In February, my husband and I booked a Virgin cruise for November 2022 through the Imagine Cruising agent and paid £1,988.
But hours later we realized we had accidentally booked for November 2023.
We emailed Imagine to cancel the next morning but it said we could not get a refund and could only move the booking to new dates which would incur a £1500 administration fee.
We will not be able to travel on those dates in 2023 as it is our grandson’s bar mitzvah.
Error: LD and her husband booked a vacation online, but accidentally chose November 2023 as the date instead of November 2022
We wonder why there was no ‘cooling off’ period for the booking – isn’t this pretty standard?
We would like the money back or a credit for the full amount so that we can rebook.
We don’t mind paying a fee as this was our mistake but an extra £1,500 on a £2,000 holiday is excessive – especially as the company will have no problem reselling our cabin on a notice almost two years. Can you help? LD, via email
Helen Crane of This is Money replies: You told me you had been “so excited” to book the cruise as you and your husband hadn’t been away for over three years during the pandemic, and it was a special trip to celebrate both of your 70th birthdays.
But that excitement quickly turned to horror when you received the booking confirmation email and realized you had accidentally paid for a trip in November 2023 – not November 2022 as you planned.
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It’s a stupid mistake, but I think most of us can relate to that. It should have been easy to fix too, but instead turned into a cruise catastrophe.
The next morning, you sent Imagine an email explaining what had happened and asking for your deposit back so you could rebook – this time for the correct dates.
You thought that when buying products or services online, companies should offer a ‘cooling-off period’, during which the customer can ask for their money back and the company has to give it to them without penalty.
While there is a 14 day cooling off period for most goods and services ordered online, this is not a legal requirement for travel related products such as holiday bookings.
Some holiday providers allow customers a grace period in which to change a booking, often 24 hours, but this is at their discretion.
Lucky for you, Imagine has such a policy – but no one you spoke to at the company seemed to know.
You were initially told that you could reschedule your holiday to another date, but it would have to cost the same or more than the existing trip and that you would also have to pay ‘transfer and change fees’.
Ship slip: Our reader accidentally booked her Virgin cruise for the wrong dates, but agent Imagine Cruising said she’d have to pay £1,500 to change them
You did look at alternative options, but when you asked for more information, it turned out that the costs for rebooking would be € 1,500.
At one point, you mentioned that you were told that the deposit was non-refundable because it had already been “split” between different departments and suppliers of Imagine within days of paying it.
You asked for dates and times when this happened, but they never came.
You finally contacted me in August after six months of trying to get your money back or change the date or your trip.
When I contacted the company, it said there had been a ‘miscommunication from the team here regarding the details of our cancellation policy, which often depend on the specifics of each individual booking’.
The spokesperson continues: ‘We do have a 24-hour cooling-off period, but it was incorrectly applied in this case. Our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused.’
I am pleased to say that Imagine has now refunded your £1,988. It’s also given you a £500 voucher towards a future cruise – although saying you don’t want to book with the company right now, which is fair enough after this deposit drama.
I hope you and your husband finally manage to celebrate your birthdays and that the booking process goes without a hitch this time around.
“Every week I look at the companies that have fallen short when it comes to customer service, and the companies that have gone above and beyond.
Reader Tina wanted to tell me about her trainer trauma when she ordered from MandM Direct, the online discount store for sportswear.
She ordered two pairs of sneakers and some slippers online in March. The sneakers didn’t fit, so she wanted to return them both, for a refund totaling £70.
She returned them via the courier Evri who delivered the package, dropped the package off at a pick-up point at her local gas station, and received a tracking label to prove they had been shipped.
Runaway running shoes: Tina tried to return her sneakers to MandM Direct, but the package ended up in the warehouse of a completely different company
The money for her running shoes should have been returned soon. Eight months later, however, she has not received her money back – and now the trainers seem to have ended up with a completely different company.
Tina has contacted MandM and Evri several times over many months, and both say they do not have the trainers and have never received them.
She also went back to the gas station and made sure the package wasn’t lost there.
She has now been told that her package is with a company called Syncreon – a seemingly unrelated logistics company.
However, she has no idea how to get the package from there back to MandM for the refund and is frustrated that it appears to have hit a wall.
Lost case: Tina had a tracking label from Evri showing that she had delivered the package, but MandM never received it
It is unclear how the rogue label got on the package. It could be that the wrong label in the package was sent to Tina, that she misprinted it at home, or that the click-and-collect station could be to blame.
Since I contacted MandM, it has now been ensured that the money has been refunded.
A spokesperson said: ‘After speaking with our courier partner, we discovered when returning its products to MandM Direct, it appears that a non-MandM Direct return label was used, so the items were not returned to MandM Direct but to Syncreon with whom we have no association, so do not have access to these items.
“We have tried to make our returns process as simple as possible by creating a returns portal where customers can access return labels and manage the returns process through the Hermes returns shop.
“We can fully understand that this is frustrating for Tina, but unfortunately the package was sent to the wrong address. But as a goodwill gesture we have refunded the value of the entire order and the return costs.
“We really hope this frustrating experience doesn’t stop her from shopping with us again in the future.”
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