Sandals Resorts Refuse to Refund

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Nov 12, 2019
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#1
In June of this year, we planned to stay at a Sandals property for our honeymoon. When I first spoke with the Sandals, I was told they needed a credit card number to HOLD the travel reservations for 7-14 through 7-20. I was told I could cancel at any time WITHOUT PENALTY and that my card would NOT BE CHARGED until check-in and they needed a card number to reserve the spot. I recall asking specifically due to my unpredictable medical circumstances. In summary, I’m a police officer in CA and I was injured on duty. After surgery, I was restricted from flying due to a potential for blood clot which could be life threatening. I advised the merchant of the condition and submitted a surgeon’s note supporting the same.

Since Thursday, 6-20-19, when I first noticed the FRAUDULENT / UNAUTHORIZED charges on our American Express account, I made several attempts to contact the merchant to cancel / refund, but I was told they were only “holds”; however, I told the merchant they were in fact posted charges. I was then transferred to a different person several times to someone else who I was assured would be able to remove the “accidental” charges. Each time I was transferred, I was told the same thing: That person could not help me and they would need to transfer me to someone else. Each time I was placed on hold for a minimum of 20 minutes for the purpose of what I believe was to try to get me to give up. After being transferred multiple times and placed on hold for at least an hour all together each time I tried calling, the end result was that the matter would be escalated to a “supervisor” who they would not allow me to speak with, but had the authority to reverse the unauthorized charges. This “review” would take up to 3 days for a response and that they would get back to me once the refund was issued. After several calls back to the merchant, explaining the above circumstances, and ending up with the same “we will escalate and call you back”, which went on for over 2 weeks , on Sunday, 7-7-19, during one of my follow-up calls, a customer service rep thought they put me on hold (same delaying antics), but I was able to hear a conversation that took place between them and what sounded like a co-worker. The two were laughing about my request and joked about how they were never going to give us our money back (money that we never authorized them to charge to our card in the first place). When the rep came back on the line, I advised them I heard the conversation they were having and only then did they agree to cancel our “reservations” with the same promise to get back to me within 3 days with a promise to refund.

I understand now that the merchant has a cancellation policy and that they refused to cancel our reservations until we were within the “no refunds allowed” time period. As indicated above, we NEVER authorized any charges to our card, NEEVER made an agreement to pay ANYTHING and we were NEVER told about a cancellation policy. If you conduct a Google search of the merchant, there are HUNDREDS of people who report having gone though the same thing. People are charged without permission and when they attempt to cancel, they try for weeks and cancellation is only authorized once within the “no cancellation policy” time period. The merchant then provides their policy to the credit card disputes department. Only difference is, other people get their money back from the credit card company. I don’t understand why American Express (of all card companies) is having an issue with this when the merchant cannot provide proof of ANYTHING because we did not agree to ANYTHING! The merchant is running a SCAM. It is incumbent of the merchant to produce proof of authorization to charge a card, IT NEVER HAPPENED! We NEVER agreed to pay for a reservation and we attempted to cancel IMMEDIATELY beginning 6-20-19, upon discovery of the fraudulent charges on our account.

We have disputed this since BEFORE the travel dates and each time I am told we are out of luck because we cancelled after the allotted time to cancel per the merchant’s policy. Each time I receive this un-applicable” response, I call Amex back and explain the below:

I have acquired a medical condition which restricts me from flying/traveling. I advised the merchant of the condition and submitted a doctor’s note supporting the same.

I was told when I placed the reservation HOLD, I can cancel at anytime without penalty, as mentioned above.

A hold will only be placed on the card to secure the reservation, it will not be charged until we arrive.

I was NOT provided ANY written cancellation policy.

I DID NOT sign any cancellation policy acknowledgement.

I DID NOT enter into an agreement; contractual, verbal, or written at any time with the merchant to pay for ANYTHING. I DID NOT sign any authorization, click an “I agree” button on a website, or verbally agree to allow them to charge my card. The charges are FRAUDULENT, as they were made WITHOUT my permission / authorization.

Each time I call back to explain to Amex that this is not a case of late cancellation to normal reservations, and explain the above (NEVER AGREED TO CHARGE ANYTHING OR PAY FOR ANYTHING), the Amex rep contacts the disputes AND fraud departments while I’m on the phone. Each time, they are told to move forward with re-initiating the claim process and that I should not have to pay for the FRAUD. This has happened with Amex approximately 6 times since July.

Amex is refusing to assist at this point and I’m responsible for paying $2948.82 to Unique Vacations Inc for the trip I never went on. Please help us get a refund for the honeymoon we never went on as the result of medical restrictions. We have not been provided a good or a service (nobody is out anything). All other entities, including airlines have already refunded our money due to the circumstances with exception to this hotel (who was the one entity who we NEVER agreed to pay until arrival).
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#2
I have never heard of Sandals only placing a hold only- you make a deposit and then there is a final payment date. We’ve sold Sandals for 17 years and this is not a resort that only puts a hold on a are and you pay at the resortid you book directly with Sandals?

You should have received an email confirmation when you booked with payment dates and the refund policy. What does your confirmation say?

Does the credit car you used to pay offer any type of travel insurance?
 
Likes: VoR61
Nov 12, 2019
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#3
Yes, booked directly with Sandals. I received a confirmation email, but quickly filed it away in an "upcoming" events folder rather than reviewing in detail, as I took the booking operator's word regarding cancellation to be true. Also, a friend recently booked an all inclusive with another resort and I was told he paid upon arrival, so I didn't think twice about it.

All that aside, and regardless of whether a "hold", a deposit, or payment in full, we attempted to cancel well withing the cancellation period as I indicated in my initial post, and was given the runaround and delayed / stalled until cancellation was not allowed. Apparently a tactic experienced by others as well (Google) used to And again, I never entered into any agreement with Sandals other than to hold a reservation (no contract, nothing signed, no charges authorized). And no, we didn't opt for travel insurance, as we were told we could cancel at any time without penalty (also mentioned in the original post) and it was not offered when making the reservation.
 
Nov 12, 2019
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#4
Yes, booked directly with Sandals. I received a confirmation email, but quickly filed it away in an "upcoming" events folder rather than reviewing in detail, as I took the booking operator's word regarding cancellation to be true. Also, a friend recently booked an all inclusive with another resort and I was told he paid upon arrival, so I didn't think twice about it.

All that aside, and regardless of whether a "hold", a deposit, or payment in full, we attempted to cancel well withing the cancellation period as I indicated in my initial post, and was given the runaround and delayed / stalled until cancellation was not allowed. Apparently a tactic experienced by others as well (Google) used to And again, I never entered into any agreement with Sandals other than to hold a reservation (no contract, nothing signed, no charges authorized). And no, we didn't opt for travel insurance, as we were told we could cancel at any time without penalty (also mentioned in the original post) and it was not offered when making the reservation.
American Express said we need to resolve with Sandals. Sandals laughs me off the phone every time I call.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#5
What date did you book the trip? Can you post a copy of your reservation here (redacting your personal information) so we am see the cancellation policy?

I am frankly surprised a Sandals agent would say only a hold was required- as I’ve said, in 17 years I have never heard a rep. say this. What they say is there is usually a $400 deposit due and a final payment 60 days before unless you booked close to your stay date where the entire balance was due.

Your issue is that you didn’t read the confirmation which has the information in it. You should never just file it away without reading as it’s a contract you agree to by booking. I’m also not sure you friend who told you that they didn’t have to pay for their all inclusive until they arrived us being truthful either- this is very rare that it will happen.
This is in their terms and conditions:

Deposit, Payment & Cancellation Terms [LOYALTY & TRAVEL BOOKING/RESERVATIONS, DEPOSIT, PAYMENT, CANCELLATION TERMS, SPECIAL DEPOSIT AND PAYMENT SEE CLAUSES 7 AND 8]:A deposit of $400 per room plus airfare (if reserved through Unique Travel) is required to secure a reservation. An initial payment of $98 plus the airfare is due when making a booking and the balance of $302 is due 21 days after the initial payment. The credit card used for the initial payment will automatically be charge the balance of $302. Consent to auto charge the credit card for the remaining deposit amount of $302 and full payment is given to Unique Travel Corp at the time that the booking is made. Due to high demand and limited availability the initial payment of $98 per room is not applicable during holiday periods or for any of the over-the-water suites or bungalows. Bookings made 45 days or less prior to Arrival must be paid in full when booking. Unique Travel may cancel any booking and release any Hotel or air reservation for which payment has not been received at least 45 days prior to Arrival. The date for full and final payment may be subject to change during certain periods. Guest's invoice will provide notice of any such change. Payment and cancellation policy may vary during holiday periods (see Clause #5- Special Deposit and Payment).

The $98 deposit information is if you cannot pay the full $400 at time of booking they allow you to pay $98 initially and then charge the remaining $302 21 days after the initial deposit. If it’s less then 45 days before you, the full balance has to be paid.

Did you send them the cancellation in writing or was it verbal? We have company contacts for Sandals. I would suggest you pull all your phone records for the days you say you called so you have written proof of the calls being within the cancellation period if you booked it far enough in advance. You can ask Unique to pull the phone records of the call if they still have them to prove you called to cancel, and they might also be able to pull the transcript of your initial call to see what the rep said. The rep should have advised you that you needed to consider travel insurance.


https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/sandals/

This is how to write- please read it carefully start at the bottom, e-mail one executive at a time leaving a week in between emails and not attaching anything unless the ask for it.
 
Nov 12, 2019
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#6
Thank you for the information and taking the time to respond. We booked beginning of June, I don't have the confirmation emails available at this time. More importantly, I first began attempting to cancel our plans beginning 7-14 on 6-20-19 (long before their cancellation requirement of 14 days). All records (including phone) corroborate. I'll begin reaching out to their executive staff. Any info or recommendations on filing a small claims suit?
 
Jul 30, 2018
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#7
Thank you for the information and taking the time to respond. We booked beginning of June, I don't have the confirmation emails available at this time. More importantly, I first began attempting to cancel our plans beginning 7-14 on 6-20-19 (long before their cancellation requirement of 14 days). All records (including phone) corroborate. I'll begin reaching out to their executive staff. Any info or recommendations on filing a small claims suit?
Small claims suits are legal matters and beyond the scope of this forum; we don't give legal advice. You should write to the company contacts we have listed. Start with the first one listed, wait one week before writing to the next one. Do not write all of them simultaneously, doing so may result in your email going to spam. Do not start with the CEO because if this person says "no" there is no one else to appeal to. Write down just the facts, in bullet points. Keep in mind that the person reading your email did not cause your problem, yet is in position to help you. I think you would have better luck asking for a credit to use toward another trip, rather than a cash refund. After all, you did receive a confirmation email but did not immediately read it.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#8
This would be my recommendation for your email content
Your post is quite long to read, and might be better received/deciphered in a bulleted format
  • In June of this year, we contacted Sandals about a Jul 14-20 stay at the XXXX Sandals property.
  • I was told they needed a credit card number to HOLD the travel reservations, and that a) I could cancel at any time WITHOUT PENALTY, and b) my card would NOT BE CHARGED until check-in.
  • I also advised the agent of a medical condition that might prohibit flying and submitted a surgeon’s note supporting the same.
  • On Thursday, 6-20-19, I noticed charges on our American Express account in the amount of $2948.82, and asked Sandals to cancel / refund, but I was told they were only “holds”.
  • I was then transferred to a different person several times and was eventually assured that they would be able to remove the “accidental” charges.
  • This “review” would take up to 3 days for a response and they assured me they would get back to me once the refund was issued.
  • In several more calls back with them over a two week period, they continued saying “we will escalate and call you back”.
  • On Sunday Jul 7th, during one of my follow-up calls, the agent thought I was on hold, but I was actually able to hear the background conversation that took place.
  • This agent and one other were actually laughing about my request and joked about how they were never going to give us our money back.
  • This ongoing refusal to cancel our reservations has now lasted until we were within the “no refunds allowed” time period.
Specifically, I would omit accusations like "to try to get me to give up" and "same delaying antics". Let your facts lead them to the proper conclusion.

* IMPORTANT: when you reach out to the corporate level *
Do not use inflammatory language - be polite and professional
Do not attach files - their email system may discard your email before anyone reads it
Do not start with the CEO - begin at the lowest level in the company contacts
Present a brief summary (list) and give each contact one (1) week to respond before escalating to the next level
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
Thank you for the information and taking the time to respond. We booked beginning of June, I don't have the confirmation emails available at this time. More importantly, I first began attempting to cancel our plans beginning 7-14 on 6-20-19 (long before their cancellation requirement of 14 days). All records (including phone) corroborate. I'll begin reaching out to their executive staff. Any info or recommendations on filing a small claims suit?
Do you have any documentation as to what you were told? Online it says about refunds—
  • If notice is received 30 to 15 days prior to Arrival, 50% of the purchase price, including any applicable airline fees.
If the first date the cancellation was tried was 6/20 then it was within that 30 day window for a trip starting on July 14.

Could there have been a misunderstanding that there was 2 weeks to cancel without penalty — if trip was booked on June 1 cancellation without penalty would be June 14.

I hope you do get a positive resolution, but be careful of using inflammatory language about fraud etc. You need to consider the people reading the request — they may have received a traffic violation or similar and may have claimed not to see sign etc. and be told ignorance is no excuse. The fact that an email was received and not opened is not in your favor same with the rational that a friend booked another all inclusive at a different resort and paid upon arrival— that has zero relevance.

Be polite and ask for an exception. Would you accept a voucher for future use?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,723
20,273
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
Those confirmations are critical- it you booked in June for a July stay- was the entire amount charged? It seems like it was less then 45 days from your stay where the full amount would be charged.

You say you booked early June but if your card was charged June 20- thats when you booked. Your card is charged the day you book. If you booked June 20 for a stay July 14 - that is less than 30 days and brings you to penalty.

We need to see a copy of your reservation.
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,723
20,273
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
Do you have any documentation as to what you were told? Online it says about refunds—
  • If notice is received 30 to 15 days prior to Arrival, 50% of the purchase price, including any applicable airline fees.
If the first date the cancellation was tried was 6/20 then it was within that 30 day window for a trip starting on July 14.

Could there have been a misunderstanding that there was 2 weeks to cancel without penalty — if trip was booked on June 1 cancellation without penalty would be June 14.

I hope you do get a positive resolution, but be careful of using inflammatory language about fraud etc. You need to consider the people reading the request — they may have received a traffic violation or similar and may have claimed not to see sign etc. and be told ignorance is no excuse. The fact that an email was received and not opened is not in your favor same with the rational that a friend booked another all inclusive at a different resort and paid upon arrival— that has zero relevance.

Be polite and ask for an exception. Would you accept a voucher for future use?
There may be two weeks IF you book more than 45 days out. We’ve booked Sandals for 17 years and the only time a card is charged is the day the reservation is made in our 17 years of experience. So if you were charged on June 20th - that is more likely the date you booked.

It is imperative the OP tells us what the reservation form said- we have to have the firm dates on the confirmation. If she booked more than 45 days out - we might be able to help her show Sandals that she booked outside the penalty dates. Sandals has the confirmation and apparently is going by what they have. Having the precise date will allow Sandals to see if they still have the phone conversation to review and see if the agent actually told you incorrect info, or can be the difference in getting your money back.
 
Last edited:

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
3,894
3,959
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#12
Thank you for the information and taking the time to respond. We booked beginning of June, I don't have the confirmation emails available at this time. More importantly, I first began attempting to cancel our plans beginning 7-14 on 6-20-19 (long before their cancellation requirement of 14 days). All records (including phone) corroborate. I'll begin reaching out to their executive staff. Any info or recommendations on filing a small claims suit?
Without the confirmation emails you have no case. You need to search your email box.