Cancelled bus tour leaves family fuming
The cancellation of a spring break trip to Florida by a bus tour company has left some New Brunswickers questioning why the tours aren't provincially regulated.
Rose Levi booked a week-long trip to Florida with Jeannine Tours for her family costing more than $3,000. But the trip was cancelled by the Bathurst-based tour company the day before they were supposed to get on the bus, Levi said, and they haven't yet received a refund.
The cancelled trip has affected about 40 New Brunswickers who were supposed to depart for Florida on Feb. 29.
"I felt angry," Levi said. "We had our Blue Cross and stuff like that all organized. We went through the trouble of getting passports so we wouldn't have any trouble crossing the border and it cost a lot of money."
John Peters tried to go on a spring break trip with Jeannine Tours last year but was also told at the last minute the bus wouldn't be going.
The company said the trip had been overbooked, Peters said. He said he is still waiting for his $900 reimbursement.
"I thought they already had laws to protect consumers on any business. That's why I thought the government was there for us and so I assumed they're all licensed and legal to run a bus tour," Peters said.
Tour companies aren't regulated in New Brunswick, meaning anyone can start one and run it as they see fit.
"As of right now, and in most Canadian provinces, in this situation it is a case of buyer beware," said Valerie Kilfoil, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs.
Regulations in some provinces
Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec do regulate the tour providers and require them to be licensed to operate.
New Brunswick has previously explored regulating tour companies but found the market to be too small, Kilfoil said.
The department doesn't collect complaints on companies that aren't required to be registered with the province, she said, but it can offer consumer advice on how to deal with the situation.
The Association of Canadian Travel Agents has been examining ways to protect travellers in unregulated markets, said Ellen Tucker, Atlantic chair for the association.
"We're looking at doing this through our association so the people in these provinces aren't left out," Tucker said. The program will likely be introduced as a consumer protection plan, she said.
But for now travellers should research prospective tour companies before paying, she said.
Jeannine Tours has not returned phone calls from CBC News.