Plans Ruined by Coronavirus? You Should At Least Get a Refund

A woman looks bored looking at a window during quarantine due to coronavirus.
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It seems like not so long ago we were planning our springs and summers, perhaps purchasing concert tickets or booking a vacation.

Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

But then the world shut down, and a lot of those plans got shifted or cancelled altogether. In some cases, you might have gotten an email from the vendor, but in others, it may be radio silence.

If you’re not going to get what you paid for, you should at least get your money back. If you’re still seeking recourse for coronavirus cancellations, here are some actions you can take.

Event or Service Cancelled Due to COVID-19? Here’s What to Do

As much of a bummer as it is to not get the thing you wanted, it’s even more of a bummer to pay for it anyway.

Here’s what to do if your plans have been cancelled due to the coronavirus and you haven’t heard anything about a refund.

Reach out to the vendor — maybe more than once.

It’s always best to go straight to the source first. If you haven’t received any kind of correspondence offering you a refund or credit, reach out to the service provider or vendor.

Quarantine measures have shuttered some call centers, but most businesses are, at the very least, responding to emails.

Because shelter-in-place orders have had such a serious impact on businesses, the company may request you hold onto your tickets for a raincheck as opposed to offering an outright refund. 

Consider a chargeback.

If you paid with a credit or debit card, you may be able to file for a chargeback with your bank. A chargeback allows customers to recoup money from a transaction that’s already been processed — though it can be a lengthy process and, like other financial disputes, may not turn out in your favor.

To file a chargeback, you’ll need to contact the bank that issues your credit card and go through the dispute-filing process. You may also be required to show documented proof of purchase. However, chargebacks are most successful in the case of a fraudulent translation, and may not be granted in these circumstances.

Contact the FTC.

The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, is the federal agency charged with protecting consumers from unfair, deceptive and fraudulent marketplace practices. It provides a sample complaint letter that you can use to help get your money back from the vendor directly, but it’s also involved in lawsuits that can result in consumer refunds.

Although it may not offer immediate recourse, reporting a company to the FTC is a step you can take toward documenting unfair practices and potentially achieving justice in the long term. The FTC also hosts a database of local agencies that might be able to help you build a case against a business.

Be patient.

Just as the coronavirus upended your plans, it upended a lot of business owners’ plans, too. Almost every individual lost job represents a larger organization struggling to keep its doors open.

So one good option is to simply sit back and wait to see what happens. 

Jamie Cattanach’s work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Huffington Post, The Motley Fool and other outlets. Learn more at www.jamiecattanach.com.