Man finally takes a fully paid Viking cruise canceled by COVID. The company is asking for another 10,000.

If you’re planning a trip with someone else — a spouse, companion, friend — and your travel partner has to cancel, you could end up with thousands of dollars in extra charges.

We don’t mean losing the money paid for the person who can’t make the trip.

We are talking about additional costs, just for traveling as a single person.

It happened to Richard Andersen, a 79-year-old Somerset man who has been battling with Viking Cruise Lines since April.

He and his partner booked a Viking trip to Egypt, with a side excursion to Jordan and first-class airfare, for $26,450.

Then COVID hit and the trip had to be delayed.

When Andersen was finally ready to travel, his partner, due to deteriorating health, was unable to leave. He was ready to make the journey alone.

Under Viking’s terms and conditions, his partner would be reimbursed half of the cost of his trip in the form of a voucher.

But there was another wrinkle.

“The Viking agent said I would have to pay an additional $9,898. When asked what this was for, the response was that I would get vouchers for future Viking cruises that were worth more than the extra payment “Andersen said. “There was little discussion about it and I don’t remember asking what would happen if I didn’t pay the extra. I really wanted to do this trip, which I was looking forward to. for two and a half years.

Andersen paid the fees with his credit card and made the solo trip in March.

Richard Andersen stands in front of the Pyramid of Saqqara in Egypt. He was asked to pay more for a Viking cruise because his traveling companion had to cancel. (Courtesy of Richard Andersen)

When he got back, he started thinking about all the extras and promised vouchers. It turns out the vouchers, worth $14,960 to her partner, were non-transferable. It was unclear if his partner would be well enough to travel in the future. But what about Andersen’s vouchers?

Andersen did some research. The cruise line’s terms and conditions raised red flags, he said.

“I don’t see anything in their terms and conditions that would indicate additional expense would be incurred if one person was unable to make the trip but the second did,” he said.

He sent Viking a certified letter on April 10 asking for a cash refund of the additional $9,898 payment and wondering if his partner’s vouchers could be transferred to another person.

A month passed without a response.

Over the next few months, he tried numerous ways to contact the company so someone could respond to his requests, with no success.

“I have to write to various companies about lesser concerns and I’ve never been blocked like Viking blocked me,” he said. “It amazes me that a big company, even a private one, treats me like I was mistreated.”

He asked Bamboozled for help.

GET ANSWERS

We reviewed Andersen’s letters and emails to Viking, and asked the company to investigate its complaint.

While waiting for an answer, we did some research.

Complaints about Viking’s fees, vouchers, and lack of cash refunds are nothing new, based on consumer complaints. And when the company is asked by the media about individual cases, it appears to make some kind of concession but requires passengers to sign a nondisclosure agreement, so final resolutions are usually secret.

It happened to a New Jersey couple who wanted cash instead of a voucher after Viking canceled a cruise due to COVID.

It also happened to a Florida man whose trip with his wife was also canceled due to the pandemic. They were offered vouchers, but when the woman died, Viking did not allow reimbursement. Later he came to an undisclosed deal with the husband.

There are others.

It makes sense that the company charges more for a single traveler. It can accommodate more travelers – and get paid more money – when the cabins are double occupancy.

But when a cruise has already been paid for in full, if a traveler can’t make the trip, does the person who is still leaving have to pay more, especially when it doesn’t appear anywhere in the fine print?

After our investigation, Andersen was contacted by someone in the company’s customer relations department, but he spent several weeks playing phone and email games before he could make his case.

When Andersen repeatedly asked why he was charged $9,898 in the first place, the rep ignored the question, the emails show. Eventually, the rep acknowledged it was a “one-time supplement,” according to the emails.

Andersen asked specifically where in the terms and conditions it stated that he should be charged the one-time surcharge. The rep said there were “requirements” for individual passengers, as the emails show, but she didn’t or couldn’t point to the exact wording of the terms and conditions.

She sent Andersen the terms and conditions, but he said he couldn’t find anything saying he should have been charged more. We couldn’t find anything either.

He was eventually offered more vouchers with an extended reservation deadline, according to the emails. It also allowed some vouchers to be transferred to other family members, which was important as it is unclear whether Andersen’s partner will be well enough to travel in the future. he had 60 days to accept or decline the offer.

We asked Viking to flag which language required additional fees, but they didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

Andersen said he was taking more time to consider the offer and still wanted the company to confirm what the terms and conditions say for a situation like his.

“We have canceled three Royal Caribbean cruises during the COVID period and have received full cash refunds for each one,” he said, noting that it is “very unlikely” that he and his partner will ever be able to use the good ones because of his health. “Then there is Viking, who is a black hole for any money given to them. I believe the fact that Viking is willing to give me vouchers worth twice the value of my requested cash refund indicates that they are acknowledging that they have done something wrong.

“They just don’t want to part with the money,” Andersen said.

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Karin Price Mueller can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @KPMueller.

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