Watch CBS News

Many Aren't Getting Money Back After Canceling Prepaid Plans Due To Coronavirus

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chances are you've canceled a vacation, or crossed a concert off the calendar, all in the name of COVID-19.

A total of 50 million people have done so.

CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman on Monday looked into whether you can get your money back.

"I was devastated," said Anna Mugg. "It was really upsetting for them to cancel the program."

Atlantis offered a two-week program for students to observe European hospitals and get credit for clinical hours for medical school. Mugg was supposed to go to Ponte Vedra, Spain.

The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the program.

Mugg had three jobs - including teaching figure skating and as a nanny - to prepay nearly all of the $3,000 program costs.

She was shocked when the company cited a clause in its contract, saying if it cancels it will credit the money toward a future fellowship - in her case, next summer, when she can't do it.

"The best they can do is have me transfer my money to a different student and have myself pay for the student fees, and hopefully, have that student pay me back," Mugg said.

And that puts the onus on Mugg to get the money back.

"There's no assurance that student is going to pay that money back," she said.

Now a study by Bankrate, a consumer finance advisory firm, has found that Mugg is not alone.

"We found that 59 million people have lost money because of one of these cancellations," said Ted Rossman of Bankrate. "We don't know exactly how much that equates to in dollar amounts, but it definitely is going to be a substantial number."

Bankrate surveyed more than 2,600 people who prepaid for plans that got cancelled. It found 47 percent got money back, 15 percent got nothing, and 12 percent are unresolved.

Anna Mugg is one of those 12 percent. And she said she "absolutely" feels ripped off – especially after Atlantis told her and CBS 2 that they have already spent the money and can't get it back.

Mugg said that is not an excuse.

"I feel the company should be reimbursing me for a service I did not receive," she said.

Especially after Atlantis told her and CBS2 that they have already spent the money and can't get it back.

"I feel the company should be reimbursing me for a service I did not receive," Anna said. "It was a life lesson for sure, and I think going forward, I am not going to be as trusting with different companies, especially companies offering a service that you pay a lot of money toward, and when you pay up front."

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Attorney General says consumers should make sure when they pay for a service to find out, preferably in writing, what the refund policy is. And if you don't get what you paid for, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General's office.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.