Families in Woodstock still awaiting refunds from school trip cancelled months ago

Families in Woodstock are still waiting for refunds from a school trip cancelled five months ago due to COVID-19.

Some parents are still awaiting reimbursements of over $3,000

Naomi Force has been in contact with the insurance company and travel agency on behalf of her daughter Ocean. (Submitted: Naomi Force )

Families in Woodstock, Ont. are growing impatient as they still wait for refunds from a school trip cancelled 5 months ago. 

Huron Park Secondary School students were heading to Europe to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Canada's role in the liberation of the Netherlands. Students paid $4,018 for the trip, before the pandemic forced its cancellation. 

Most families have started receiving refunds from Explorica, the travel agency used to book the trip, but have yet to be reimbursed from Old Republic Insurance Company of Canada.

Connie Griffioen, whose daughter was scheduled to go on the trip, received $1,209 from Explorica and is still waiting to be refunded from Old Republic.

Madison Griffioen is owed thousands of dollars after the pandemic forced the cancellation of a school trip to Europe. (Supplied by Madison Griffioen)

She said Old Republic still owes her family $3,500. 

"I have emailed them. I have filed a formal complaint and I've also called them. As much as I've done, I think other families have tried the same and we're still stuck."

When Griffioen spoke to Old Republic, she said they informed her they had not received the proper documentation from Explorica needed to provide a refund. 

She then phoned Explorica, only to be told they had sent the documentation twice to the insurance company.

"Now the families are caught in the crossfires of Old Republic and Explorica."

Griffioen said Explorica has agreed to send the documents for the third time.

Being given the runaround

Naomi Force has also been in contact with the insurance company and travel agency on behalf of her daughter. She, too, feels she is being given the runaround. 

"It's getting very frustrating considering right now we're a one-income home and that money could really come in handy."

Force said her daughter, who's going into grade 11 at Huron Secondary School, has lost out on the trip of a lifetime.

"Nobody has control over COVID obviously, but it's not leaving a very good taste in our mouth to want to book with them again. That's for sure."

Force has received $1,600 back from Explorica and is still waiting to receive $1,900 from Old Republic. 

"Whatever we have to do to get this money back, we're going to get it back."

She said the insurance company had informed parents they might not see this money until the end of September, which Force said is unacceptable.

While both Griffioen and Force have received a refund back from Explorica, Rachel Meyer, whose daughter was also scheduled to attend the trip, has not received a cent.

Rachel Meyer has been advocating on behalf of her daughter Julianne, who's school trip was cancelled due to COVID-19. Meyer has yet to receive any money back from the insurance company or the travel agency. (Submitted: Rachel Meyer)

Last week she reached out to Explorica and was informed her cheques were issued on July 16. She said the representative assured her he would contact the finance department and get back to her. Meyer said she hasn't heard anything since.  

"I just hope this isn't a way for them to throw their arms up in the air and say, 'We don't have enough information and so I'm sorry, we're not paying out your claim'," the mother of the grade 11 student said. 

CBC reached out to insurer Old Republic for comment, but has yet to hear back.


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