Iconic Canadian train ride refusing refunds for passengers
TORONTO -- The Rocky Mountaineer is a world famous train ride through the Rockies and Western Canada, but if you bought a ticket to take it this year don’t expect a refund.
"I've always been sort of a train fan since I was a child," Michael Leibman of Cape Town, South Africa, told CTV News Toronto.
Leibman planned to visit his sister Jennifer Siegel in Toronto in June and then fly west to take a train ride with the Rocky Mountaineer through Alberta and British Columbia before boarding an Alaskan cruise ship for the last part of his trip.
All that changed due to COVID-19.
The train portion of Leibman’s trip was $8,000. According to the Rocky Mountaineer's refund policy it would hold back 20 per cent of the funds and refund Leibman 80 per cent of what he paid in advance for the trip.
"I thought I will cancel because the condition of cancellation said a 20 per cent deposit is what you forfeit if you cancel," Leibman said. "They need to refund me the 80 percent which is what was in their agreement."
The Rocky Mountaineer suspended its entire train schedule for 2020 due to the pandemic, and is not not offering refunds, just credits for a future trip.
"The pandemic…is a force majeure event, beyond the control of Rocky Mountaineer. Guests who had their departures suspended received a travel credit of 110 per cent, which can be used to rebook travel to a date in 2021 or 2022," a spokesperson for the Rocky Mountaineer told CTV News Toronto.
Leibman says an airline and cruise ship that were also part of his trip will give him a refund just not the Rocky Mountaineer.
“The ship is prepared to refund the money. Emirates (the airline) is prepared to refund the money. Only the train won't budge. I feel it is unethical to change a policy when you have already made an agreement,” Leibman said.
Leibman said he tried to book dates with the train for next year but was told they were not available and he's concerned he might lose the $8,000 he paid for the train trip.
Rocky Mountaineer said the pandemic has been difficult for everyone and that it had to lay off half of its year round work force.
There is a Facebook group with about 200 customer seeking refunds of hundreds of thousands of dollars.