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An Evening of Food, Folklore and Fairies with Irish Folk Tours

Because of COVID19, my husband and I had to cancel a tour we were going to take to Ireland with Rick Steves, Europe. One of the activities we had booked was the Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies with Irish Folk Tours. After our trip was canceled we also tried to cancel our Irish Folk Tour reservation and had lots of trouble. FYI, it has been months, many emails, and long distance phone calls to try and get a refund. I was told this morning that if I wanted a refund they could not do so through my credit card, I would have to send them my banking information, and they would refund my money through my bank account.

Refunding customer money this way struck me as odd, very risky, and I wasn't about to give Irish Folk Tours my banking information. Johnny, the manager (I think), talked my ear off in trying to get me to do this but I didn't feel okay with just giving my bank account particulars to someone I don't even know. The long and the short of it is, I won't be getting a refund of my money.

My advice is to be careful when doing business with this company. I don't know what their gig is, but it made me uncomfortable and I'm out $100+!

Posted by
1240 posts

This is the same information they would have had if you had paid them by check. It is all printed on the bottom of every check. (it is those funny looking numbers).

Posted by
6081 posts

I think that interbank transfers are a normal way of business in Europe, in lieu of writing checks which is still common in the US. I would think having your credit card information is just as much a risk.

Posted by
3789 posts

It is common practice. Basically, he is asking to do a bank transfer. What is going to cut into your $100 is your bank's charges to put it into your account. I know it feels frustrating after months of trying, but it might be cheaper for him to send a transfer than maintain the merchant fees for credit card transactions. In North America, these are part of pricing. Elsewhere, it is a privilege you often have to pay for to cover their merchant costs.
You now have a choice. Either accept new way of dealing with the refund or miss a dinner out and consider the money lost as helping a business keep afloat.

Posted by
2651 posts

I attended this performance/dinner when in Dublin a few years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit, so despite the OP's experience I would recommend it.

I looked at the website to see what it says about refunds for tickets. On the ticket purchase page it says this:

You may cancel your booking up to 48 hours in advance of the booked
date. A full refund will be given in such cases.

So, to the OP, I'm sorry you had to put so much effort into getting a refund, though I'm glad the company ultimately agreed to do so. I will add my voice to those saying the company's refund method is common practice in Europe.

Posted by
655 posts

Similarly, I wouldn't sweat it.

I went to this show on my arrival day in Dublin (jet lagged). Very enjoyable. There was a group of high school fiddlers from Calgary in town that night. They performed for us along with the Irish performers and story-tellers.

Posted by
90 posts

jnknst, it's a shame that the tour company refused to issue a refund to your original
method of payment, your credit card. Yes, of course they could have done so, if they had wanted to. The same credit card terminal that processes sales can also process refunds.

Still, you made a very wise decision not to provide your bank account details. Yes, as someone mentioned, they're the same pair of numbers that appear at the bottom of a check — which is why paying by check is also risky. With your bank's ABA/routing number and your bank account number, people can attempt unauthorized ACH debits.

Someone also commented that providing a credit card number is just as risky. That is false (as long as we're talking about a credit card, not a debit card).

An unauthorized credit card transaction does not affect your bank balance. It cannot precipitate an overdraft, unpaid checks, overdraft fees from the bank, and penalties from the holders of unpaid checks. Though a bank will investigate unauthorized ACH debits, it could take weeks before the funds are replaced. The bank might be persuaded to reverse its own overdraft fees, but it will not reimburse penalties charged by holders of unpaid checks.

Americans have stronger practical and legal protections when an unauthorized credit card transaction occurs, than when an unauthorized ACH debit occurs.

Last but not least, never provide any payment details by e-mail. (I'm not sure whether the tour company asked you to provide your bank account details over the phone or by e-mail, but I wanted to address the risk of using e-mail, just in case.) E-mail is unencrypted, and an e-mail message passes through numerous servers on its journey to the recipient. The owners of any of those servers can copy payment details. Once an e-mail message arrives, it is likely to be stored on an unencrypted disk, and/or in a cloud-based e-mail account with a weak password. Who knows who might be able to access the message?

Posted by
167 posts

Dear Jnknst

Yes Congac, I agree the American banking system is behind the times and open to fraud and intrusion. I concur with your observations on email. Setting that aside, I offer the following experience to jnknst, and expand on Stan’s comments on cheques
.
Interbank account transfer is the standard method of business in the great south land and our neighbouring islands. In fact, our federal government ceased mailing paper cheques from 2016. A big cost saving. The state and territory governments have followed. Most businesses have followed this lead. If someone wishes to receive a pension, tax refund or other government benefit one needs to provide their bank BSB and account number to the appropriate agency. The businesses I deal with all ask for bank details. I do the same thing, bonus points aside, better than credit card. Minimal to no fees. Monies directly into the account. In my opinion and experience can be a more secure method than credit card. I have not written a cheque for 6 years and last received a mailed dividend cheque 4 years ago. All my dividends are paid directly into the appropriate bank accounts. Business payments are made directly into the appropriate bank accounts. Never had an issue with overseas transactions. Have no fear of providing bank details to most countries in the western world, USA excepted. I recommend to all the businesses I mentor, to religiously check the bank accounts at least every second day. Like any banking transaction caution is needed and one must be confident in understanding the systems.

I am aware that the USA has been extremely slow in using this technology. Cannot understand why physical cheques are still used. Slow and not all that secure. From a business viewpoint has been a good productivity gain. Easy to implement. Fear and change are a social issue.

Most businesses on my tin pot little island now, because of the virus, have signs up requesting electronic funds transfer. Not a problem as I have been using debit cards for at least 10 years, and so have my fellow citizens. A way of life. No new virus cases for the last 45 or so days. Cash is the domain of drug dealers, criminals, and corrupt politicians.

In the end, the choice is yours. In reality, mind over modernity and advancement.

Stay safe. Be kind to all mankind.
Regards
Ron

Posted by
14415 posts

Could you just open a temporary account in another bank? It would be worth it to me to go through the time and hassle for $100. AFAIK it doesn't cost anything to open an account, then close it after the money arrives and you withdraw it.

Posted by
7723 posts

This is how transactions are commonly handled in Europe. In fact, some countries don't even print checks anymore. The problem for Americans is that our banks handle it like wire transfers and charge a lot of money. This issue comes up, or used to come up, when people were asked to send deposits via transfer. The US is behind on this just as it was on chipped credit cards, about twenty years behind.

I don't know if the OP will even read these explanations or if she(maybe he) just wanted to warn us to "be careful when doing business with this company."

Posted by
26074 posts

she.

Jane.

I wonder if Jane ever got the $100 overcharge back from the hostel in London on a previous trip?

Posted by
19207 posts

I agree that refund by bank transfer wouldn't especially scare me, but on a $100 refund, the banking fees would be a very big issue, assuming the company would actually be issuing said refund in euros.

I suggest that the OP call his bank to find out what it would charge to process a refund of 88 euros. With that information, the OP can contact contact the tour operator again and explain that the fees would eat up way too large a percentage of the refund and as for a credit-card refund of somewhat less than the full amount so the operator's credit-card fee is covered. Perhaps they can compromise on 80 euros.

Another possibility would be to check out TransferWise, which several people on the forum (not I) have used to make online payments to European entities to cover advance bookings for rental apartments or pay traffic fines. TransferWise's fees are very low. I don't know how it works; I suspect you must supply your bank-account info to TransferWise if not to the tour operator.