Experienced tourists buy tours for the summer in advance, as such booking saves money. But in recent years, force majeure circumstances often force us to abandon planned trips. The legislation of the Russian Federation provides for the possibility of a refund for an unused trip or a canceled flight.
Grounds for a refund for the tour
If the tourist cannot use the purchased tourist voucher for reasons beyond his control, he has the right to a refund of 100% of the money paid. This right is granted by Russian law.
The ban on air travel and the imposition of other sanctions against the Russian Federation in connection with a special military operation are so-called force majeure circumstances that do not depend on the parties to the transaction. And that doesn’t stop me from asking for a refund.
In 2021, the Association of Tour Operators entered into an agreement with the All-Russian Union of Insurers. One of the points in it is a guarantee of a refund to the tourist if force majeure circumstances have arisen in the country of arrival or in the country of departure.
Although the risks of border closures and interruption of air travel are not covered by travel cancellation insurance , the consumer retains the right to demand a refund. This norm is enshrined in the Law of the Russian Federation “On the Protection of Consumer Rights” No. 2300-I of 02/07/1992.
Grounds for a refund for an air ticket
If a tourist travels independently and does not use the services of agencies, he has the opportunity to return money for an unused ticket. But the passenger receives the right to return most often only after the official cancellation of the flight by the airline.
When a flight is canceled, the client has the right to return his money, even if he bought a ticket at a non-refundable fare. If the fare provides for a refund of the funds paid for the ticket, they can be demanded even before the official cancellation.
If the airline does not want to voluntarily refund the money, the procedure for filing a complaint and resolving a conflict situation will be the same as for canceling a full tour.
Personal reasons for canceling a tour
The client has the right to refuse a tourist trip, even if the opportunity to fly or go to a certain country has been preserved. The legal reasons for such refusal are:
- deterioration of conditions in the country where the client is going on vacation;
- postponement of the travel date by the operator unilaterally;
- a significant change in the cost of air and other tickets;
- force majeure situations related to the tourist himself (illness, refusal to issue a visa).
When one of these circumstances prevented you from going on a trip, you can get an amount from which the costs of issuing a ticket incurred by the tour operator will be deducted.
Refund procedure for an unused trip
Since a tourist trip is primarily a service, the procedure for returning money for a purchased tour differs little from a similar procedure applied to other purchases.
To get a refund for a trip, you need to do the following:
- Prepare a claim for termination of the contract and a refund.
The document must state the reasons for the refusal or inability to go on a tourist trip. You should also indicate the exact dates of departure on vacation and return from it. The right to return is granted by the Law of the Russian Federation “On the Protection of Consumer Rights” No. 2300-I dated February 7, 1992 and the Federal Law “On the Basics of Tourist Activities in Russia” No. 132-FZ dated November 24, 1996. It is important to refer to the articles and clauses of the law that give the client the right to return the funds paid.
The claim must specify the exact amount that the travel agency must pay to the client. It is also recommended to provide calculations that substantiate it.
- Send a claim to the tour operator.
The prepared document must be sent by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt. In this case, upon further appeal to the court, if the tour operator refuses to return the money, the plaintiff will have confirmation of an attempt to resolve the dispute.
The letter must be sent to the official legal address of the company, which is indicated in its registration documents. You can find out the place of registration of a travel agency from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities (Unified State Register of Legal Entities) in open sources on the Internet. The code of the legal entity is in its details specified in the contract.
- Expect a refund or response within ten days.
In response to a claim, the agency can offer three options for resolving the issue.
- Refund of the funds paid in the amount specified in the claim. Also, the tour operator may contact the claimant and agree on a different refund amount with the rationale for its reduction. To agree or not to such a decision is an individual matter.
- Installment refund. Given the occurrence of force majeure at the end of winter 2022, it must be understood that not all tour operators have enough free working capital to satisfy claims. Therefore, the agency has the right to make payments in installments.
- Replacing a tour or changing dates. The agency may offer an alternative, which must be similar in price and other criteria. This possibility is usually provided by the contract. But the tour operator has no right to force consent. This decision is made by the client.
If there is no response to the pre-trial claim and the issue is not resolved, the only way to return the money will be to file a claim with the court.
If the agency refuses to satisfy the claim and return the funds, the client has the right to apply to the court with a statement of claim. The consideration of the case is carried out in the manner prescribed by the civil and civil procedural legislation.
Litigation is time consuming and requires the payment of a lawyer if the client seeks legal assistance. If the claim is satisfied, the costs of providing legal assistance and paying the state fee are compensated by the defendant. But litigation can take months. Therefore, it makes sense to try to resolve the situation out of court and, if necessary, agree to a refund in the form of installments, transfer or replacement of the tour.