Q: My wife and I bought a seven-night, air-inclusive package to Grand Cayman through Apple Vacations for our fifth anniversary. We did not purchase the trip insurance, because we didn't think anything could stop us from going. We were wrong.
A few days before our vacation, my wife suffered a miscarriage. The doctor told us that she could not fly due to the complications and uncertainty.
The day after that, she had to have an emergency dilation and curettage. We have records and documentation as well as a doctor's note.
We shared our story with Apple Vacations, and it said there was nothing it could do until the trip was canceled. An Apple Vacations representative promised us a credit by phone. Instead, the company issued us a $172 gift card and told us that we have $672 each to use at American Airlines, minus a $200 change fee.
We called multiple times and wrote several e-mails trying to get hold of Apple Vacations' customer-care department. The company's automated response reads that it will get back to us in 21 to 35 business days.
We feel that this is completely unacceptable. We understand that rules are rules, and regret not purchasing the trip insurance. We hope that someone with a heart can review our case and help us out.
I was on the phone for three hours with Apple Vacations this evening, only to be told again that nothing could be done, but to try another number. I fear the company is spinning me in circles, hoping I give up.
A: I'm really sorry to hear about the miscarriage. At a time like that, you would expect a compassionate response. And, indeed, a representative initially did offer you a credit.
Then reality hit. Apple Vacations appeared to reverse course.
Travel insurance companies sometimes consider a pregnancy a "pre-existing" medical condition and deny claims. Other times, companies may do the right thing and honor a claim made after a complication or miscarriage. In other words, having insurance is no guarantee that your case would have turned out better.
The terms of your purchase were clear. Cancel within 30 days and you lose everything. You agreed to that when you booked your vacation.
Your airfare was even more restrictive — a nonrefundable economy-class ticket that will give you a flight credit minus a $200 change fee. That fee eats up almost a third of the value of your ticket, and American gets to resell the seat you didn't use.
I keep coming back to the Apple Vacations employee who promised you a credit. Somewhere, there's a recording of that conversation, and if the company took the time to listen to it, it might see things your way.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at email@example.com.