Find out how these real consumers exercised their rights and secured a refund after struggling to reach a solution with a travel agency.

Consumer story: Travel agency forced to return refund to consumers 

Wendy* and Glenn* were on vacation in Argentina when they heard about a family emergency and decided to cut their trip short to get home to their loved ones. Wendy and Glenn asked their travel agent if they could get a refund for any unused travel services, such as flights and tours, and they declined. The travel agent explained the trip was non-refundable, as written in their policy.  

Wendy and Glenn were disappointed but understood that these were the terms and conditions they agreed to when they purchased the travel. They booked new, earlier flights and returned home. 

After dealing with the family emergency, Wendy decided to reach out to the airline directly in the hopes they could get a refund for the original unused flights.  

“The airline was very accommodating. They said they would absolutely be willing to refund us,” said Wendy. 

The airline had to issue the refund to the original form of payment, which meant the money went back to the travel agency first. Thrilled that they were able to recoup some of their funds, Wendy reached out to the travel agency to coordinate getting their refund once the airline confirmed that the money had been returned to the agency.  

“I got the runaround from them for almost a year,” says Wendy. “First, [the travel agency] was claiming the refund hadn’t come through yet, even though I had proof that it had.” 

Eventually, to Wendy and Glenn’s surprise, the travel agency admitted they had received the refund from the airline and that they would be keeping it. 

Believing that the travel agency was acting in bad faith, Wendy began researching her rights and was directed to Consumer Protection BC. Even though Wendy and Glenn were based in the United States, the travel agency was in BC, meaning it was licensed and regulated by Consumer Protection BC. 

Looking back, Wendy explains her relief when she learned that there was an agency that could help after not getting anywhere with the business, despite her efforts. 

“It was a nightmare. I couldn’t believe that there was no recourse,” says Wendy. “I was so happy to find out that Consumer Protection BC existed.” 

After contacting Consumer Protection BC for help and providing their information, Wendy and Glenn’s complaint was escalated to the compliance and enforcement department. The inspector advised the travel agency that keeping the refund was consistent with an unconscionable act, meaning the conditions in a transaction are inequitable.  

After lots of back and forth with Consumer Protection BC, the travel agency eventually agreed to give Wendy and Glenn the refund from the airline, totaling nearly $3,500 USD. 

When asked about her takeaways from the experience, Wendy encourages others not to give up and to do research if they run into a consumer issue. 

“Keep searching and climb up the next rung. Be knowledgeable and try to get the information you need to seek out possible solutions.” 

*Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. 

Where to go for more information

We license and regulate travel agencies in BC and oversee certain aspects of their business practices. The laws protect any consumer who deals with a BC business. Depending on the issue, we may be able to help. Learn more about the rules for travel agencies in BC.  

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About Consumer Protection BC

We are not-for-profit regulator responsible for overseeing certain industries and specific consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will try to offer a referral to a relevant organization, if one exists. Other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at