Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia woman upset over company's 'money grab' refund policy during COVID-19

Canadians who paid for events that have been cancelled in light of COVID-19 are finding some companies are issuing refunds without any questions asked, while others have credit-only policies.

Tracy Graham paid more than $2,300 to, but company will only offer credit

Tracy Graham, her husband and two kids were supposed to go see the Toronto Blue Jays play in a spring training game in Montreal, but the game was recently cancelled and no makeup date has been announced. (Submitted by Tracy Graham)

Canadians who paid for events that have been cancelled in light of COVID-19 are finding some companies are issuing refunds without any questions asked, while others have credit-only policies.

"I feel like it's a money grab," said Tracy Graham of West Chezzetcook, N.S., about her experience trying to get a refund from for the $2,347.83 she spent on tickets for two Toronto Blue Jays spring training games in Montreal.

The family vacation was to include her parents, husband, son and daughter. The group rented a van, booked three nights in two different hotels and purchased 12 baseball tickets in anticipation of seeing the games at Olympic Stadium on March 23 and 24, but Graham received an email on March 18 telling her the games were cancelled.

"Since no new date has been announced, we will email you a full credit towards your next Blue Jays tickets purchase or any other event on our website," the email from said. "Due to the large wave of postponed and cancelled events, please allow 2 to 4 weeks for receipt of this credit."

Graham called and emailed the company in an effort to get her money back, but was told a refund would not be given.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies play a Grapefruit League spring training game at Spectrum Field on March 05, 2020, in Clearwater, Fla. Opening day for Major League Baseball has been pushed back until at least mid-May. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

"I was travelling with my parents who are seniors, have health issues and are on a fixed income," said Graham, adding she has no plans to travel anytime in the future.

CBC News contacted for comment, but it did not respond.

The Toronto Blue Jays issued full refunds to anyone who purchased tickets directly from them or through Ticketmaster.

While Graham said she's disappointed with, she said the response from Enterprise for the van rental and the hotel bookings through Quality Inn and Hôtel Brossard were completely different.

"I simply called each location and stated we needed to cancel due to the fact the games were cancelled and everyone had no issue and was pleasant to work with," said Graham.

Quality Inn is part of the Choice Hotels group, as is Comfort Inn. As of March 19, the company changed its cancellation policies, allowing people to cancel even non-cancellable reservations without charge.

From left to right: Natalie Spooner, Erin Ambrose, Blayre Turnbull, Jocelyne Larocque and Sarah Nurse of Canada celebrate a goal during the 2019 IIHF Women's Ice Hockey World Championships. This year's tournament was scheduled to be played in Halifax and Truro, N.S., but has since been postponed until next year. (Heikki Saukkomaa/AFP via Getty Images)

"For guests with existing individual reservations, including reservations with non-cancellable, pre-paid rates made directly with Choice Hotels, we will allow changes or cancellation without a charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival as long as the change or cancellation is made by April 30, 2020," the website says.

Many other hotels appear to be doing the same. Hotel chains including Holiday Inn, Intercontinental and Crowne Plaza, which are all part of the IHG family, are all allowing cancellations without penalty.

Hilton hotels across North America are doing the same.

"Any reservation up to the end of April, even those that are non-refundable, can be cancelled for a full refund," said Olivier Rohrbacher, the operations manager at the Hollis Halifax, a DoubleTree Suites by Hilton property.

Graham is hoping other businesses follow the lead of the hotel and car rental companies she dealt with and change their policies to allow refunds. Hockey Canada did this for tickets to the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia after the tournament was cancelled March 7.

Officials initially announced in a conference call to reporters that there would be no refunds and the tickets would be honoured when the championships returned to Halifax and Truro in 2021. The organization later clarified its policy and is now issuing refunds.

'Did we specifically say refund?'

Dean McIntosh, vice-president of events and properties with Hockey Canada, said the initial communication with ticket buyers could have been clearer.

"At that time, did we specifically say refund? No, we did not. Did we say that we'd be in direct contact with each one individually to support them? Yes, we did," he said.

McIntosh said around 70 to 75 per cent of people plan to hold on to their tickets, with the rest of people either seeking full or partial refunds.