State says tour company fleeced students

Posted at 4:20 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2, 2021


The Brillion News


MADISON – The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced Tuesday, February 2, that Voyageurs International, Ltd., will refund a total of $636,500 to 335 Wisconsin customers for payments made for the company’s 2020 European tour for school music students.

The Colorado-based company canceled the trip on March 17, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


As part of the cancellation, Voyageurs withheld a $1,900 cancellation fee from each high school music student and adult chaperone who had prepaid for the trip.

That resulted in a nationwide petition drive against Voyageurs, urging students and parents to complain to the Better Business Bureau and to state attorneys general.


(See https://www.change.org/p/voyageurs-international-extract-our-refund-from-voyageurs-international-ltd)


Voyageurs claimed that this fee was withheld due to non-refundable amounts paid to third-party vendors, as well as general operating costs of the business.

After receiving complaints from consumers and conducting a thorough investigation, DATCP found that Voyageurs actually received substantial refunds from these third-party vendors but failed to pass these recouped fees on to their customers.

“Cancelling events and tours during the pandemic is certainly understandable,” said Lara Sutherlin, head of DATCP’s Division of Trade and Consumer Protection. “However, businesses cannot misrepresent the fees they charge in the event of a cancellation. That is what happened here.”

That’s why the Consumer Protection bureau stepped in to ensure a fair resolution for Wisconsin consumers.

Under the agreement, Voyageurs will issue the refund to DATCP. The agency will then contact affected students and their families beginning in May of this year to arrange to get payments to them.



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