Charlotte, North Carolina
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"This company is a scam. BEWARE PARENTS.

We had the Full Refund Protection for $150 - but they do not honor it.

I signed my daughter up for a trip to DC in Oct 2011 and paid $75--the trip is for May 21, 2012.

I paid nothing else and considered the trip cancelled, knowing they would keep the $75 for cancellation penalty. No Problem.

In MARCH 2012 Julie, one of their reps kept calling me to change my mind and send my daughter on this trip and PAY MORE of the $900 trip fee.

Finally I gave in (they know how to make you feel guilty about not doing everything you can for your child) and gave them $250 on March 21st 2012.

Then I had a medical emergency (retina detachment) March 29 --8 days later....and formally cancelled the trip in writing--that took about 3 attempts of mailing, faxing, calling and emailing then they finally responded that they had 'received' the notice.

They refuse to refund the $250 they took on March 21st. That's a hefty penalty for 8 calendar days of taking my money.

I am very disappointed that my daughters private school works with this company.

MY ADVICE: DO NOT RESPOND TO THEIR ONGOING DIRECT CALLS AND SOLITATION begging you to let your child 'be with ALL of her other friends on this great educational trip"

YOU CAN HUNT ALL OVER THE WEBSITE and good luck finding the fact that you are AUTOMATICALLY enrolled in the Full Refund Program for $150...you will NOT get a refund even if you are in the FULL REFUND PROGRAM. It doesn't matter that THEY SOLICIT YOU to restart the program 6 weeks before the trip.

I am reporting this company to the BBB, State Attorney General and of course to my private school AND EVERY WEBSITE I CAN FIND.

Parents need to protect other Parents.

PARENTS BEWARE. AVOID THIS COMPANY.

Lisa 704-363-3333 You can call me with any questions.

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lwjunk
Minnetonka, Minnesota, United States #933621

Hi Lisa - Here is my response to the offer from Worldscapes via the Better Business Bureau:

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I have reviewed the offer made by the business in reference to complaint ID XXXXXXX, and have determined that this proposed action would not resolve my complaint.For your reference, details of the offer I reviewed appear below.

Because, I believe I was automatically signed up for the Full Refund Program (FRP) by default and not by choice.

I also believe the FRP is, in fact, another deposit as it is not refundable past seven days of purchase. It does give an explanation as to what it covers in the confirmation email. However, when a confirmation email is sent, there should be no surprises. A consumer is not looking for additional charges once the confirmation is sent, but rather if the amount adds up to what was shown at check-out.

I don't believe this to be the right time to give an explanation of fees for a sub-program in which a consumer is automatically enrolled. I can see how this could benefit someone who pays the entire cost of the trip or 50% or more of the entire cost of the trip, but to take my deposit AND the $179 FRP fee when I only paid $400 is ludicrous. Worldstrides must make hundreds of thousands of dollars just from cancelations alone! In their confirmation letter they state, "Last year, we returned more than $5 million to 9,000 families enrolled in the program.” Do the math: $99 + $179 = $278 x 9000 (people) =...

Plus, tack on on an additional $6.00 per month if you don't follow their fee schedule ($6.00 x 9000 = $54,000) AND $15.00 late fee ($15.00 x 9000 = $135,000) if you are a few days late with your installment. Wow. The sad part being that very few actually questioned it or took action to recover their costs. Why are public schools even doing business with this company?

I believe it is based on this: trust - any company who is doing business with school children must have their best interest in heart, right? Exactly the angle this company has taken. This is their M.O. They actually make MORE money if people cancel their trip - to the tune of nearly $3,000,000.

Think if this money was returned to the school system what programs and underprivileged families it could benefit.

I also want to mention that it is very hard to find any information on their website. (They operate two websites: www.worldstrides.org and www.worldstridesdiscovernow.org both from which I have received email communications.) An exact itemized statement/replica of one's transaction (screen captures or other) is invisible making it even harder to see what you are being charged for. Unfortunately, I cannot go back and replicate my checkout process to verify any of this. However, several other consumers have posted the same or similar complaints of bait-and-switch tactics and fraudulent charges.

It's all about principal for me.

It is just plain wrong what they are doing. I don't have a problem with them keeping my $99 deposit. But isn't the $179 FRP in fact a deposit, too? Why not just call it a $278 non-refundable deposit and state this clearly?

I believe they call it something different so they can somehow justify and hopefully sneak this charge in under the radar. Please see my attachments for additional documentation. There are three emails from Worldstrides customer care within these attachments. Notice on email 3 attachment she does not answer my question asking if I would get any money back if I wasn't enrolled in FRP.

As you can see, I am not alone in my dissatisfaction and feelings of being taken by this company.Regards, Lisa W.

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