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DO NOT travel with EF TOURS!! Horrible company

DO NOT travel with EF TOURS!! Horrible company

Old Oct 2nd, 2020, 12:30 PM
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DO NOT travel with EF TOURS!! Horrible company

My daughter was enrolled on a tour Feb 2021 to Berlin, Prague, Krakow, and Budapest.
I learned last night that the trip to Europe was canceled due to the COVID pandemic. She is a graduating senior and can not travel at a later date. I also learned that I will not be getting all of my money back (even though I purchased the travel insurance that was supported the EF website). EF is withholding $500 in administration fees, plus the $95 deposit, plus some other fee. All total they are withholding $760. That is INSANE. I am not canceling the trip, but yet I am the one out of money.

I work at another high school, and had a trip planned for the Galapagos and Ecuador in April 2020. That trip was canceled less than a month from our trip date, and the students received FULL REFUNDS from the travel company I used, Worldstrides.

I can’t believe that this is the way EF conducts business. I hope If you are thinking of future travel you would consider Worldstrides. That company has done the right thing time and time again for my students.

EF tours? Education First?!?!? They put their put their bank account first, and the customers dead last.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2020, 01:40 PM
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I am sorry for your experience. There is a lot of info on this and other forums about EF and other student travel companies. Their Insurance policy is quite clear on what is covered. Had you already paid in full? I hope you read all of the options available. It looks as if you have two years to use the money on another trip. Their info says through September 2022. It may not be perfect, but surely, you can find some time in two years to do that, so you do not lose so much. It also seems the company will let you trade, sell or give away the voucher for the trip, so you would not lose. Again, inconvenient, but at least an option. Good luck. You are alive. You can still make a trip from this.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2020, 05:26 AM
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These companies are now struggling to survive and I know that EF has made substantial investments in expanding their headquarters.
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Old Oct 6th, 2020, 02:40 PM
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sorry, I don't feel sorry for anyone with so much money they can send their high school kid on an expensive vacation. This is truly a first world problem. And one I have zero sympathy for. Some people can't afford to pay the rent, you know, or buy groceries.
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Old Oct 6th, 2020, 07:26 PM
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So take the money you would’ve spent and use it to take your daughter on a later trip to the same cities. She’ll have a better time, and potentially, you’ll even end up in the green. Those aren’t very expensive cities and whatever EF is charging is likely far too much for what you’d get. There have been several complaints about bad food and inconvenient lodging. There is some really fabulous lodging—small hotels and hostels—in that area—that you’d not stay at with a group. In comparison, I’ve stayed at a hostel in Berlin that clearly catered to groups like EF and it was hands down one of my worst hostel experiences. I made it four hours, and then checked in at a very nice hotel down the street.

i sympathize though. And I don’t think Christina would be thrilled if a company took $700+ from her regardless of circumstances.

btw: February doesn’t sound like a delightful time for that region. I think your kid dodged a bullet with that one.

adding: I think what might be missing is who cancelled. If school cancelled it, chances are you’re SOL. And I’m guessing the school cancelled it, because they figure that even if the kids are allowed to travel, they don’t want that responsibility on their hands. So other words, I’m unsure as to whether EF is the villain. In April, I’d bet the company cancelled, because there’s no way they could’ve done the trip.

Last edited by marvelousmouse; Oct 6th, 2020 at 07:32 PM.
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 05:21 PM
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KJD - Welcome to Fodor's forums. Hopefully you will stay and participate in the future besides this one venting complaint. It would be nice if your post was more about Worldstrides, the company that did a great job for you. There's really nothing we can do to help with the other situation.
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 07:06 PM
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I think the point of posting this is to make others aware of what the experience is if this company has to cancel a trip. There is nothing wrong with that and I disagree with Christina. To me that is a lot of money to lose. I may be out almost just as much from a cancelled trip and I’ve complained about it. The amount might not break me but it still hurts.
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by sassy27 View Post
I think the point of posting this is to make others aware of what the experience is if this company has to cancel a trip. There is nothing wrong with that and I disagree with Christina. To me that is a lot of money to lose. I may be out almost just as much from a cancelled trip and I’ve complained about it. The amount might not break me but it still hurts.
KJDegnan may be different but the vast majority of those who register to post complaints/rants are not heard from again. If they had taken as much time researching before booking as they did registering and composing the OP they probably wouldn't be in this fix. Few insurance policies are of any use with covid-related cancellations.
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Old Oct 7th, 2020, 09:08 PM
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It has been several years, but I have had experience with student travel companies, including EF.
First, this is not a defense, endorsement or condemnation of EF or any other student travel organization.

IMHO, EF is the budget of budget student travel. Accommodations, food, etc. are low end, again my opinion based on my experience. OTOH, the wonderful sights are the same you would see on a high end tour at twice the price, and the educational value depends on the teachers and the preparation of the students. These are not “trips of a life time” for adults, but can be life changing for students.
All of the rules and “outs” are very specific in all of the student contracts. Who actually reads them? Nobody. At least not a single parent or student who traveled with me, even when I called them and harped at them to do it.

The point of this post should be: Read the contract! Read the policy! Pay close attention to dates for everything from payments to cancellation to refunds, etc.

Marvelousmouse is spot on.
The questions in this case come down to cancellation dates and who cancelled? This year, Yes, refunds were given for cancelled trips because it was clear they were impossible. Some were put on hold, etc. Generally, people had to be patient and wait for companies to cancel.

The EF trip is not scheduled until Feb 2021, still four months out.
There is a good chance EF is still hoping for a vaccine or better travel news, and has not cancelled trips yet for 2021. That is absolutely their right. It is frustrating. It is inconvenient. EF will have to make a decision at some point. Before then, if schools or parents cancel early, there are financial consequences.

Did the school consult with parents as to their preferences, wait or go ahead? Had they consulted and negotiated with EF about possible settlements or just left it to parents?

Agree with Marvelousmouse again. That is a terrible time of year for that particular trip, a good reason for putting the money towards another trip. I am guessing this one was super cheap and would cost twice the price in Spring or Summer, but would be a much better trip. This time, besides reading all the fine print about finances and insurance, be very, very selective about the trip Itinerary (Some are great. Some are a lot of time on a bus) and good dates for weather.

You do not have to sign up with your school or group to use the student tour companies and a voucher for future travel. Prices are the same as long as there are two people or you do not mind sharing a room. Check first to make sure you won’t be charged for a single. One worry you can put aside is about a kid being free in Europe. My own opinion is they will be fine, and likely hang out with other kids on the tour. I would also hate to lose that amount of money, so would be inclined to take a voucher for future travel, but you then run the risk of a company going under or needing a pricier tour.
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Old Oct 8th, 2020, 02:28 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Few insurance policies are of any use with covid-related cancellations.
I got refunded almost this same amount for a non refundable hotel room that got canceled when the hotel closed and county closed their border to me due to Covid 19. So what if this was the first post by the OP. People can choose to ignore this if they want. Maybe the next person will read the cancellation policies better.
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