Attorneys: Dispute Charges With Credit Card Company, Do Not Pay EF Tours
EF Tours May Be Banned From Area School Districts If Full Refunds Aren’t Offered
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Students and parents in Boca Raton, throughout Palm Beach County and nationwide are preparing to fight EF Tours, a national educational tour company based in Massachusetts. The company refuses to refund money to students expecting to take part in educational European tours over the next few months.
The trips are cancelled. EF Tours charged these students in the $4000-$5000 range. EF Tours has their money in full and won’t offer refunds.
Among the students being bilked — a group from Olympic Heights high school in Boca Raton.
While EF tours is offering travel vouchers for future trips, the company is only offering partial refunds to those who want their money back. The service fee? $1000.
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BocaNewNow.com has spoken with parents not just in Boca Raton but in other states. All are being told the same thing. EF, they say, is being unreasonable. Families cut back to pay for these trips. Kids spent months raising funds, saving, dreaming of the European tour experience. And now EF is holding their money hostage.
“EF’s voucher offer is absurd,” said a parent speaking with BocaNewsNow.com. “Vouchers do nothing for high school seniors who have no idea what their lives will look like in a year. They may have little interest as college students to embark on a trip with kids in high school.”
Parents have even less interest in letting EF Tours hold their money — thousands of dollars — on which EF could earn interest.
EF Tours spokesman Adam Bickelman refused to discuss refunds with BocaNewsNow.com. He pointed us to EF’s website which focuses on travel vouchers but little else. In the “why can’t I get a full refund” section, EF writes:
“EF Educational Tours books large volumes of flights, hotels and entrances months, if not years, in advance. Many of these at a group booking level which is subject to different cancellation rules than typical consumers.”
But attorneys reviewing that language say EF must issue refunds — especially when the entire travel world has effectively shut down with airlines and hotels routinely offering full refunds.
A quick fix? Initiating a credit card dispute. For parents who paid by credit card, a call to your credit card company can initiate a chargeback. You can also often file a dispute online. Disputes immediately return the funds to your account as the the credit card company investigates EF’s policies and procedures. If the credit company agrees that the charge is unreasonable, or if EF files for bankruptcy, your refund will become permanent.
If the credit card company agrees that the charge is unreasonable, or EF Tours files for bankruptcy, your refund will become permanent.
School Districts are also putting on pressure. While the Palm Beach County School District hasn’t yet weighed in, the Broward County School District is making it clear to vendors like EF that they will be banned from the School District if full refunds aren’t offered during the Coronavirus crisis.
Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is also aware of EF’s position. The division oversees tour operators like EF Tours and has the ability to ban them from conducting business in Florida.
Do you have an EF Tours story? Email us: news(at)bocanewsnow.com.