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Overseas Adventure Travel

OAT canceled all September 2020 departures as of today (July 15). I called the company to request a full refund for our September Morocco tour just a few minutes ago. I expected to have to argue with them but they were very gracious about it and will issue a full refund to my cc in about 30 days. I was pleasantly surprised. They did offer enticements to get me to reschedule but at this point who knows when travel will be possible again. Perhaps all the bad publicity and angry customer response has had something to do with it or the MA AG a got on their case. At any rate, their response today will certainly color my decision as to whether to book with them in the future. They did the right thing.

Posted by
1185 posts

Good to hear. I am one of those who had to fight to get their refund. Maybe my (and a chorus of others) complaint to the MA Attorney Generals Office did some good.

Posted by
103 posts

Glad to hear that you had an easy go of it! We had a tour with Gate 1 to Canada in June that was cancelled by the company and then our flights were cancelled by United as well. We had purchased our flights through Gate 1 along with the tour. I only had to call them once and request that they obtain a refund from the airline since our flights were cancelled, and I also requested a refund from Gate 1. The agent was polite and friendly and said she could certainly do that for me. I received the refund from United in a week and Gate 1 in two weeks. I never even had to contact United.

On June 30 we had our trip (also with Gate 1 in October) to Greece cancelled. A couple of days later AA cancelled our flights. Again, I made one call to Gate 1, asked the friendly agent for refunds, and never had to call the airline.

Neither time did I receive any hesitation about requesting a refund. They immediately said yes and didn't try to entice me to leave my money with them as a future travel credit or to book with them for next year. I was impressed both times with the way they handled my calls.

Posted by
8009 posts

That's great to hear, Mary. I suspect you've already put a note on your calendar to check progress in 30 days. It's been interesting to see the experiences from Bob and also on the other forum about the post-AG contact experience so perhaps they (and some of the other tour companies) are now doing the right thing.

Let us know when you get your refund?

Posted by
1075 posts

Thanks, Pam. I think there have been a lot of squeaky wheels on this with OAT and I benefited. So thanks to Bob and all who went to bat with them before me. I have definitely calendared this. So far we have been lucky with refunds on our trips booked for this year. RS fully refunded us for the two canceled Italy tours for this past May. I have a small voucher ($100) from Alitalia and a voucher from Travel Guard which is good for two years. I can’t complain as others have not been so fortunate and are out $$$.

Posted by
4410 posts

Glad you got an acceptable outcome. We were going to schedule a safari trip with OAT for next year, but hadn’t gotten around to arranging for payment or actually scheduling the trip, before the pandemic hit. We’ll be using OAT when it becomes feasible. Thanks for the update on their response to your request, Mary. May you be able to see Morocco in the future - our January 2019 visit was tremendous!

Posted by
1075 posts

Thanks, Cyn. But I will definitely be looking at the cancelation policies a lot more carefully in the future as well as how the various tour companies have handled this situation. Take a look at Odysseys Unlimited for your safari. We have been to Africa with them twice and both trips were fabulous. You get what you pay for. And Odysseys refunded their customers money promptly for their canceled trips. It is what a good company does. They stand by their product and their customers. Just saying.

Posted by
1075 posts

James, I am promoting them now because they did the right thing but there have been a lot of complaints and very bad press up to this point about OAT. I think they finally got religion so to speak. It all comes down to customer service. I have traveled with a lot of tour companies in the past ten years and most do the right thing without being asked. Nat Geo/Lindblad, RS and Odysseys to name a few. They get five stars from me for customer service. They want happy customers and know that word of mouth goes a long way these days.

Posted by
8009 posts

"Or maybe there are just honest decent people who know the long term value of good service?"

Not so much, James. Having followed the stories on the Trip Advisor Senior Forum with people getting refused refunds from this company until people started contacting the Massachusetts Attorney General and Better Business Bureau I'd say they are finally doing what their policies said in the first place.

I'd also encourage people to print out the refund policy at the time you book your trip. This pandemic has shown that some companies will change policies at the sign of trouble and then try to back out of what they had promised initially.

Posted by
1075 posts

They also got some bad press in the Seattle Times. I am promoting them now as they finally did the right thing.

Posted by
24882 posts

They haven't completely done the right thing until the promised money arrives in your card. 30 days is a long time.

Please let us know when the money actually gets there....

Posted by
1075 posts

Thanks, Nigel. I will repost. I try to believe the best of people and have faith in them until they prove otherwise.

Posted by
8009 posts

Mary, I can't find it now but in addition to the Seattle Times, I think OAT got called out in a travel or financial column as well...maybe from NY? I suspect that helped as well.

Posted by
191 posts

Glad to hear OAT is refunding cancelled trips. They have been my go to company for trips outside Europe. Always thought the tours were very good. Have been hesitant to book travel under the current conditions, but just like most on this site I am chomping at the bit to book a future trip.

Posted by
2402 posts

They put a lot of people through the wringer. Glad they seemed to come around for you, hope you see the promised money. But I’d never book with them based on what I’ve read.

Posted by
1075 posts

Honestly, Alan. I debated about whether to book with them but they had a really good itinerary for Morocco and with the pre and post extensions we would have seen all that we wanted to see there.

Posted by
2510 posts

Mary, nice to hear that you are promised a full refund from OAT. Thanks for sharing your story. Like you, Travel Guard issued us a voucher with an expiration in 2 years. All the best to you for a future journey to Morocco. Sounds wonderful!

Posted by
1075 posts

James, I am not sure why it takes 30 days for a refund but I have run into this before with refunds from other companies so I wasn’t too concerned. I am giving OAT the benefit of the doubt at this time.

Posted by
1169 posts

OAT and Grand Circle have many complaints over the years with the BBB. I’ve done three trips with them over a few decades with no issue, fortunately.

Posted by
1075 posts

Update - I just received an email from Allianz that the travel insurance premium portion of the total is being refunded. I also looked at my OAT account and it is showing a negative balance due. But as Nigel says until the money is in my account, I will stay on top of it.

Posted by
1391 posts

I had a trip with OAT schedule for an early October departure. Payment in full would have come due last week. I called two weeks ago to request a reschedule to next year. I got through to a real person within about 3 minutes, and she was very helpful, looking through all the possible departure dates to find one that would work for me.

If things next fall are still dicey, I will have the option to postpone again to 2022.

Since all I've paid is a $350 down-payment, I'm not concerned and didn't feel the need to press for a refund. I certainly understand why someone who'd paid in full might be more eager to get cash back, but I just hope the company is still around next year after having to cancel all their departures this year.

I think pretty much every tour company in existence has some good and bad reviews. And I certainly understand why people whose trips were canceled would be upset about not getting a refund. (I believe they tried to work around the rule by "postponing" trips rather than "canceling.") And if they have changed their policy in response to the bad PR they got, good for them. Better late than never!

Posted by
1075 posts

Hi Lane,

I agree that if all I had shelled out was $350 I wouldn’t mind postponing. But we were out of pocket nearly $2,400 (deposit, insurance and seat upgrade). They offered us a good deal to reschedule but who knows if they will be around next year or if we will. Would we have to get in line with all the other bankruptcy creditors to recoup cents on the dollar? Or would they then up the price of the tour and negate the “good” deal? But I wish OAT well and am happy they are finally doing the right thing by (some of) their customers.

Posted by
1185 posts

If I "only" had been out $2400 I would not have fought as hard as I did to get our refund. OAT owed us $22,000.

Posted by
6 posts

It will take a long while for me, my husband, and another couple we travel with to trust OAT with our travel money. After reading The NY Times article on the Sunday before Memorial Day, we called immediately to cancel a trip made just the day before. The NYT noted that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office had over 400 (!) customer complaints at that time. We immediately called to cancel and were told we would lose our deposit of nearly $1800. Fortunately, we, and the other couple, were able to stop payment on our checks before they cleared. Lesson learned.

Posted by
1075 posts

@andersonfamil78

I think that OAT has done a lot of damage to their reputation. I am glad you got your money back.

Posted by
4410 posts

So treat yourselves to dinner with some of your refund money, even if you fix it yourselves, and you can call it an OATmeal! 😋

Posted by
39 posts

Hi Mary,
We may have been scheduled for the same Morocco tour! We were originally scheduled for April 3, 2020. I called Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) On March 13th to determine our options (they had not yet canceled our April 2020 tour). They told me that we could reschedule so I rescheduled for September 28, 2020. As time went by, I was very disappointed in the way they were rescheduling tours for next year as opposed to giving refunds. Over time, I was sent an email telling me that we would receive an extra $500 each for rescheduling with them. This amount appeared in our account information. As time moved forward we realized that we would not be comfortable traveling to Morocco this fall so I reviewed our contract. The contract stipulated that we could cancel more than 90 days out and only lose $300 each. OAT had not yet cancelled their tours through September so I went with that option. After calling them they agreed to refund all of our payments except this $300 each. Exactly 30 days after the call, our account invoice with OAT was cleared out including the extra credit they gave us for rescheduling. I did not receive an email or any other communication from them indicating the refund went through. I eventually called them when the refund did not appear on my credit card and they assured me that it was accomplished. One week afterwards the refund appeared on my credit card! I’ve wanted to visit Morocco for a long time and was looking forward to the trip. If we reschedule, I think I will explore other travel options.

Posted by
1075 posts

Thanks, Cindy. We were scheduled to leave Aug. 29 for Morocco and return Sept. 26. We were going to do the main tour as well as the pre and post extension as it would cover just about everything we wanted to see. OAT had the best itinerary for Morocco that we had seen although I was not happy with them adding extra fees for some of the optional excursions. But we had never traveled with them before so we thought we would give them a go. I called them to ask for a refund the minute they canceled our tour. We have a couple more weeks before the refund is supposed to come through. I am still waiting to see what happens with that. We will all be looking at travel companies and airlines more carefully in the future and how they handled this crisis. Perhaps some of these companies are starting to realize the bad press will hurt them more in the long run than the refunds in the short term.

Posted by
1185 posts

It is too bad that OAT has this refund problem (I wrote about my troubles with them above) as they are one of the best tour companies I have traveled with. For tour content and guides, I feel they are on the same level as RS tours. I do not like their tipping and excursion costs. They have more long tours, especially when you add on the extensions, and cover the area/country more thoroughly than most other companies (I want to travel at least 30 days at a time). Yes, I have done RS tours back to back. I have been looking around for another tour company but have not found one that has itineraries as good as OAT. I have done independent travel in the past, but because of my age (too old) I am having troubles renting cars in Europe.

Posted by
6 posts

Buyer beware! From reading online reviews I’d be very skeptical about any assurances OAT is providing its customers. As recently as August 8, 2020 there are customer reviews noting very recent deviations/backtracking by OAT of their own policies and contracts.

Posted by
191 posts

I would not pay for any travel costs in today’s Covid paranoia sp? All tour companies are feeling the monetary pressure. We keep hearing stories of refund problems after all these months. My 5 OAT tours were great but I still would not let them bank 1000’s of my dollars. That includes airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc.

Posted by
1075 posts

Our refund was due to us by August 15. The following is the response that I received from OAT this morning to my email inquiring about my refund.

“I am very sorry you have yet to receive your funds in the expected time frame originally given by OAT. We have been experiencing major delays, forcing us to extend our previous agreements. Today, I forwarded your information to our finance team to track the status of your $2398.00 refund.“

I was hopeful that they were going to do the right thing when they promised to refund our money. I will be calling them Monday morning.

Posted by
8009 posts

Thanks for the update Mary. I suspect they will not be paying interest on your "loan" to them....

Posted by
1391 posts

It must be extraordinarily difficult to be a travel service provider right now. You've lost all your hope for revenue this year, you have customers wanting refunds, and you want to stay in business so you can provide your services again when travel is possible. If you have to declare bankruptcy, none of your customers will get refunds, and those who have paid for future trips will be out of luck and will lose their deposits as well, plus your employees will be out of work and your life's work (and all the money you've invested into your company) will be gone.

Mary, I hope you get your refund, and I'm sorry OAT has not been able to meet the deadline they agreed to. But I do think we would all benefit from some forbearance right now. These are not normal times.

Posted by
1075 posts

Lane,

OAT owes us a considerable amount of money. If it were just the deposit, I would be more patient. I am posting on this forum as a warning to others about this company. My fear is that they will file bankruptcy and a lot of us will be left holding the bag. Rick Steves and Odysseys Unlimited have done the right thing by their customers and issued refunds. They will be getting my business in the future. If these two companies can do the right thing, then why can’t OAT?

Posted by
18154 posts

Not all companies are equally financially healthy. Aren't OATs tours somewhat less expensive than the others? Perhaps they operate on a thinner profit margin and simply have less money in the bank.

I'd be frustrated, too, and worried that I might not get my money back, but the fact is that they may simply not have the money needed to repay everyone in full right now.

Posted by
8009 posts

I agree with Mary although I have not traveled with OAT thus lost no money with them. They have been given plenty of time and deserve no more forbearance. Here is an article from the end of May in the NY times regarding refunds. I don't have a subscription and can access it so it should be accessible to others.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/25/travel/coronavirus-refunds-overseas-adventure-travel.html?smid=fb-share&fbclid=IwAR1l6Evy9gi6NjG3Bjudne5Qu4UOns2g_EVbq2EsESRzL_gtGr_kYZP0R5o

Here's a link to a Seattle Times article from the end of June on Grand Circle tours with is the parent company of OAT.

https://www.seattletimes.com/life/travel/grand-circle-travel-rescheduled-a-canceled-trip-without-asking-its-customer-what-about-a-refund-travel-troubleshooter/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Evening+Brief+06-22-20_6_22_2020&utm_term=Active%20subscriber

There is a thread going on the Trip Advisor Senior forum with many people posting they have not received refunds for trips OAT cancelled.

Posted by
3044 posts

"Or maybe there are just honest decent people who know the long term value of good service?"

Pointing out what I have learned with school trips: The actual clients are the school employees who select the tour company and then accompany the trip (Hawaii! Costa Rica! Ireland! Prague!) at someone else's expense, namely students' funds. And any partial refund is someone else's problem. The people who actually put the money up for the trip, the families, are transient and not "real" clients. The tour company can crap all over the families knowing that these students will graduate and move on, and that the school employees will still rehire them for tours in the future. There is no free market check on the tour company's bad behavior. Families only recourse is an appeal to the school board and are subject to their "2 minute rule" for public comments. Try explaining the impossibility of a timeline or the insincerity of an email exchange in 2 minutes.

Posted by
24882 posts

how about a series of parents who have rehearsed and all get on the speakers list, telling the story in a series of 2 minute speeches? If each of the parents knew each of the parts, the chair couldn't mess them around by calling them out of order.....

worth trying?

Posted by
3044 posts

Nigel: Well, a married couple can get 4 minutes. In reference to my lawsuit post weeks ago deleted by the moderators for liability reasons: I am just today mailing in the court filing. The forum/moderator suggestion to try Elliot.org was not (yet) helpful. Even 2 months after requested help we have not heard if they are even interested. So first we try to get the remainder refunded, then go to the school board later. But frankly for other families not familiar with travel they aren't angry because they don't know how much they were had, and how much school employees contributed to the adverse outcome. Also I have work access to contracting officers who can rapidly spell out what was supposed to happen and how far our experience varied from the norm.

Incidentally, no one mentioned in my previous post something key: small claims court filings can only happen in the county where the tour business is located, so that's a huge wildcard that fortunately works out for me since I live there. Also state requirements/procedures are so drastically different that a national appeal for advice isn't very helpful: much of the legal advice I got here was incorrect for my state. Examples of things that vary: statute of limitations, maximum claim, whether lawyers are allowed in the courtroom, and if the county will serve the defendant the summons for you at no charge.

Posted by
1075 posts

Update - I had hoped that OAT was going to do the right thing and refund my money. Silly me. It is now two months since the promised refund. I have continued to call and they keep pushing the date for the refund forward. First it was 45 days and now they are saying 90 days so mid-October. I contacted the Elliott Advocacy group and they are going to bat for me. We will see how that goes. I still have legal ammunition if necessary.

Posted by
6202 posts

Sorry to hear this, Mary. Were treated very rudely by OAT when we called to make a reservation. We had a few Very reasonable questions we wanted answered. That was the end of us and OAT.
On our COVID canceled trips, we have received 100% refunds in a relatively short time from all companies.

Posted by
1075 posts

Hi Tammy,

Yes, we finally got a full refund. Thanks for asking. I believe I posted that we got the refund on the forum quite a number of months ago.

Posted by
7119 posts

You did make a separate topic about the refund...... just not readily apparent it was tied to this one