99ºF

Attorney explains how consumers can get money back for canceled trips and events

HOUSTON – From the world renown Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to once-in-a-lifetime events like weddings and bar mitzvahs, many events have been canceled because of the coronavirus.

Michelle Rogers and Nora McMordie of Rogers Travel in Houston paid nearly $26,000 for airline tickets to the Bahamas. The trip was canceled due to the outbreak and now all that money is about to vanish.

“We gave them approximately $26,000 and they’re saying the tickets cannot be refunded, they cannot be used for future travel. That they just go straight in the trash. Unbelievable," McMordie said.

During this coronavirus crisis, how do you get the money you’ve already spent on canceled events back?

KPRC 2 went to get answers from consumer advocate and attorney Dana Karni with Lone Star Legal Aid.

Step One

Send a demand letter to the business that has your money, let them know you are serious.

“I might encourage a consumer to send out a demand letter, first and foremost, requesting that their money be returned out of fairness. The purpose of the demand letter is to let the vendor know, and put them on notice, that the event has been canceled, not because of the consumer, not because the consumer wanted to cancel, but the consumer wants their money back," Karni said.

Step Two

You’ve got their attention now, make the best argument you can.

“I think the best argument you can make is going to be that this was outside of my control. I didn’t cancel the event. The consumer might very well be able to argue that the contract was breached by the vendor," Karni said.

Step Three

If that doesn’t work, rather than get nothing, ask if you can reschedule the event later.

“At the end of the day, I might advise consumers to get in touch with the event people and see if they can plan it for another day. Ask can it be rescheduled six months later down the road or something," Karni said.

Step Four

Take the business to small claims court and argue your case before a judge.

“These days you can sue in small claims court for up to ten-thousand-dollars, but in September of 2020, that law is changing and the limit will then be raised to twenty-thousand-dollars, double the amount allowed now," Karni said.

Lone Star Legal Aid offers free legal services to low-income individuals. If you have a complaint, you want to organization to look into, contact them online at on their website, www.lonestarlegal.blog.