DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: In February 2020, I bought two Britrail England Flexi Passes through ACP Rail, a travel agency specializing in rail passes.
A year later, it became clear that we would not use the passes. Since they were refundable, I asked ACP for a refund. It agreed to take the tickets back, and in February 2021, I mailed the tickets back to the company.
I never got the money.
I checked with ACP multiple times. Whenever I did, it would send me emails that said “due to government restrictions,” its offices were closed. It blamed the closure on a delay in processing our refund. “We will follow up and confirm as soon as possible,” they promised. But I never received a confirmation.
As I write this, it is November 2021 — almost two years after I bought my Britrail passes — and I still haven’t received the $558 that ACP Rail promised me. I read your column about another ACP case and was hoping you could help me get a refund.
— Katherine Spokes, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
ANSWER: Did you say ACP Rail had your money for almost two years? That’s got to be some kind of record. In case you’re just joining us, a refund should take no more than a week. The best companies can do it in a few minutes. two years? Where’s that number for Guinness?
Before I get to the resolution on your case, l want to acknowledge the many emails I’ve received from readers about pandemic refund cases. You are done with them, you say — and I hear you. So am I! I think this may be our last one. Two years really is a record. And besides, we have a lot of other problems to solve for travelers, don’t we?
You were way too patient with your online agency and Britrail. I list the Britrail executive contacts on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/britrail/. I would have reached out to them — politely — and asked them for a refund. Alternatively, you could have contacted your credit card issuer to see if they would allow you to dispute the charge. A good credit card company would have fought for you to receive a prompt refund. A written promise to return the money would be viewed as a credit memo by some credit card dispute departments, and you would have received your money quickly.
I don’t know why it took ACP Rail so long. It looks as if your Britrail passes were refundable. According to the terms (www.britrail.com/britrail-passes/eligibility-conditions-of-use/), you had 11 months from the date of issue to request a full refund, unless your travel agent specified other terms, which it didn’t. You were within the refund window. Maybe ACP’s offices were closed for a while during the initial outbreak, but it was still accepting reservations, which means it was still in business. And if it’s in business, it can issue a timely refund.
I contacted ACP Rail on your behalf. A representative responded that it had “already” issued your refund, suggesting that it would have returned your money without asking me. The next day, the money landed in your account. whatever. I’m just glad you have your refund, finally.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or email@example.com.