DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) — More than 300 Iowa band students will receive a six-figure refund from a Colorado travel company after COVID-19 canceled a European high school band tour last summer.
According to a release the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, band students that signed up for a band trip to Europe will receive a $610,430 refund from Voyageurs International after agreeing to settle allegations by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that it violated the Travel Agencies and Agents law, the Iowa Door-to-Door Sales Act, and the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act. The company denied the charges but agreed to the assurance of voluntary compliance.
“The pandemic was unavoidable, and travel companies are not necessarily responsible for refunding all money to customers in such situations,” Attorney General Tom Miller said. “However, Voyageurs misled Iowans in how it handled the unexpected event. We appreciate that the company worked with us to return money to Iowans.”
High school band students across Iowa, as well as the country, signed up for Voyageurs’ “Ambassadors of Music” tours in 2020. Iowa students paid $6,345 each for the European tour and accompanying adults paid $6,745, while about 40 Iowans paid an additional $2,075-$2,265 for a side trip to Greece.
In March of 2020, Voyageurs President Gilford Mahaffy sent a letter to Iowans about canceling the 2020 tour because of the pandemic and informed the consumers that they would receive a refund of their contract payment, less $1,900 per the cancellation clause in the contract.
Voyageurs refused the full refund on the representation that the company had paid more than $1,900 to vendors for each student’s trip “that it will not be able to recoup.” The AG’s office claimed that Voyageurs had received partial refunds from some vendors.
The AG’s office also alleged that Voyageurs:
- failed to register as a travel agency with the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office or submitting evidence of financial security to that office;
- failed to provide the consumer with a “Notice of Cancellation” drafted with the required form and content under the Iowa Door-to-Door Sales Act and failed to furnish to the consumer two copies of the notice.
The AG’s office is in the process of contacting the affected Iowans and will send them refund checks.