Refund disputes amid the pandemic top the State Department of Consumer Affair’s complaint list


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – According to the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, refund disputes have been the most common complaint received by the department this quarter.

Rich Kaminsky planned to set sail on an Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) cruise in April, but the company cancelled the trip in March due to increased travel restrictions amid the pandemic.

“MSC instructed all its customers on cancelled ships that you could choose between 125% future cruise credit or a refund,” said Kaminsky.

The Summerville man filled out a refund request form provided by the company and was told he would get his money back in 60 days, but never received the deposit.

“$1,900 is a good amount of money. It is frustrating when someone is holding your money without good cause,” he said. “Just give me my money,” he added.

Kaminsky said he contacted Orbitz, the booking agency, several times but could not get a clear answer as to what was causing the delay.

“In June I contacted them some more [and] they said they escalated our case. [I] got up to the resolution department, and said, ‘hey, in 7 to 10 days you will have your refund.’ I said, that’s fine I at least know now,” he said. “Then 7 to 10 days pass, still no money,” he continued

In August, Kaminsky contacted the Count on 2 Investigators.

“I’m kinda stuck. I am stuck. I have no where else to turn so hopefully News 2 can get wheels turning at MSC,” he said.

News 2 contacted MSC Cruises and within a week Kaminsky was returned $1,484 of the $1,900 refund requested.

The company spokesperson said they processed the full refund. The spokesperson listed various reason for the missing $466, including shore excursions booked separately and banking institution complications.

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently processing a high volume of refunds and Future Cruise Credits, ultimately slowing down our normal refund process. We appreciate our guests’ patience and understanding as we aim to process refunds as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any delay this unprecedented situation has caused.”

MSC Cruises Spokesperson

Kaminsky did not have any shore excursions booked and said he is tired of the excuses.

Bailey Parker with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs said there are steps you should take to protect yourself.

“You should not assume even though it’s a pandemic that they are going to be nice about it,” said Parker. “Always know what you are getting yourself into,” she continued.

She encouraged hopeful travelers to read the terms and conditions very carefully, consider travel insurance, and pay with a credit card so charges can be disputed after the fact.

You can file a complaint here.

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