With the coronavirus strain COVID-19 appearing in multiple cities and countries, travel plans are being postponed, or cancelled altogether. Not only travel, but the schedules of large-scale events like sports, music festivals and more are being affected. Many are left wondering what to do about cancelled travels and purchased tickets they can no longer use.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is providing regular updates to the public on its website, which is an excellent resource for staying informed. As officials continue to monitor the developing situation, consumers should plan to stay on their toes. Your Better Business Bureau is here with tips on what to do regarding cancelled and postponed events:
• Contact vendors - In the event of disease or disaster, contact the airline, hotels, cruise line or resort you were using to plan your vacation. They can inform you if their area or normal procedures have been affected, and if you can receive a full or partial refund or even a credit.
• Consider your health risk - Certain groups are more at risk when it comes to COVID-19. According to the CDC, high risk groups include older adults and those with serious chronic illnesses. If you fall into one of these groups, you may decide it is in your best interest to cancel your trip or refrain from attending an event, even if it means losing money. If you are not in a high-risk category, you may still consider staying home to prevent spreading illness to someone who is high risk.
• Check cancellation policies - If an event is canceled, visit the venue’s website or contact the hosting business to find out the cancelation policy. Refunds, exchanges or rescheduling options may be offered. If the venue is unable to refund your money and the purchase was made on a credit card, you can always contact your credit card company to see if they are able to remove the charge.
• Review ticket and travel insurances - If you purchased travel or ticket insurance, read the fine print closely. The insurance may not apply if you are fearful to travel or may not cover pandemic situations. If insurance will not refund your money, call the airline or venue directly to see if they have put any policies in place for handling refunds and credits during the COVID-19 outbreak.
• Watch out for bargain tickets - With widespread cancelations, prices on flights and events are dropping. However, you may want to wait before purchasing that bargain ticket. As the situation and travel regulations evolve, any destination could quickly become inaccessible. This could result in additional cancellation fees, as well as the hassle of ending or postponing your trip.
• Be cautious of scammers - Scammers are never above profiting off of a crisis, so be diligent in checking for legitimate deals, especially if they are related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Counterfeit facemasks and fake cures are being advertised by scammers online, as they are taking advantage of high demand and consumer anxiety. If you come across, or fall victim to, a scam like these, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
As we watch and wait to see how the situation changes, remember to have patience with vendors, venues and your fellow consumers. While it is always disappointing to see an event or vacation cancelled, we can take comfort in knowing these choices are made with the wellbeing of you and your neighbors in mind.