Expensive school trips - and cancellations :(

May 30, 2009 11:38am CST
Both of my daughters have gone through the gifted program at our local public high school (one is still in the program and the older one has graduated). One of the aspects of this program is that there is a big year-end trip ... and it is mandatory (they have work to do during the trip and things to be submitted for grading when they return). This year's trip cost $500 per child and that does not include meals or spending money. They were to have gone away during the first week of May. Well, due to H1N1 (swine flu), the trip had to be canceled. In fact, all trips in the whole school board were canceled. As of today, not one parent has received a refund. We keep asking and no information is coming home with the students. We are hearing rumors that they are "trying" to give us refunds and further rumors that they are considering applying the money to "something else" or another activity. In my opinion, that is really unacceptable. I paid, in installments, for my daughter to take a specific trip. I even bought the cancellation insurance they offered. If that trip didn't happen, I have not authorized them to use my money for anything else. 52 students were to have taken the trip so, at $500 each, that's $26,000. Even if there's a cancellation fee applied by the travel company (which I don't know if there would be in the case of an epidemic like swine flu?? Any travel professionals among us that can enlighten me?), that's still a lot of money on the school's books that belongs to the parents. Questions to the organizers are, so far, being skirted and avoided. Has anyone had experience with a cancellation like this? Did you get refunded? Do you think they have the right to decide to use the funds for another activity? I don't think parents are being unreasonable but patience is wearing thin. School ends June 19th and we're worried we won't get this resolved in time.
1 response
• United States
31 May 09
First of all, I think it is ridiculous that the program requires a $500 per child trip. Secondly, since the trip is canceled, you should definitely get your money back. The thing is, schools are known not to be able to give refunds for canceled trips. I really don't think that is fair.
1 person likes this
• Canada
31 May 09
I really appreciate your feedback, thanks! Yes the year-end trip is pretty hard financially for a lot of the families (I won't even begin to mention the trip to Europe they offer to senior grades that costs $3K! As much as I would love to, I can't offer my daughter that experience). They tell us we will be given opportunities to fundraise but it's always the same thing -- sell chocolate bars, sell magazines, etc. I am self-employed and have no "workplace" to take these things to like many other parents do -- some manage to raise the full cost of the trip by selling chocolate at their offices. The kids don't have to do anything at all for it. I have a sister, brother in law and niece living nearby and that's my only immediate family left. So, my daughter went door to door and managed to sell one case of chocolate that netted her a whopping $22 towards her trip. The magazines I told her to skip it altogether and paid the balance myself. I always purchase the cancellation insurance they offer for these trips because you really never know what might come up between the start of the school year and the end, when they actually take the trip. They tell you specifically if your child "cancels" or backs out of the trip, you don't get your refund. The kids definitely didn't back out... they all came home in tears the day they were told their trip wasn't going to happen. I've sent an email to the trip organizer asking when we get our money back -- so far, no reply -- but I'll keep at it!