Colorado students take legal action after travel company cancels trip for COVID-19, withholds fees

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WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (KDVR) — Families across Colorado and the country are taking legal action against Wheat Ridge-based Voyageurs International Ltd. The company is accused of organizing international travel for high school students, canceling the trips and pocketing money families provided for the travel.

High school choir, band and orchestra students were planning to be in Europe during the summer of 2020, but the pandemic prevented that from happening. Parents say the cancellation was understandable, but they say the fees are unreasonable and unjust.

Mountain Vista High School graduate Camden Long saved money for the trip prior to graduation. He was working for minimum wage as a barista and was set to join classmates for the music-focused two-week educational adventure across Europe.

“Many of us had fully paid for the trip by November,” his mom, Jennifer Long, said.

Families paid more than $6,000 for the summer experience well before anyone heard of COVID-19, according to court filings. Long said the trip cancellation led Voyageurs International to withhold $1,900 from each family. Families say the withheld “cancellation fees” add up to roughly $5.7 million paid by about 3,000 students nationwide.

At issue is the company’s cancellation policy that is located in a contract parents signed. The policy and contract are currently part of litigation that could force an arbitration hearing for more than 200 student-musicians, according to the families’ media relations representative.

“When [Voyageurs International] said cancellation policy, I thought that that meant if we canceled and backed out,” Long said.

“I thought surely they would give us our money back with the exception of maybe a small amount,” Long said. “In essence, they really haven’t done anything for us other than send us a few mailings.”

Next month will mark a year since many families paid for the would-be cancelled trips.

FOX31 emailed multiple attorneys representing Voyageurs International for this report and was sent the following statement from James Campbell of CKBR:

“The matter will be arbitrated pursuant to the contract, and that should resolve all issues.  The question before the court is whether all the arbitrations should be consolidated or not.   Either way, the matter will proceed to arbitration.  As a result, we don’t want to comment on the merits of the case, but ask that you review the express contractual provisions.”

Currently, both sides are waiting on a Denver judge to make a ruling on legal interpretation prior to the possibility of the case being sent to a consolidated arbitration hearing.

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