Chaos and confusions strike the tourism industry amidst the Corvid19 epidemic as consumers gripped in the fear scramble to cancel or postpone their previous travel plans. However, travel bookings are subject to the terms and conditions in the invoices at the time of purchase, a legal binding contract between consumers and their service providers. Given the growing pandemic, some travel suppliers are willing to amend cancelation policies and provide a refund to consumers at no additional cost. But these generous actions are goodwill gestures and not mandated by law. They are made out of travel suppliers’ empathy and care for its customers, and even at the company’s expenses.
3月17日/ 周二 新闻简报 死亡8例 全国累计629例，联邦将宣布250亿援助计划 延后报税截止日
一个有22位成员的旅行团于去年12月通过多伦多的GoGo Tours购买了3月17日前往摩洛哥的旅行，每人全程费用为$3000元。但当疫情爆发后，旅游团开始担心，害怕旅行期间染病。当与意大利仅一条渡轮之隔的摩洛哥出现更多病例后，许多团员想取消计划。但GoGo Tours向他们表示，根据他们预订的旅游计划的取消条款，此时取消旅游只能拿回旅费的10%。
A group of 22 people booked a March 17’s trip to Morocco through GoGo Tours in Toronto in Dec. 2019 at the cost of $3000 per person. At the heart of the outbreak, fears over getting contaminated during the trip have grown among group members. When more cases of infection emerged in Morocco -- the country only a ferry away from Italy, many group members decided to cancel the trip. But GoGo Tours informed them that their booking was subject to the refund policy that provided only 10 percent of the purchase price.
GoGo Tours的老板Leo Wang表示：“客户所付的款项绝大部分都进了航空公司，旅店和餐馆等机构的囊中，且我们付款时也与这些供应商签订合同，无法随意获得退款。”
“The majority of the customers’ payments went to the airlines, hotels, and restaurants and these payments are also subject to the terms and conditions we signed with the suppliers at the time of the purchase,” said Leo Wang, the owner of GoGo Tours.
GoGo Tours的退款政策似乎满足安省旅游监管机构TICO的规定，且旅行团向 TICO 的投诉也未得到监管机构的受理。TICO提供的疫情期间旅行指南明确指出，旅行社没有任何法律义务向要求取消行程的旅客提供无偿退款。一般来说，如果消费者提出取消旅行，退款手续应完全遵循购团发票上所注明的退款条款规定。
GoGo Tours’ arguments seemed to be in line with the regulations of TICO, the Ontario regulator of the travel industry, and the tour group’s complaints to TICO met the stone wall. TICO’s guideline for travel plans affected by coronavirus made it clear that travel operators were not obligated to offer customers options to cancel or suspend tours at no additional cost. In general, the penalties specified in terms and conditions in the invoices will apply if consumers cancel or rebook with the tour operator.
TICO的运营副总裁Dorian Werda在接受《大中报》采访时表示：“TICO不能强迫GoGo Tours提供退款，让客户改期或延期…..我们无权这么做，也不能更改任何团购合同的条款……如果该团团员曾购买了旅游取消保险，那他们可能会有些法律余地。”
“TICO cannot compel GoGo Tours to offer reimbursement, to rebook the tour or to delay it... We have no authority to do that. We can’t override the terms and conditions of the booking,” said Dorian Werda, VP of operations with TICO said in an interview with Chinese News, “Had the consumers purchased the cancelation insurance, perhaps they would have some recourse.”
However, the tour group believed to cancel the trip was a responsible decision for the escalating crisis and also for the greater good of controlling the global pandemic. They decided to take matters into their own hands by contacting the booked airlines and hotels directly, vocalizing their beliefs and expressing their deep-seated concerns. While the airline offered them credit for future bookings, all hotels except Hilton agreed to cancel without charge.
GoGo Tours, although without the legal obligation, agreed to the tour group’s demand and decided to refund almost the entire amount of cost to each group member – after deducting only a $200 service fee. While the decision has made the tour group happy and relieved, GoGo Tours is still facing many legal hurdles to seek a refund from their service suppliers.
GoGo Tours的老板Leo Wang向《大中报》表示：“我们尽了最大努力以让客户们满意，很大程度上也是出于对客户的同情和关爱…… 在旅游行业里我们旅行社也是消费者，也是这场瘟疫的受害者。如果其他供应商拒绝修改他们的退款政策，并以签订的合同为由不提供退款，那么我们的处境将非常艰难。”
“I’ve gone the extra mile for my customers because I emphasize with their feelings and concerns,” says Leo Wang, the owner of GoGo Tours. “But we are also a consumer in the tourism industry and a victim in this virus-caused disaster. If our service providers refuse to amend their refund policies and throw the contract in my face, we would be in a much dire situation,” said Wang.
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