- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Local Travel Company to Provide Refunds to Hundreds of Families for School Trips Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
BOSTON — A local travel company based in Pocasset will provide more than $100,000 in refunds to over 450 families for students whose educational tours were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AG’s Office has secured nearly $12 million in total travel refunds from various companies, resulting in payments to more than 6,000 consumers in Massachusetts.
Pursuant to an assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Carousel Student Tours, Inc. (Carousel) will provide $101,325 in cash refunds to 471 families who booked trips for students through its services.
“During this time of financial hardship for individuals and communities across our state, we know that any relief helps,” said AG Healey. “That’s why my office moved quickly to preserve this company’s few remaining assets and ensure that those funds went directly to families who were affected by these trip cancellations.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation into Carousel in June 2020 after receiving more than 200 complaints about the company related to cancellations. In the 2019/2020 school year, Carousel had contracted with families in the state to provide educational travel programs through their school districts, including Acton Boxborough Regional High School, Barnstable High School, Chenery Middle School of Belmont, Miles River Middle School (Hamilton-Wenham), Norwood High School, and Westwood High School, as well as a trip organized for Bourne Middle School students.
In early March, many of the trips booked through Carousel were cancelled because of government ordered travel bans, travel restrictions, and shelter-in-place orders arising from the COVID-19 public health emergency. Carousel offered families the option of a voucher for the full cost of the trip to be used for a future trip and for some families, offered a partial refund.
The AG’s investigation revealed that Carousel was insolvent and did not have the funds to provide full refunds or to guarantee the promised vouchers. The AG’s Office immediately requested that the company put its remaining capital—the $101,325 being refunded through the settlement—into an escrow account for distribution to affected consumers.
Under the terms of the settlement, Carousel will pay refunds to eligible Massachusetts consumers within 15 days of when the settlement was filed. The refunds will be distributed to affected families on a prorated basis.
The AG’s Consumer Protection Division enforces Massachusetts’ consumer protection law and protects consumers from fraud, deception, and other unfair practices. For complaints or questions about the consumer protection law, consumers may file a complaint with the office or call 617-727-8400.
The AG’s Office has prioritized protecting Massachusetts consumers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, AG Healey secured more than $500,000 from online travel company BookIt to provide full refunds to over 500 Massachusetts consumers after the company allegedly withheld payment to hotels for reservations already paid for by consumers, collected payments for travel reservations despite knowing they had been or would be cancelled, and refused to pay refunds. In May 2020, the AG’s Office announced it had secured more than $1.4 million in refunds from the Cambridge-based travel company EF Institute for Cultural Exchange Inc. and EF Explore America Inc. (EF) for trips cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visit AG Healey’s COVID-19 resource page for information about how the AG’s Office can provide support during this crisis.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Sarah Petrie and Deputy Division Chief Shennan Kavanagh, both of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from Consumer Specialist Grant Woodman, Supervising Consumer Specialist Melissa Armstrong and Senior Financial Investigator Colleen Frost.