Q: Viking Cruises is refusing to issue a total refund after canceling operations and promising refunds.

My wife and I paid $10,096 for a cruise and tour on the Viking Idi for April. When the coronavirus pandemic flared up, Viking informed me that it would allow postponement of our trip for up to two years.

I asked Viking if the trip had been canceled, and it said no. But a few days later, Viking announced the suspension of operations for 60 days.

I immediately asked Viking for a full refund and got a rejection. Then I read a story that Viking was offering a full refund or a voucher for a future trip at 120%. But I had only been offered a voucher at 100%.

I asked my travel agent to cite that story and demand a full refund. As of today, there is no response. I think Viking is ignoring refund requests.

I’m retired. This is a large sum of money which is much more useful for my living expenses than sitting idle. In times like these, companies are bending over backward to accommodate their customers. Viking is holding my money ransom and shows utter disregard for keeping its word and corporate decency. I want my money back — now. Please help.

 

A: Viking should fully refund your cruise. But does it have to? Technically, no. Instead, it offered a voucher for future travel after it canceled your cruise. It promised refunds later — but not to you.

This is a common problem during the pandemic. If you cancel your vacation and accept a voucher, you’re stuck with that credit. However, if the company cancels, it should offer a full refund.

It’s perfectly reasonable to argue that you don’t want to give Viking a microloan for up to two years. But the fact that you’re retired has no bearing on this case. No one should have to accept a two-year credit, regardless of their financial situation.

Still, Viking gave you a cruise credit and then, only a few days later, offered full refunds or a 125% voucher. It just seems unfair even though technically Viking is allowed to do it.

Fortunately, you kept a paper trail — you called it “long and cumbersome” — which showed your many efforts to resolve this in a fair manner.

I can’t make Viking refund your cruise. But you have options. A polite appeal — which you’ve already tried — is a reasonable first step. You can also accept the vouchers, as thousands of other passengers have. And then there’s the nuclear option: disputing the charges on your credit card and forcing Viking to refund your cruise.

You chose door number three. Your bank promptly returned your money.

 

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.