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Jared Purdy

Ponant's unethical business practice, a disgrace to Paul Gauguin Cruise Lines.

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Greetings fellow travellers, 

 

I seriously cannot fathom that Ponant would be behaving in such an unethical way. But then, what do I know about Ponant?  My cousin is the one who got me hooked on the idea of doing a Tahitian cruise with Paul Gauguin, but she sailed with them before they were owned by Ponant.  My how things have changed.

 

The cruise line industry is suffering staggering loses as a result of COVID-19, and for a company to thumb it's nose at it's customers is unconscionable, and does a great disservice to the other cruise line businesses that operate beyond reproach.   Millions of people have lost their jobs, there is no telling where they will be next year, or the year after that in terms of being in a position to go on the cruise that they have none the less already paid for, but won't be able to go on because of numerous other expenses that they will il afford.  Credits for up to two years will be meaningless.  At best, or worst, is the idea of even stepping on that ship because of Ponant's cavalier attitude toward it's customer.  It's a tainted cruise.  They have ruined that holiday for me. They represent the epitome of corporate greed.  #covid19capitalism

 

After dealing with my travel agency, who appeared to be caught off guard by Ponant's directive to Paul Gaugin, I decided to send Ponant an email, and to take to social media, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with less than kind statements.  I have a multitude of emails from my travel agency to back up what I say, and they have them form Paul Gauguin as well, so I was told.  I have contacted my credit card company, and have launched a third party credit default.  I'm faintly optimistic that the bank will get the money back.  They don't take kindly to policy violations.

 

My email to the parent company, Ponant, of Paul Gauguin Crusies:

 

Good day,

 

I booked a Paul Gauguin cruise for my wife and I in January through ********. The booking number is: 2508742.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and notifications from the Tahitian government regarding the banning of all international flights, tourism and cruise ships for the unforeseeable future, we decided it best to cancel the cruise until next year. That was March 23rd, 2020. 

 

The cruise specialist at ****** informed me that through discussions with people at Paul Gauguin, that I'd be receiving a refund for the bulk  f the cost of the cruise, aside from  10% on the air fare, and I believe 10% on the cruise itself. That hold-back could be used as a credit for a future booking if done within the year, as I was told.  I was also told that I'd be getting 100% of the refund back for the three night stay on Moorea after the cruise.  All of this is in writing.

 

I called PG Cruises a couple of weeks ago to see if I could get a more accurate time frame on the refund, and at that time I was told that the parent company, Ponant, has directed Paul Gauguin not to issue any refunds effective March 30th. When I tried to explain that I cancelled my trip on March 23rd, and I had written confirmation from ********* as per the refund policy by PG Cruises at the time of cancellation, the customer service person just repeated herself. 

 

I notified ********  about this about face in policy. They were caught off guard, needless to say, as they have been telling hundred of customers that they can expect a refund.

I'd like to know what is being done about this? It's highly unethical for a business to hold a customer's money for up to 24 months after payment because of unforeseeable circumstances. This is a public relations disaster of epic proportions.

 

I was told that I'd be getting a refund, and that is what I expect to get. If it is not forth coming I will be contacting the appropriate people at the federal government of Canada and my lawyer.

It says on the Ponant and the PG Cruise web site that you offer "world class service". Where's the evidence of that?

 

Regards, Jared Purdy
Toronto, Canada.

 

 

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I understand your pain and your outrage, but you should keep in mind that Ponant is not alone in this approach. Over on the River Cruising forum there are several cruise lines that are ignoring the terms of their own contracts and refusing refunds.  And in the case of Paul Gauguin – this is speculation on my part – if Ponant hadn't bought them they probably wouldn't have had to money to refund you anyway.  They only had one ship, which dates back to 1998 and is surely at EOL.  Immediately on buying PG, Ponant commissioned two new ships to replace it – PG seems [IMO] to have been operating in the black only if they avoided any major capital expenses, which means they wouldn't have had the cash available for your refund.

 

I have sailed Ponant [Iceland last August] and also experienced a Ponant COVID-19 cancellation in which they rejected the refund that was promised in their T&C and offered only a 120% FCC.  We enjoyed the Iceland cruise enough that we have already used the FCC to rebook the New Zealand cruise for next January, and are planning  another Ponant cruise in the Azores in 2022.

 

So my suggestion is that you work through the stages of grief a little and then reassess whether you would rather rebook this PG cruise than lose the money altogether.  Everything I have heard about PG [pre-merger] was wonderful, and Ponant has committed to the modernization and expansion of the line.  If you can approach this cruise with an open mind, my prediction is that you will enjoy it.  Cheers!

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2 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

I understand your pain and your outrage, but you should keep in mind that Ponant is not alone in this approach. Over on the River Cruising forum there are several cruise lines that are ignoring the terms of their own contracts and refusing refunds.  And in the case of Paul Gauguin – this is speculation on my part – if Ponant hadn't bought them they probably wouldn't have had to money to refund you anyway.  They only had one ship, which dates back to 1998 and is surely at EOL.  Immediately on buying PG, Ponant commissioned two new ships to replace it – PG seems [IMO] to have been operating in the black only if they avoided any major capital expenses, which means they wouldn't have had the cash available for your refund.

 

I have sailed Ponant [Iceland last August] and also experienced a Ponant COVID-19 cancellation in which they rejected the refund that was promised in their T&C and offered only a 120% FCC.  We enjoyed the Iceland cruise enough that we have already used the FCC to rebook the New Zealand cruise for next January, and are planning  another Ponant cruise in the Azores in 2022.

 

So my suggestion is that you work through the stages of grief a little and then reassess whether you would rather rebook this PG cruise than lose the money altogether.  Everything I have heard about PG [pre-merger] was wonderful, and Ponant has committed to the modernization and expansion of the line.  If you can approach this cruise with an open mind, my prediction is that you will enjoy it.  Cheers!

Thanks for the reply.  I'm not bitter enough to not go on the cruise next year, or the year after if I don't get the money back though my bank/credit card.  I'm sure not throwing away almost $25K.  However, the experience has been severely tainted, and from what I've read in other posts here, I'm not the only one with those feelings.  

 

My cousin told me of a cancellation that her and her husband were forced to make with PG a few years ago. They got everything back except $100.  That's pretty much what I would expect.  Ponant seems to lack basic ethics.  They didn't even have the courtesy to send out a corporate response or to have PG do that on their behalf.  That's called hubris where I come from, and not an admirable character trait. Regards.

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Hubris is not a French trait.  Arrogance, however, would seem to be, along with greed and perhaps blindness to the effects of spitting in the eye of public opinion. 
 

Ponant and Paul Gauguin Cruises are playing a coy, crude and cruel game of ping pong with their responses to customers...and TA’s....and a possibly illegal game of keep-away with their money.

 

Bad enough that they are refusing to refund money on the cruise YOU cancelled, Jared,

Ponant/Paul Gauguin also REFUSE TO REFUND PAYMENTS ON CRUISES THEY THEMSELVES HAVE CANCELLED!  This despite the fact that their own passenger carriage contract states that they MUST DO SO IF THEY CANCEL A CRUISE.  French Law also calls for them to make customers whole.  Offering a voucher for a cruise in the future, when one may or may not be able to take it, and at a time when it, and the associated costs of flights and hotels, may be priced considerably higher, is not the same thing.  Nor is it in any way the industry standard!  Look around and compare the treatment by this shabby outfit to what is being offered by virtually any other; Viking, Regent, Crystal, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival....and I’m well out of the “luxury” class Ponant/Paul Gauguin likes to/imagines Itself to be a member.  
 

And perhaps is was.  No more. Ponant/Paul Gauguin has removed itself from the good company of high class cruise lines forever with their reaction to the Covid crisis and their decision to sacrifice their customers on the alter of corporate greed.

 

There will always be those willing to suck up to the bullies, Jared, to scold you for your absolutely justifiable outrage when, it reality, neither Paul Gauguin or Ponant may be around when Mr. Jazzbeau prepares to board next January.

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Jared I know how annoyed you are. It is not just cruises. Rocky Mountaineer is playing the same games. We didn't cancel they did. The word cancel is not part of their vocabulary. Our rail trip was "postponed".

Best of luck fighting for a refund.

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4 hours ago, Candlesmith said:

Hubris is not a French trait.  Arrogance, however, would seem to be, along with greed and perhaps blindness to the effects of spitting in the eye of public opinion. 
 

Ponant and Paul Gauguin Cruises are playing a coy, crude and cruel game of ping pong with their responses to customers...and TA’s....and a possibly illegal game of keep-away with their money.

 

Bad enough that they are refusing to refund money on the cruise YOU cancelled, Jared,

Ponant/Paul Gauguin also REFUSE TO REFUND PAYMENTS ON CRUISES THEY THEMSELVES HAVE CANCELLED!  This despite the fact that their own passenger carriage contract states that they MUST DO SO IF THEY CANCEL A CRUISE.  French Law also calls for them to make customers whole.  Offering a voucher for a cruise in the future, when one may or may not be able to take it, and at a time when it, and the associated costs of flights and hotels, may be priced considerably higher, is not the same thing.  Nor is it in any way the industry standard!  Look around and compare the treatment by this shabby outfit to what is being offered by virtually any other; Viking, Regent, Crystal, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival....and I’m well out of the “luxury” class Ponant/Paul Gauguin likes to/imagines Itself to be a member.  
 

And perhaps is was.  No more. Ponant/Paul Gauguin has removed itself from the good company of high class cruise lines forever with their reaction to the Covid crisis and their decision to sacrifice their customers on the alter of corporate greed.

 

There will always be those willing to suck up to the bullies, Jared, to scold you for your absolutely justifiable outrage when, it reality, neither Paul Gauguin or Ponant may be around when Mr. Jazzbeau prepares to board next January.

Yes, Yes, and Yes.  Love me some Lahaina right about now!  Ya, very disappointed. I just don't see the words "first class" in association with this outfit.  If I was told right from the beginning that any cancellations would result in a future cruise credit, we would not be having this conversation right now, but that is not what I was told.  Here's a copy of the content of the email that I was sent my the booking agency I used.  Some redactions had to occur because I have learned since doing yesterday that travel agent business names are not allowed to posted.  The first email is the first message that I received on March 23, the day of the cancellation, and second was a follow up on March 24 after further consultation with PG Cruises:

 

"Hi Jared,

 

Unfortunately I won't be able to call back soon as I'm required to respond to voicemails in the order they were recevied, and I'm still about 100 messages behind. However, I can still commicate by email during and between calls. On your July cruise, Paul Gauguin would charge a 10% penalty, but this would be issued back to you as a future cruise credit. However, the air portion is only 50% refundable, and Paul Gauguin would not be able to offer a credit for that portion. These offers may change over time. If you'd like to make any changes, please let me know.

 

Thank you,          

 

***********
Master Cruise Counselor and Luxury Specialist"

 

"Dear Mr. Purdy,

Great news, the hotel is fully refundable and your air is only penalized at 10% (with a matching future cruise credit). Your reservation has now been cancelled. 

Click the following link to view your updated confirmation. 

**************
If you need to reference your cruise details later, the link above will always take you to the latest version of your confirmation. You can also use the My Account tool located in the upper right-hand corner of **************
Sincerely,

****** *******"

 

Yes, that is what I, and likely hundreds of other customers were going on.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, sandydownunder said:

Jared I know how annoyed you are. It is not just cruises. Rocky Mountaineer is playing the same games. We didn't cancel they did. The word cancel is not part of their vocabulary. Our rail trip was "postponed".

Best of luck fighting for a refund.

 

Thanks, I will keep you posted.  I was told by my bank yesterday that they have begun the process of getting my money back, all of it, but it will take a few days to post, at which time Ponant has 10 weeks to file an appeal.  They told me to keep an eye on my credit card balance.  I was told that if I hear nothing back from them after the refund appears in my account, then the matter is settled.  Keeping fingers crossed.  The bank has a record of all the email exchanges where it clearly states, as my email above indicates, that I was promised a refund.  

 

This is all really unfortunate, as based on what my cousin told me, this small cruise ship, and the waters that it travels and places it stops, is/was a true dream.  I've only been on two cruises, both Royal Caribbean, and in spite of my initial reluctance to get on a floating mall, I have to say I really enjoyed it.  We had a room with a balcony, which was my insistence, and that was a very nice upgrade.  I was looking forward to seeing what this experience is like on a much smaller, and more intimate ship.  I may end up looking into Windstar, which my cousin has also done.

 

All very unfortunate.  How they could behave in such a cavalier way and not expect a PR disaster, and loos of loyal customers, is beyond me.  But ya, I've read elsewhere on this forum that there are other travel businesses that have behaved in a similar fashion, though as one poster to my thread replied, there are a number of very well known cruise lines that have given refunds.  That is the right thing to do.

 

Ponant, it's not too late to do the right thing and regain your lost and disillusioned customer base.

 

Regards, Jared

Edited by Jared Purdy
typos..

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I read about this situation on the PG board here on CC, and couldn't believe it.

 

Having spent 9 weeks on the PG over the years, this is tragic.  It was, in fact, a lovely experience.  I feel badly for the wonderful people who have staffed this ship, but I won't be going back, at least not unless Ponant turns itself right around.

 

Good luck with your credit card dispute.

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If you want others to know about Ponant and PG's unethical behaviour, we need to start posting on social media.  I've posted on IG.  Lil_stormi_pug  (Yup it is my dog's account but I have some followers and who have larger followers and are starting to comment).  I've tagged Ponant and PG.  Ponant and PG are actively posting on IG to attract new customers to their cruises.    We need to extend this beyond CC and hit them where it hurts in social media. Please consider commenting on my IG post highlighting Ponant/PG unethical business practices.  

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