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[Resolved] Viking River Cruisesdeceptive cancellation process - buyer beware

Booking Number: 4727313
My wife and I booked an April 2018 Viking river cruise in Sept 2017 and paid in full by the required 60 or 90 days post booking. We declined the expensive Viking trip insurance as we had taken (and will continue to take) annual trips out of county without problem. We did get reasonably priced cancellation insurance for the air travel which was booked separately.
In early March 2018, my wife went to the hospital with what we thought was asthma but diagnosed as sudden heart failure. The doctor told us that travel out of country for the following 90 days was out of the question. I called Viking within a day to cancel our trip. The doctor wrote a letter explaining the reason for her travel restriction.
I called Viking three times over the next three days to discuss various ways we could avoid losing $7000. In the end, all Reps had the same scripted message, i.e. write an email stating we must cancel and include the Reservation No., full names of all people cancelling, the reason for cancelling, to attach the doctor's letter, and not to delay as we were past but close to the last 25-day deadline where we could have received a partial refund. I could not speak to a "Supervisor." The last Rep stated it was Friday and all those who were authorized to make a decision on a refund would be off for the weekend and time was of the essence as we were close but past the last deadline.
I sent the email requesting a cancellation and included all the required information and immediately got a short canned negative response with a copy of the contract and stating that the last deadline for a partial refund had passed. No consideration was given for the doctor's note or for a partial credit for a future sailing. I called back and requested that we be allowed to give our reservation to our daughter and son-in-law but that was denied as it was "strictly not allowed."
I finally realized that there never was any hope of getting a refund and the carefully scripted cancellation instructions offered Viking a clear and expedited cancellation process whereas they could immediately rebook our room to another party at full fare. The next morning, I called Viking to rescind my cancellation and they told me it was likely too late as they re-book cancelled reservations quickly. After a long conversation the Rep said he would look into what options were still available. He warned us that if he could get us re-booked, the room may be different from the original room. The next day he called and agreed to rescind our cancellation.
What I am describing above is clearly a deceptive business practice of verbally offering some hope of a refund followed by a urgent hustle to get a formal cancellation quickly to get a more favorable decision for refund. This practice of offering some hope of refund and extracting a formal cancellation maximizes profit through the double selling of rooms. In short Viking appears to be in the business of getting formal clean and clear cancellations as early as possible so they can resell the room. Viking wouldn't allow us to transfer reservations to family members but readily re-sell cancelled rooms as soon as they get the formal cancellation notice.
We were able to get reimbursement for the airfare through the insurer, and from our pre-booked hotels in Charlotte NC and Prague directly and without question from both Marriott and Hilton. Only Viking refused to consider any sort of refund, credit towards a future trip, or transfer to another family couple. Viking allowed us access only to lower level people and dropped us like a rock after sending the canned negative response to our request.

  • Resolution statement

    Customer care service did everything in their power to resolve this complaint. All attempts to contact the complainant have failed. Therefore, this complaint has been annulled and must not be considered where image of the company in question and it's services are concerned.

  • Viking River Cruises Customer Care's Response, Jul 29, 2018

    We regret to learn of your wife’s illness, Eojyllib, and thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. While we’re sorry to hear your recent communication with us has been disappointing, we encourage you to contact us at [protected]@vrc.com, where we can connect you with an agent to further review this situation. We’re looking forward to hearing from you through that outlet, Eojyllib, and hope to talk soon.

Eo
Jul 29, 2018

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