Refund for Cancelled Summer Camp

Hello BPN parents - we recently received a message notifying us that one of the summer camps we signed our child up for in July has chosen to cancel their summer sessions because of CV-19. We signed our child up for two sessions (covering 4 weeks) coming to a total of $1600. The company offering credits or the option to donate tuition. I submitted an email inquiry about a refund (as that was not an option listed in the original email, notifying us of the cancellation and asking what we wanted done with our funds). I received a generic response that that the option to convert tuition to a donation or a future credit are the only options they can offer to emerge from this crisis. My family is fortunate in that we both still have our jobs and this was the only 4 weeks we had paid for in advance but I'd be lying if I wasn't worried about one or both of our jobs and/or income being affected by the looming economic downturn and that $1,600 isn't trivial. We will also need to look at other avenues for putting our child in summer camp or securing other care (i.e. we'll have to spend additional $ for this summer in addition to what I spent). I guess my question is -- what are others doing in similar situations? Are you accepting the credit(s) hoping you don't need that money and will just use next year? Any perspectives on similar experiences would be appreciated. 

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We had this happen too and are very frustrated, but able to handle the hit financially. Camp Galileo was the camp that issued this aggressive "no refunds - we're holding on to your money for summer 21" policy; other camps have been much better about either full refunds, or refunds minus the deposit. If I were in a tighter financial situation, I would escalate complaints, until I got to speak to a manager with the actual authority to make an exception and refund all or most of the funds. I would simply tell whoever picked up the phone I am very desperate and very angry, and don't want to scream at this person, so could he/she possibly pass me on to her manager. I would just repeat myself, and keep this up, and then ask to speak to her manager's manager until I got some kind of sensible settlement. 

I'm in the lucky position that our camp is offering credit for next year, donation or refund options, so some camps are offering refunds and I've been keeping track of the ones who do it and plan to support them more in the future as I think they are doing the right thing and try to avoid the camps that are pulling the no refund thing now.  For the camp my kids are enrolled in, we are voluntarily choosing the next-year credit option since we can afford it, know for a fact my kids will want to attend next year and are ok supporting them through this.  My concern with the credit is that some camps might go under and then you will never recover your money so credit only works if it is a camp you trust to stay in business or really like and ok supporting no matter what (which is the case with the one camp we are registered in, but I would not do it for all camps).  In terms of getting refunds, some camps can do it and do exceptions in which case you should call them and ask, while other camps (like Galieo) already stated publically that they are not doing refunds and there are no exceptions, in which case your only resort is contacting your credit card and see if they can help (I know parents who were able to get credit cards to help get money back by reversing the charge if the payment was relatively recent since the service is no longer being provided) or consider legal action (some parents are joining together and getting legal help together -- check facebook for groups being formed).  Do consider that going the credit card or legal action might end up succeeding but if many do it, it will likely lead the camp to declare bankruptcy or close, but if this is a camp that is not your regular and you are not ready to support it through this, then those are all reasonable options if you need the money back for other chilldcare this simmer since they are no longer providing the services you paid for. Good lucky!

For another perspective, there are businesses that will absolutely go under if they make full refunds. Not only do they - we - have expenses related to having to book, advertise and employ people to ready for this season which won't happen, they will absolutely go in the hole because they will have to eat all banking/charges. As someone who runs a small camp myself, I know this is incredibly stressful on small businesses - as you might imagine. We, too, understand these are hard times for all - and I'll bet local parents will have far fewer camp options in 2021 if everyone demands full refunds.  Let's all try be as kind during these tough times as possible. These camp businesses are not mega rich meanies, they are folks with whom you have (previous) entrusted your precious kids.

We had only signed up for a week of Galileo, and would theoretically be OK with a credit towards next summer, but I just filled out the survey they sent out Monday 4/27 (with a second email basically saying "woah, sorry, let's backtrack a bit and ask you what you would want, and if most of you would be OK w/ a 110% credit, then maybe we can issue the few requested refunds??") I asked for a refund. They should have accurate numbers of who wants/needs their money back. 

Some of the concert promoters got themselves in a legal bind over the failure to refund cash for canceled concerts.  Not my area of the law, but I would be very surprised if the state laws protecting consumers permitted a summer camp to do it.  You could ask, "Are you complying with the laws on consumer rights?"  And they might put you on the list of people they would not accept for the next summer.  Don't have a good answer for you, sorry.  You may very well have a strong legal case if you want the money back.  Getting it may not be easy.  There could be a down side.