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American Queen Voyages canceled my cruise but kept my $10,126

Carolyn Hoke has been waiting more than a year for her refund from American Queen Voyages for a canceled cruise. Why is it taking so long -- and how can she speed up the process?

I booked a seven-night river cruise from St. Louis to Minneapolis with American Queen Voyages. But it was canceled in November 2022. I requested a full refund, but as of today, I have not received it.

The American Queen Voyages representatives are very apologetic when I call them. I've escalated my request to the cruise line's accounting department and have written to the American Queen Voyages contacts listed on your consumer advocacy site. I've also complained to the Florida Division of Consumer Service since the company is headquartered in Florida. It has forwarded my request to the company.

I would like a full refund of the $10,126 I paid to American Queen Voyages. I have been waiting for more than a year. Can you help me?

Carolyn Hoke, Dallas

American Queen Voyages should have promptly sent you a refund for the canceled cruise.

American Queen Voyages has a reputation for taking its time with refunds. I've had multiple cases where refunds that should have taken a few days extended for months.

Why? The company won't say. (I've asked numerous times). The innocent explanation -- and the one I hope is true -- is that the company simply has a backlog of refund requests and is taking a while to work through them. But I've also seen this type of foot-dragging with other cruise lines, and it was a precursor to a bankruptcy filing.

How do you get your refund faster? By being persistent and polite (two essential ingredients of the Elliott method for fixing a consumer complaint). It looks like you found a way to escalate your complaint to the accounting department. You might have also applied gentle and continuous pressure on the American Queen Voyages executive contacts I publish on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

Another possible way to get your money back is a credit card dispute. If you paid by credit card, you can push for a quick refund by contacting your credit card provider. If you show them a written promise to refund the cruise, your bank will regard that as a credit memo and might issue a refund.

Executives do read their emails, and if they see someone popping up again and again, asking for a refund, they might eventually call the right person and say, "Cut Carolyn a check!"

I contacted American Queen Voyages on your behalf. A few weeks later, I received an update from you. You had received a check for $9,126 from the cruise line. But where was the rest? You reached out to Florida regulators and to the company to find out.

"It took a couple of weeks, but the balance is pending on our credit card account as of today," you reported.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the story. A few weeks after I wrapped up this case, American Queen Voyages ceased operations.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (https://elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at https://elliottadvocacy.org/help/

© 2024 Christopher Elliott

 

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