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Beware of booking a cruise with Crystal Cruises. They are not honoring their refund policy.


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For those that are not yet made financially whole by either their banks, credit card providers or the cruise line, and who want to pursue a legal alternative, there may be a Small Claims Court option. The procedure(s) and recovery amounts vary by state; one does not have to be a permanent resident in the US to file a Small Claims suit. The filing fee is generally $25-$50 and one party generally needs to appear before the court, depending on the jurisdiction's requirements. And sometimes there is no guarantee that funds would be returned by the defendant, even if there is a judgement in the plaintiff's favor. 

 

It's important to review the Conditions of Contract of the bank, credit card provider or cruise line. Many have very explicit contract clauses that require mandatory arbitration to resolve disputes before the option to file a lawsuit will be considered.

 

There are several online articles about Small Claims suits online. Although focused for personal injury cases (just  skip the final few paragraphs of the article concerning personal injury matters), this link is an easy-to-follow generic summary for those that may be interested in pursuing this option concerning Bad Debt or Breach of Contract.

 

Rob

 

https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/small-claims-court.html

 

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5 hours ago, Jim9310 said:

 

Thanks again, Vince

If I understand correctly, merchants have a right to contest disputes which occur after the cutoff period in their credit card contract, and 90-days is usually the agreed cutoff period.

 

After my recent experience, I am wondering whether Crystal may be contesting disputes initiated after their contractual cutoff period. 

Under such circumstances, it seems advisable to preemptively file credit card disputes within the usual 90-day contract terms.

 

 

When the merchant receives the chargeback, they definitely can dispute it the same way a customer can dispute charge.  They can also dispute it more than once -- a couple of months ago I had to have our accounting team dispute a chargeback 3 times because we had already refunded a charge the prior month, and for some reason the bank wasn't looking at the right credit and kept thinking we hadn't processed the refund.  With volume going through the banks at the time, they weren't reading the documentation as carefully as normal, it felt like.

 

IMPORTANT:  Crystal doesn't have the option of disputing a chargeback based on their time to process the refund.  If you waited too long to request the refund in the first place (like you waited 5 years to return sheets to Target) then the merchant could dispute that, but any claims related to timing out of an already requested refund are PURELY at the bank level.  Those time limits are exclusively set and managed by the banks, and all of the situations I can think of off the top of my head would involve the cardholder's bank and not even the merchant's.

 

The chargeback dispute responses vary a little by merchant processor, but the most common reasons for a merchant to dispute a chargeback would include: Already refunded the charge, Customer never paid in the first place (for some reason the money never settled), customer's request is in violation of refund/return policy, customer provided fraudulent documentation, etc..  In all those cases the merchant has to thoroughly document their claim.

 

There really isn't anything for Crystal to argue on these disputes older than 90 days, I can't imagine they're disputing any of the older ones.  They are cut and dry "merchant didn't deliver services" claims.

 

5 hours ago, Elizabethbea said:

Well Banks aren’t daft and Crystal can “ contest “ all it likes- but it owes the refund , period. It can find the money to get the Banks off its  back in a credit card dispute, and will do so if it wishes to trade. At the moment ,( of course  probably due to cash flow problems ) it won’t refund until it suits them. Or the Bailiff is at the door. I do not think the 90 days is relevant as when we or they cancelled the terms were 100% refund, nothing about 90 days - this was subsequent to the contract and irrelevant- both parties have to agree to a change in contract terms for them to be incorporated into a contract. Crystal knows this. 

 

Crystal doesn't pay the banks a penny to do anything related to chargebacks.  The banks get paid their money from the fees on the transactions, so they get paid the same whether they approve a dispute or decline it.

 

If you have a copy of a policy that states a lower number of days than 90 days, then you are welcome to provide that to your credit card company.  Likewise, if you think Crystal somehow changed their policy in a way they weren't allowed to, you are welcome to argue that with your bank as well.  Aside from your right to sue them (which you can also do), your bank is the one that enforces your cardholder privileges.

 

Vince

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Just a short note on this.  Crystal's contract for US citizens is on their website:

 

https://www.crystalcruises.com/legal/crystal-cruises-general-ticket-terms-conditions

 

Note that this is the current US version of the contract as it has various mentions of the Covid 19 so my guess is that it has been updated this year some time.  So I would presume that there are previous versions that might apply in certain circumstances to those who might have booked earlier.  There appear to be other contracts that vary by river, expedition and different locales (UK and AUS for example).  With regard to the question of lawsuits, arbitration and small claims please take a look at Paragraph 21.  It notes that all claims including contract claims which would be what one would look at in terms of contract cancellation and return of monies (except those filed in small claims court in Miami Dade County FL) need to go to binding arbitration in - yes - Miami Dade County.  The forum for any disputes escaping - somehow - binding arbitration is in Federal Court in Miami or a state court in Miami Dade County.  And lastly there is a waiver of class actions by the client so presumably only individual lawsuits will be recognized.  So it looks like anyone wanting to have a legal battle with Crystal would likely be headed to Florida one way or the other.  Pretty standard kinds of provisions favoring the provider.

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38 minutes ago, BWIVince said:

There really isn't anything for Crystal to argue on these disputes older than 90 days, I can't imagine they're disputing any of the older ones.  They are cut and dry "merchant didn't deliver services" claims.

 

Hi Vince,  We really haven't kept up with the credit card disputing because of our situation.  What you wrote above makes us think we still might be able to cancel our rebooked cruises and still file a dispute.

 

We trusted Crystal, took a FCC and rebooked our two river cruises for 2021 within two weeks after Crystal canceled our 2020 cruises on March 13.  Crystal said the port taxes would be refunded within 90 days.  It's now 183 days without a refund.  We have been told that the bank needs to dispute the entire amount and is not able to extract only the port taxes from the original charge, so we just figured we were stuck because Crystal seems to have quit making refunds for undisputed claims.

 

You certainly sound like you have a good grasp of cruise billing and the credit card process.  Are we dreaming to think that we might be able to cancel our rebooked cruises now, give up the FCC and ask Crystal to refund 100% of our original fare on the two cruises they canceled on us?  Even if we'd have to wait 60 or 90 days to file a dispute, at least we'd know there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

We actually paid about $200 too much when we rebooked the cruises because of Crystal's delay in computing and confirming the FCC.  It took them almost 30 days to figure out what our original fare times 1.25 totaled.  Our travel agent advised us to pay whatever necessary to secure the rebooking and that he would get it back for us.  That didn't happen, so we contacted Crystal directly and they finally agreed to give us a shipboard credit after rejecting our demand for a refund of the overpaid amount.  Obviously, we think that the overpayment for the rebooking should be added to the refund if we cancel, but that's another matter.

 

Thanks!

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1 hour ago, seattleskibums said:

You certainly sound like you have a good grasp of cruise billing and the credit card process.  Are we dreaming to think that we might be able to cancel our rebooked cruises now, give up the FCC and ask Crystal to refund 100% of our original fare on the two cruises they canceled on us?  Even if we'd have to wait 60 or 90 days to file a dispute, at least we'd know there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

We actually paid about $200 too much when we rebooked the cruises because of Crystal's delay in computing and confirming the FCC.  It took them almost 30 days to figure out what our original fare times 1.25 totaled.  Our travel agent advised us to pay whatever necessary to secure the rebooking and that he would get it back for us.  That didn't happen, so we contacted Crystal directly and they finally agreed to give us a shipboard credit after rejecting our demand for a refund of the overpaid amount.  Obviously, we think that the overpayment for the rebooking should be added to the refund if we cancel, but that's another matter.

 

Thanks!

 

That's a tricky one...  If you did proceed, I would confirm with your bank first -- and save that communication -- that you would be able to dispute the credit that Crystal is posting if it doesn't post after 90 days despite the sailing being credited being different from the sailing originally charged on your card.  Because it's no longer technically a transaction refund, since there has been an exchange on your purchase and the purchase generating the "credit" is no longer the booking linked to your credit card transaction, the bank may no longer have a transaction to tie your dispute to -- depending on how their system or policies are set up.  One bank may follow the money, but another bank may not, and that's important to determine first before you go that route.

 

Does that help any?

 

Vince

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2 hours ago, seattleskibums said:

We have been told that the bank needs to dispute the entire amount and is not able to extract only the port taxes from the original charge

This is not universally true. 

 

My Costco Citi Visa allowed me to dispute 3 separate charges for one cancellation.  One charge for the full amount, one for $1000 less than the full amount because of the admin penalty, and one for approximately half because it represented a payment for a previous cancelled booking that had been partially transferred to the currently cancelled booking.  The portion of the latter that I did not dispute had already been refunded.  I chose to adjust each charge so that the amounts I was disputing matched the amounts that Crystal had earmarked for refund on the final Payment Confirmation.  My bank had no complaint about disputing the partial amounts.

 

I think others have reported disputing the full amount, and the response from Crystal was to pay less than that by the amount of the admin penalty.

 

2 hours ago, seattleskibums said:

Are we dreaming to think that we might be able to cancel our rebooked cruises now, give up the FCC and ask Crystal to refund 100% of our original fare on the two cruises they canceled on us?

IMO, yes you are dreaming.  Once you converted it to FCC on another booking, I think it would be very unlikely that Crystal would allow you to change it back.  If Crystal allows you to do this, please let us know.

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1 hour ago, SusieQft said:

IMO, yes you are dreaming.  Once you converted it to FCC on another booking, I think it would be very unlikely that Crystal would allow you to change it back.  If Crystal allows you to do this, please let us know.

 

It's like transferring Amex MR points into airline miles and then booking a flight with the miles.  Cancel the flight and the miles get credited back to your FF account, but you can't turn them back into MR points.

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6 hours ago, H2O Polo Willie said:

Just a short note on this.  Crystal's contract for US citizens is on their website:

 

https://www.crystalcruises.com/legal/crystal-cruises-general-ticket-terms-conditions

 

Note that this is the current US version of the contract as it has various mentions of the Covid 19 so my guess is that it has been updated this year some time.  So I would presume that there are previous versions that might apply in certain circumstances to those who might have booked earlier.  There appear to be other contracts that vary by river, expedition and different locales (UK and AUS for example).  With regard to the question of lawsuits, arbitration and small claims please take a look at Paragraph 21.  It notes that all claims including contract claims which would be what one would look at in terms of contract cancellation and return of monies (except those filed in small claims court in Miami Dade County FL) need to go to binding arbitration in - yes - Miami Dade County.  The forum for any disputes escaping - somehow - binding arbitration is in Federal Court in Miami or a state court in Miami Dade County.  And lastly there is a waiver of class actions by the client so presumably only individual lawsuits will be recognized.  So it looks like anyone wanting to have a legal battle with Crystal would likely be headed to Florida one way or the other.  Pretty standard kinds of provisions favoring the provider.

This does not apply to credit card transactions. 

 

The Credit Card companies have their own "contract" with Crystal and those terms are different.  The public,  when using a Credit Card, are the 3rd party beneficiaries of that "contract."; this is your cardholder privileges. Thus the rules regarding charge-backs have a different result for the consumer than if the consumer tried to sue under Crystal contract of carriage (General Ticket Terms & Conditions). And Crystal rules do not supersede your cardholder privileges.

 

If you paid with a credit card AND have a Crystal cancellation letter, you can file for a refund and charge-back with the credit card company immediately. No need to wait any time, no matter what Crystal puts in their contact or rule to the contrary.

 

J

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I probably should have quoted or referenced that I was responding to post 126 by Ron with regard to lawsuit remedies and not presenting a full panoply of potential remedies.  That said it seems that litigation - small claims or otherwise - should other remedies like credit card charge backs fail is not likely going to be a real positive opportunity,

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59 minutes ago, H2O Polo Willie said:

 That said it seems that litigation - small claims or otherwise - should other remedies like credit card charge backs fail is not likely going to be a real positive opportunity,

Agree. It’s not like Crystal is sitting on a pile of money and refusing to pay it back.
 

Through no fault of their own they have cash flow issues.

 

Litigation would be costly (for both parties) and fruitless.

 

 

Edited by Cruise-y
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I want to clarify the option of calling the bank BEFORE the 90 days is up because I’m not sure it was correctly explained upthread.

 

IF you want to start early, get a provisional credit and get the refund on the bank’s radar, call the bank and explain that Crystal is promising a refund, provide the documentation, and explain the refund isn’t expected for 90 days or more, and request a provisional credit.  
 

The bank will usually be happy to issue the credit, and this way they know properly where Crystal stands legally in the process, and it should bridge the gap until Crystal’s credit arrives.  (It’s also a nice way to shift the wait game off to the bank, which may well get impatient with Crystal and take their own action without you having to lift a finger or worry about a thing.)

 

Every cardholder agreement I’ve ever seen (but obviously I don’t know all of them) requires you to work with the merchant first and to follow their process before filing a dispute.  If you try to file a dispute first without explaining the situation to the bank first, you risk the dispute being thrown out and not being able to take advantage of a provisional credit.  THIS IS NOT TO SAY that the bank might not advance the dispute in error or that Crystal might not just pay the chargeback to avoid messing with it, BUT Crystal would absolutely win a dispute of a chargeback that jumped the gun if they wished to dispute it.
 

There is a lot to lose and really nothing to gain by going the wrong route on this.  Request a provisional credit properly.

 

Vince

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I paid for my cruise in January, cruise was cancelled by Crystal in late June and sailing date was scheduled for August 30. So not sure what date is used to measure 90 day time frame for disputing lack of refund with credit card company. Fortunately, Amex accepted my dispute on Sept 5 and I have the funds credited to my account provisionally. If no "successful" dispute of account crediting is received from Crystal by Nov 26, the crediting of the funds to my Amex card is considered final.

Edited by edgee
clarity
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8 hours ago, BWIVince said:

Crystal would absolutely win a dispute of a chargeback that jumped the gun if they wished to dispute it.

 

There is a lot to lose and really nothing to gain by going the wrong route on this.  Request a provisional credit properly.

 

I understand what you are saying, and it makes sense EXCEPT for the fact that many of the credit card companies are enforcing a hard deadline to file your dispute.  Maybe it is 536 days (a little less than 18 months) from the date of the charge, but in some cases it has been significantly less than that.  It is just a gut feeling on my part, but it seems to me that some of the banks are shortening their deadline and/or enforcing it more strictly as this situation drags on and more and more people try to dispute charges.

 

Since many cruises are booked far in advance, it is very easy to be more than 18 months from your payment that you want to dispute, even before waiting 90 days.  So if that is the situation, one could lose the opportunity to dispute the charge by waiting too long.

 

I confess that I filed a dispute prematurely at 25 days after I cancelled.  The bank was very quick to issue me a temporary credit (which really meant nothing to me since I do not use that card much and there was no significant balance for me to delay paying).  It took them another 21 days before they told Crystal about it, during which time the very slowly asked me to mail hard copy documentation, and then even after they received it it took a while for them to decide to proceed.  Now they tell me that Crystal has until Oct. 29 to respond, which is 101 days after I cancelled and 562 days from my initial deposit.  Some of the responses to a charge back have been quick, but in my case they are taking their time with it.  If I had waited until 90 days after I cancelled, it would have been too late to dispute both the initial deposit and an even larger amount that I transferred from another booking, adding up to about 2/3 of the total amount of my refund.

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21 hours ago, BWIVince said:

That's a tricky one...   One bank may follow the money, but another bank may not, and that's important to determine first before you go that route.  Does that help any?

 

Immensely.  Thank you.  As we kinda thought from the start, it sounds like we may be stuck.  It took Crystal more than a month just to confirm our FCC even though we had made the simple 125% calculation ourselves and rebooked within two weeks of their canceling our cruises.  We can imagine it might take them till the end of the year to unwind things and figure out what they would owe us for canceling the rebooked cruises.  We definitely will take your advice and talk to the bank first.

 

This 125% FCC business sounds like it could get very complicated if cruises don't start up again by next spring and people who took the bonus FCC start seeking refunds for canceled cruises.

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15 hours ago, Cruise-y said:

Through no fault of their own they have cash flow issues.

 

Like every other travel-related company is rolling in dough? 

 

The fact remains that Crystal is at the bottom of the heap when it comes to making refunds.  We're at Day 184 now waiting for the port taxes from our river cruises that Crystal canceled on March 13.  They apparently have quit making refunds to everyone except those lucky enough to have the muscles of credit card companies on their side.  

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2 hours ago, SusieQft said:

 

I understand what you are saying, and it makes sense EXCEPT for the fact that many of the credit card companies are enforcing a hard deadline to file your dispute.  Maybe it is 536 days (a little less than 18 months) from the date of the charge, but in some cases it has been significantly less than that.  It is just a gut feeling on my part, but it seems to me that some of the banks are shortening their deadline and/or enforcing it more strictly as this situation drags on and more and more people try to dispute charges.

 

Since many cruises are booked far in advance, it is very easy to be more than 18 months from your payment that you want to dispute, even before waiting 90 days.  So if that is the situation, one could lose the opportunity to dispute the charge by waiting too long.

 

I confess that I filed a dispute prematurely at 25 days after I cancelled.  The bank was very quick to issue me a temporary credit (which really meant nothing to me since I do not use that card much and there was no significant balance for me to delay paying).  It took them another 21 days before they told Crystal about it, during which time the very slowly asked me to mail hard copy documentation, and then even after they received it it took a while for them to decide to proceed.  Now they tell me that Crystal has until Oct. 29 to respond, which is 101 days after I cancelled and 562 days from my initial deposit.  Some of the responses to a charge back have been quick, but in my case they are taking their time with it.  If I had waited until 90 days after I cancelled, it would have been too late to dispute both the initial deposit and an even larger amount that I transferred from another booking, adding up to about 2/3 of the total amount of my refund.

 

Your bank did what they should, and is crediting your account immediately but waiting to do the chargeback until Crystal's policy is followed on your part.  That way they've covered the bases and eliminate the risk you'd lose the dispute.

 

Not every bank catches that though, that's why I mention asking for a provisional credit instead of jumping on the dispute prematurely.  That puts it on the bank's radar, reduces the risk of timing out, AND prevents the risk of the dispute getting tossed out and being a mark against the cardholder.   If the bank wants to act on the provisional credit and do a chargeback early that's THEIR option, but if you prematurely dispute it (instead of the provisional credit) then you take the risk personally.

 

Your point about timing is a good one -- if you're running out of time by your cardholder agreement, definitely use the provisional credit route to get the claim on the books early -- just be up front with the bank about the 90 day refund response from Crystal.  They will work with you to follow the rules properly.

 

44 minutes ago, seattleskibums said:

 

Like every other travel-related company is rolling in dough? 

 

The fact remains that Crystal is at the bottom of the heap when it comes to making refunds.  We're at Day 184 now waiting for the port taxes from our river cruises that Crystal canceled on March 13.  They apparently have quit making refunds to everyone except those lucky enough to have the muscles of credit card companies on their side.  

 

In fairness to Crystal (which I can't remember the last time I said that), it's not like Crystal has any choice or control in the matter. 

 

Right now, I assume the only money Crystal has coming in are the slow trickle of refunds from vendors, which can't possibly be covering the chargebacks that credit card companies are taking from Crystal.  I wouldn't be surprised if Crystal is having to work with their merchant services company to borrow from their escrows to cover the chargebacks (which is the ONLY thing that money can be used for), but I'd have no idea if that's actually true...  Just feels that way from what we see.

 

Disputes are a double edged sword.  I don't begrudge anyone filing a dispute -- they are actually entitled to do so and deserve their promised refunds...  Unfortunately though, the consequence is the orderly refund of bookings chronologically, which CAN'T happen when more money is being "hijacked" out than coming in.

 

We'll see what kind of funding solution Genting works out to change that, but until then the chargebacks rule.

 

Vince

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13 minutes ago, BWIVince said:

In fairness to Crystal (which I can't remember the last time I said that), it's not like Crystal has any choice or control in the matter. ...  Unfortunately though, the consequence is the orderly refund of bookings chronologically, which CAN'T happen when more money is being "hijacked" out than coming in.

 

We hear you and totally agree with your assessment.  Our point is -- and has been for weeks -- that Crystal is being deceitful in telling people who aren't filing disputes to be patient and suggesting they are processing refunds in the order of cancellation in "about 90 days," although they concede there might be "exceptions."  The truth is that no one who hasn't filed a dispute has a prayer of seeing any money in 90 days -- or even 184 days as is the case with us.

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On 9/12/2020 at 3:02 AM, BWIVince said:


Thanks Jim....  I was picturing in my head (for no reason) that it was for a defined sailing date.  That scenario (unfortunately) makes a little more sense.  Although credit card companies can always enforce a cutoff on disputes, when a service date (sailing) is defined on the statement, the claim that a merchant failed to deliver the services purchased “logically” (vs. legally) shifts the focus from the transaction date to the sailing date.  
 

The bank doesn’t have to follow the bouncing ball like that, but if you have a cruise booked in January (for example), it gets cancelled in March, you dispute it in September, and the sailing date is in October, it takes a lot stronger of a stomach for the bank to come back to their customer and say that the merchant didn’t fail to deliver services as agreed.  That said of course, banks are unfortunately pretty good about enforcing rules instead of services and saying unpopular things, so even though that argument usually wins, it’s no guarantee.

 

 

There’s nothing democratized about credit card processing.  There are two sets of rules in a purchase, and they can conflict.  The merchant’s rules are set in their agreement with their merchant services company.  Your rules are set in your cardholder agreement with your credit card company.  When they conflict, it’s up to your bank to work it out with the merchant’s processor.

 

The merchant’s agreement with their processor basically outlines the merchant’s obligations in exchange for accepting credit cards.  Among the things it can define are limits to policies, since the processor is the one that has to line up the merchant’s transactions against the cardholder’s rights in their various agreements — the processor becomes the middleman and needs the merchant’s policies to meet certain standards.

 

Every merchant services company has wildly different terms — these become a competitive point that allows the merchant to shop the one whose terms meet their needs.  The window that the merchant has to process refunds is one of those variables.  I’m not an expert on credit card processing so I don’t profess to know how common that window varies,  but most of the agreements I’ve been privy to give the merchant leeway to set a policy between 7 and 180 days.  I’ve not seen an agreement that gives the merchant more than 180 days.  The merchant still has to perform to their policy — if they say 90 days, the claim becomes disputable on the 91st day.

 

The merchant’s terms and the cardholder’s terms can conflict.  The merchant services company will generally outline terms that work with most cardholder agreements, but because individual banks issue credit cards, they can come up with some creative products with novel terms.  The banks will work out those differences with a dispute — often in the cardholder’s favor since everyone recognizes the common goal to please the customer — but that’s not guaranteed.  
 

A dispute is expensive and extremely time consuming because it touches many hands.  The cardholder’s bank works with the merchant processor, the merchant processor works with the merchant, the merchant responds to their processor, their processor responds to the cardholder’s bank, which goes back to the processor, who goes back to the merchant, over and over for several rounds.  When a dispute is declined, it’s usually because the cardholder’s bank isn’t willing to step in and pay themselves on a term that the merchant followed properly in their agreement.

 

Its not that a cruise line gets to do what they want, it’s more a form of mediation between different sets of terms.

 

Vince

That's all good for the relationship between the "merchant" and the "credit card company/bank," but that is, in some ways, irrelevant to what I am saying.  These agreements were made among the parties (not including the customers) way ahead of the actual transaction.  This is about what obligation does the cruise line have with the customers.  It appears Crystal and many other cruise lines is acting as though the terms of the refunds can be determined unilaterally by the cruise line, long time after the transactions have occurred. I guess that was the case with the US airlines until the DOT stepped in.  I guess the US laws regulating things like purchase of a cruise is rather lacking in terms of consumer protection, which, I am afraid is the case with laws regulating many other businesses here in the US.

 

Not everything that is morally reprehensible is illegal, and I guess Crystal and some other cruise lines are technically not breaching any US laws (as far as I know) by following their own arbitrary timeline for the refunds.  If private individuals did that to a company, things will get serious much sooner with collection agencies involvement as well as possible damage to the consumer credit scores.

 

I guess what I am saying is that Crystal and other cruise lines are abusing the lack of regulation by unilaterally defining their own definition of their obligations to the customers.  It's like me saying to Crystal I will make my deposit and/or final payment whenever we feel we can.  I do not think that would fly with Crystal.  And what Crystal is doing to me is not flying with me either.

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Just a point of clarification; it is not your bank that sets the credit refund/charge-back rules but the underlying credit card processor. There are really only 4 major card processors in the US. Visa, MasterCard, discover and AmEx. All of their rules are fairly standard in this regard.

 

Also know that the major's have set a very large "hold-back" reserves against the large cruise operators, like CCL, NCLH, and RCCL. I don't know if they are doing the same with Crystal.

 

J

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13 minutes ago, Psoque said:

That's all good for the relationship between the "merchant" and the "credit card company/bank," but that is, in some ways, irrelevant to what I am saying.  These agreements were made among the parties (not including the customers) way ahead of the actual transaction.  This is about what obligation does the cruise line have with the customers.  It appears Crystal and many other cruise lines is acting as though the terms of the refunds can be determined unilaterally by the cruise line, long time after the transactions have occurred. I guess that was the case with the US airlines until the DOT stepped in.  I guess the US laws regulating things like purchase of a cruise is rather lacking in terms of consumer protection, which, I am afraid is the case with laws regulating many other businesses here in the US.

 

Not everything that is morally reprehensible is illegal, and I guess Crystal and some other cruise lines are technically not breaching any US laws (as far as I know) by following their own arbitrary timeline for the refunds.  If private individuals did that to a company, things will get serious much sooner with collection agencies involvement as well as possible damage to the consumer credit scores.

 

I guess what I am saying is that Crystal and other cruise lines are abusing the lack of regulation by unilaterally defining their own definition of their obligations to the customers.  It's like me saying to Crystal I will make my deposit and/or final payment whenever we feel we can.  I do not think that would fly with Crystal.  And what Crystal is doing to me is not flying with me either.

 

I understand your point, but unfortunately banks in this country wield an incredible amount of power, and have taken a lot of control over commerce in this country.  Coulda, shoulda, woulda, but this is the world we live in and Crystal has to follow those rules.  Trust me, I'm sure (based on what I've seen with other merchants) they are constrained by a lot of terms that benefit the bank that I'm sure they wish they could drop, which would make refunds more expeditious, but that's what the whole industry has to work with.

 

For the record though, we're picking on cruise lines for "unilaterally defining" their refund policy, but is there any retail service industry (travel or otherwise) that doesn't have that ability?  Certainly all the segments of the travel industry are guided/given guidance/leeway by their credit card agreements the same way cruise lines are.  

 

Vince

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12 minutes ago, JMARINER said:

Just a point of clarification; it is not your bank that sets the credit refund/charge-back rules but the underlying credit card processor. There are really only 4 major card processors in the US. Visa, MasterCard, discover and AmEx. All of their rules are fairly standard in this regard.

 

Also know that the major's have set a very large "hold-back" reserves against the large cruise operators, like CCL, NCLH, and RCCL. I don't know if they are doing the same with Crystal.

 

J

 

Just another point of clarification...  The terms ARE set on the merchant's side, but the merchant contracts with a merchant services company (often a bank) and not directly with the credit card brands.  The credit card brands aren't processors -- they're many layers up the chain.  The merchant services company (often their bank) works with certain processors/gateways (like Elavon, First Data/Fiserv, Payflow Pro, etc.).  Brands like Visa, AmEx, etc. set standards, but they don't dictate the granular terms that the merchant services companies or processors do.  A merchant's contract terms can vary quite a bit from one merchant services provider to another.

 

Vince

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I have posted this before, but it bears repeating; I cancelled a September 2021 cruise on March 24, waited more than 90 days, and attempted to file a dispute with CSR. Chase's website does not permit customers to dispute a charge after more than sixty days have passed, so I spoke with a customer service rep and her supervisor, but they refused to allow me to file the dispute. They said I could not dispute the charge because I had  requested the refund more than 60 days prior to making the request. I explained the 90-day "policy" announced by Crystal but they would not move off their position that i should have filed the dispute within 60 days of cancellation. I have seen numerous other reports on these boards suggesting that Chase has a 90, or 586 day deadline for disputes, but my experience suggests that it is important to file the dispute within 60 days. Despite Chase's denial of my dispute, I received a refund from Crystal shortly thereafter, at 143 days.

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2 minutes ago, Cruisemonty said:

I have posted this before, but it bears repeating; I cancelled a September 2021 cruise on March 24 ...  Despite Chase's denial of my dispute, I received a refund from Crystal shortly thereafter, at 143 days.

 

Yeah, sure sounds like they're making refunds in order of the date of cancellation.  Our cruises were canceled by Crystal on March 13 and we still haven't been processed 184 days later.  Any theories how that could have happened?  Either you have a good friend at Crystal -- or Chase made an inquiry on your behalf -- or Crystal is lying about making refunds in order.

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2 hours ago, Psoque said:

If private individuals did that to a company, things will get serious much sooner with collection agencies involvement as well as possible damage to the consumer credit scores.

Actually, Crystal's "credit rating" has plummeted, not only with its customers but also with its suppliers, lenders and any other creditors.

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