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Open letter to Orland Ashford, CEO HAL - where are our refunds?

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Here is what I would say to Mr Ashford:

Dear Orlando Ashford,

I want you to know that I really appreciate what you did for us Westerdam passengers that were stranded in Cambodia.  You came to us and immediately took charge.  You arranged for us to all have a test to show that we did not have COVID-19.  You put us up in one of the best hotels in Cambodia, with an excellent free breakfast and gave us $50. each for meals each day.  You met with us twice a day to discuss how we were going to get home and obviously had extra personnel working with the airlines to make this happen.  I appreciate that you purchased a business class ticket for me and my wife to get back to Seattle.  I realize that it might take some time for us to be fully refunded on a cruise that had to be cancelled, I can live with that because I know that Holland America is a class operation.

Sincerely, 

Ray and Sara Newell

5-Star Mariners

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1 hour ago, KirkNC said:

Yea, spoken like someone who has $0 at risk.

 

Personally, there's not  lot I trust about HAL's ability to run an efficient and effective company.

LOL.....  Sure.   We were on a NCL cruise that got shortened from 21 days to 16 in March (and lost 5 stops) ... We are Still waiting for our refund.   Compared with NCL,  HAL runs a SPETACULAR company! 

 

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2 hours ago, KirkNC said:

Yea, spoken like someone who has $0 at risk.

 

Personally, there's not  lot I trust about HAL's ability to run an efficient and effective company.

Well, we have $16K at risk, and I have been one of the small number of people who have been trying to encourage people to understand the big picture, rather than their "give me my money" point of view. Too many people don't understand why a company that suddenly lost 100% of revenue, and suddenly has the exact opposite...the need to refund 4 or 5 months of that 100% lost revenue, isn't just flowing out money (in the form of refunds) like the Mississippi at flood stage. NO company could do that, and no company has done it yet. Plus they have continuing expenses, although significantly smaller, operating expenses.

 

Probably some of those same people were the same ones that were screaming at the top of their lungs that no cruise line should get a bailout, a viewpoint that I agree with, by the way, but think the cruise lines are sitting on many billions in cash, doing nothing, and should just pay that non-existent money out. 

 

Its easy to say what companies "should" do, because that doesn't require having any idea of how companies operate, or how the financial world functions. NO COMPANY, of any kind or in any sector of the business world, has the kind of reserves required to meet the situation the cruise lines are in. The airlines got a bailout, but, in my case, I am waiting "3 to 4 weeks" for refunds on my cancelled flights.

 

Financially, too many people are treating this as "oh a hurricane canceled our cruise ALONE" and where is my money? It is so far beyond that, there isn't a scale to measure it. Remember, this is an event nobody alive has seen before. But when it comes to MY MONEY, all commonsense disappears.

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37 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

Well, we have $16K at risk, and I have been one of the small number of people who have been trying to encourage people to understand the big picture, rather than their "give me my money" point of view. Too many people don't understand why a company that suddenly lost 100% of revenue, and suddenly has the exact opposite...the need to refund 4 or 5 months of that 100% lost revenue, isn't just flowing out money (in the form of refunds) like the Mississippi at flood stage. NO company could do that, and no company has done it yet. Plus they have continuing expenses, although significantly smaller, operating expenses.

 

Probably some of those same people were the same ones that were screaming at the top of their lungs that no cruise line should get a bailout, a viewpoint that I agree with, by the way, but think the cruise lines are sitting on many billions in cash, doing nothing, and should just pay that non-existent money out. 

 

Its easy to say what companies "should" do, because that doesn't require having any idea of how companies operate, or how the financial world functions. NO COMPANY, of any kind or in any sector of the business world, has the kind of reserves required to meet the situation the cruise lines are in. The airlines got a bailout, but, in my case, I am waiting "3 to 4 weeks" for refunds on my cancelled flights.

 

Financially, too many people are treating this as "oh a hurricane canceled our cruise ALONE" and where is my money? It is so far beyond that, there isn't a scale to measure it. Remember, this is an event nobody alive has seen before. But when it comes to MY MONEY, all commonsense disappears.

So, what do you consider to be an appropriate time to wait for a refund? 90 days, 120 days, 180 days? At some point there has to be an endpoint, preferably before bankruptcy. What are we supposed to do?

Currently we're at 55 days and counting, after being told it would be 5-7 business days for 50% refund, then 30 days, then 60. And we're supposed to get a 50% FCC to use this year or next. I'm not sure we'll ever see that.

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18 minutes ago, TriumphGuy said:

So, what do you consider to be an appropriate time to wait for a refund? 90 days, 120 days, 180 days? At some point there has to be an endpoint, preferably before bankruptcy. What are we supposed to do?

Currently we're at 55 days and counting, after being told it would be 5-7 business days for 50% refund, then 30 days, then 60. And we're supposed to get a 50% FCC to use this year or next. I'm not sure we'll ever see that.

Yup, I totally agree with you. HAL devotees can donate their money to help out their beloved cruise family during bk process.

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47 minutes ago, TriumphGuy said:

So, what do you consider to be an appropriate time to wait for a refund? 90 days, 120 days, 180 days? At some point there has to be an endpoint, preferably before bankruptcy. What are we supposed to do?

Currently we're at 55 days and counting, after being told it would be 5-7 business days for 50% refund, then 30 days, then 60. And we're supposed to get a 50% FCC to use this year or next. I'm not sure we'll ever see that.

Others have mentioned the contract you agree to says 120 days. But how about we at least wait the 60 days mentioned? Ours is May 13.

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28 minutes ago, Janet76 said:

Yup, I totally agree with you. HAL devotees can donate their money to help out their beloved cruise family during bk 

Rather than calling me a "devotee ", how about getting an idea of what is going on in the world? As I asked you before...were you truly planning for, and ready for, a financial calamity never before seen? It's easy to say any company should have reserves for total and complete loss of revenue for months, but in what world is that a real expectation?  Please cite real and factual examples. 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

Others have mentioned the contract you agree to says 120 days. But how about we at least wait the 60 days mentioned? Ours is May 13.

I'd have to reread the contract but it would seem to me that if a person cancels (not the company), that contract would be void. I'm probably wrong because that would favor the customer and we all know how that works.: )

But I can wait another week, at that point it will be over 60 days. Then I guess I'll contact my credit card company and open a dispute.

That's a possible problem too, because I actually paid for the cruise portion in September last year on Discover, but paid for the airfare (through HAL's Flight Ease) this past January on our American Express travel card. So not sure what's going to get refunded where or if it even matters which card was used for what. The TA told us she thought they'd refund to the last card used.

Edited by TriumphGuy

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As to what to do if you have monies at stake, and are not sanguine to simply enjoy "waiting for Godot" for your refund (hint: for those unfamiliar with the play, Godot never appears), even before 60 days you can call your credit card issuer. As a poster on the prior page noted, make sure to "bookmark" your call if the credit card issuer prefers you to wait the 60 days or whatever refund date you were promised. If, however, the issuer is prepared to give you your credit now, go for it. Its your money, after all. Either way, get the name or employee number of the person to whom you speak. Written confirmation is always best.

 

I must disagree, respectfully, with Cruiser Bruce. Contrary to his statements, some posters have noted that other cruise lines are, in some cases, managing to  process refunds, notwithstanding the unprecedented situation. I also disagree that expecting money refunded in a reasonable time when services were not delivered is an example of people "screaming" or is in any way unreasonable. If that poster is prepared to wait, that is his personal decision. If it works for him, great. Yet there is nothing wrong, nor unreasonable, for anyone who needs or simply wants their money back to insist on getting it, and using all legal means to that purpose. Accusing those customers of being unreasonable, is in my view another example of cheerleading.      

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Just a post-script to mine above: on the "Refund Timing" thread, a number of posters are reporting success with refunds/credits applied by their credit card issuer. So, notwithstanding the "unprecedented" nature of the situation, the individual consumers are being made whole, one way or another.

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Perhaps it would alleviate some of the fears of the few "naysayers" in regards to the uninformed statements regarding a future bankruptcy,  If these people were to take the effort to see exactly where CCL sits financially. I  have taken this from US financial sources as of an hour ago, "How much a company is worth (CCL) is typically represented by its market capitalization, or the current stock price multiplied by the number of shares outstanding. Carnival Net Worth as of May1, 2020 is $8.9 BILLION US dollars. I'm sure that I ill be flamed as a "Hal lover", but at least I take the time to get the current facts correct before making statements of pure passion  as I note on this thread.

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One thing not being discussed - HAL HQ are in Seattle, which had one of the earliest, longest and strictest lockdowns in the nation which has brought the city to a standstill.

 

HAL is very much an office oriented company, and not set up for mass amounts of teleworking, especially for functions like reservation accounting and finance which require strict data and network controls.  Making those functions accessible remotely may not be something that can be quickly ramped up.  How many here are in their normal office building working?  I'd venture that the answer would be very, very, very few.  

 

My guess is one of the reasons for the slow pay on Refunds and FCC is due to lack of ability to bring large numbers of staff into the office to do the manual accounting work required.  They have never had to deal with this volume of mass cancellations, let alone at a time when their HQ is most likely significantly understaffed partially because they are mandated to be virtually closed by the government. 

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I hesitate to toss my opinion into the ring because of the fraught nature of the discussion. But since the purpose of this forum is to provide information, here goes. It should be noted that when you file a dispute with your credit card company and it results in the amount in question being credited to your account, it is not the end of the conversation. The creditor (HAL in this case) has 90 days to respond. At this point you exit the land of "Customer Service" and enter the land of "Legal". Whatever documents that you have signed take precedence. Since you took the time to file a dispute, HAL could rightly or wrongly assume that you no longer want to be a customer which would result in them losing interest in making you happy. If you lose the dispute, you could find the charge reinstated to your account and nobody willing to help you. Just pointing this out.

 

While we would like to think that the "unprecedented nature" of the pandemic has overwhelmed the company, any executive worth their salt would be working night and day to know exactly how much money is at stake before they they would relinquish a penny. I would be willing to bet that they already have a full accounting and will release the money on a daily basis once the 60 day ticker starts to roll. Customer service has assured me that they meant "up to" 60 days and not "at least" 60 days. But if you look at the selection form that they asked us to use, it says "approximately" 60 days. Having been in sales most of my life, I love squishy words. We all need to take a deep breath and realize the the customer service people that we talk to are working out of their homes and just trying to survive like everybody else. Please be gentle and nice, We are all in this together.

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I just cancelled a January cruise with a $50 deposit(Black Friday Sale).  Refunds are now 90 days not 60 to 90.

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I got so frustrated waiting for a refund. Called my credit card company and disputed. It was about an hour on the phone because I had paid multiple small payments since Sept 2018. Bottom line, they disputed all of them for a total of over $9000 returned to my card. They said I don't even have to contact HAL, that they would deal with them.

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Thanks, ABoatNerd, for posting that USA Today article on refunds. It shows quite clearly that some cruise lines (like RCL) are doing a better job than others--better communication, better management of customer expectations, and faster processing of refunds. 

 

As for the speculative downside about initiating a dispute with ones credit card issuer as Jakers discussed above, frankly, I don't see it. Because one disputes a charge the company will consider you no longer a customer ever more, especially when HAL, for example, can easily see your Mariner status and cruise history? Doubtful that any cruise line would write off a potential  future customer, especially when I suspect that customers of cruises will, at least initially once we come through this, be rare and thus treasured.

 

As to being denied your credit card dispute, if you paid for a cruise that the line cancelled--so you did not get what you paid for--I am hard-pressed to see how your claim for a refund wouold in such circumstances be denied. Anything is possible, I guess, but again, there is nothing wrong in calling your credit card issuer and asking the questions, and bookmarking your claim if you choose to do so.

 

    

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I posted similar on another thread, but it appears at least with the Casino program they are working to generate more cash to use now.

 

The offer we received the other day was for a 'free interior stateroom' with modest upgrade costs to go all the way up to a Neptune, on a laundry list of itineraries through spring 2021.  There was an itinerary I was interested in, so I reached out to my PCC to get pricing.

 

The 'free' interior stateroom  requires a $200pp payment up front.  This will then show up as OBC at the time of the sailing...so if two people take advantage of the free stateroom the cost is $200pp now, plus the taxes and port fees (always have to pay those for a free trip)...then a total of $400 OBC ($200pp) when you sail.  

 

Reserving a verandah or suite (the categories I was more interested in) also have the $200pp 'deposit now' requirement, but the same OBC at time of sailing.

 

Essentially, this helps give them cash flow now.  It's me, a future passenger, funding my OBC account now.

 

 

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19 hours ago, Flying-Dragon said:

 

Yes - I did and 11 days later I had the full amounts credited on my Visa - 2 cruises and shore excursion prepayments.  As I explained to the Visa disputes advisor, the warning bells for me were:  

 

1.  no communications from HAL as this evolved (port closures, border closures, flight cancellations, yet no decision or updates);  

2.  heavy emphasis on future credit instead of cash refund; and  

3.  long 60 day time frame for a cash refund.  

 

I told them this is what one sees when a business is going under, and whether that happens or not, I wasn't going to get caught in the middle.  They advised me that I was completely right to call Visa, and they would deal with it.

Were your 2 cruises cancelled by HAL or not yet cancelled?

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We're at a little over 30 days now since cancelling.  I personally wouldn't have a big problem waiting another 30-60 days if i had any confidence that anything would change in that timeframe.  Right now it seems like we're waiting just so we can say we waited the prescribed timeframe without any real expectations of something happening.

 

If the cruise lines don't have the cash on hand to make refunds today, what is likely to change about that situation in the next 60 days?

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1 hour ago, Bob7 said:

Were your 2 cruises cancelled by HAL or not yet cancelled?

Thanks for posting your view.  We are not going to be caught in the middle.  It’s obvious that CCL don’t have cash flow to give us prompt refund.  Others who have different take on this is not wrong or right. Its their decision and their money. 

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On 5/2/2020 at 7:50 AM, nyceve said:

Mr. Ashford, where are our refunds?

 

Based on what I read, it seems that almost no one who booked and paid for a cruise on HAL which was cancelled has yet received a refund.

 

Many of us are senior citizens living on a fixed income.  HAL has not communicated with us by email or otherwise, and your woefully stressed customer service representatives are reduced to giving rote responses about long delayed refunds. This is unacceptable.

 

You are hoolding our money.  Your guests are not a bank for Holland America.

 

This is the worst corporate debacle I have ever encountered. With each passing day, you risk losing your loyal customers due to this egregious behavior.

 

Mr. Ashford, we need our refunds NOW

 

Like the airlines they will drag on the refunds any way shape and how.  They got your $$$$ and need to keep it desperately.

 

They got no income, only bills and huge loans due, though they got billions in new credit their balance sheets are the $hits so any real cold cash they go they want to hold.

 

Even payments that are FCC are better on the balance sheet than paying you, say so long.. this is just like the airlines getting your money back was always hard, now even harder.

 

Claim reduced staff ( phones always busy ), never returned mail, pretty standard tactics...

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Posted (edited)

I would not expect refunds to start flowing until the 90-120 day window.   Until then.....lots and lots of promises,  feel good statements that contain zero commitments or real data.     

 

Plus the usual cruise cheerleaders who somehow believe that it is OK to delay refunds and that doing so will make a difference as to how HAL and the others come out of this.   Would not matter to me if it was HAL or any other cruise line.   Being on an unsecured creditors list is not what I would call a desired attribute of cruise line loyalty. 

 

I look at this through the lens of a former business person.  If this were a receivable I would be doing everything in my power to get payment sooner than later or to dispute a credit card charge.

 

 I also believe that the cruise lines that do come out of this will look very different than they did before this crisis.

Edited by iancal

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I think filing a dispute and getting a chargeback from credit card company is the only remaining solution.  If HAL and the other cruise companies were handling this in a more transparent fashion, they might have avoided a blizzard of chargebacks. 

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