur a 100pc cancellation fee. While it is regrettable that the ship Mr and Mrs Sadler had booked did not sail due to technical difficulties, their cancellation was made before a decision was taken to not sail.”
Just because the old couple had to make a cancellation because of illness, the cruise line saw an amazing opportunity to squeeze some money out of them. When the guideline clearly backs up the claim of the Sadlers, for how long the cruise line can avoid legal hassle! How is the action of the Hurtigruten Expedition Voyage Operator justified?