Debra and Nicholas Grimm saved for 18 months for an $18,000 dream holiday to Canada and Alaska to celebrate a 60th birthday last June.

The Grimms, accompanied by their best mates, Amanda and Malcolm Lockyer paid a total of $36,000 to Webjet for their bucket-list, 18-day holiday to experience Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and a Celebrity cruise to Alaska departing in June last year. Then Webjet cancelled the trip because of the pandemic.

Debra and Nicholas Grimm

So instead of their trip of a lifetime, the Grimms and Lockyers have spent the past year battling with Webjet to get a full refund. So far the Perth couples have had little success.

Instead, Webjet issued them with a credit voucher called Webjet eGift card, valid to rebook another holiday until April 2023. But the two couples just want their money back, and feel it is their right.

“It’s heart breaking. It was my dream holiday to celebrate my 60th birthday. We decided to go with my very good friend of 50 years, Amanda – we went to school together – and her husband, Malcolm. Now we have spent so much time arguing with Webjet, to get our money back. Webjet has refused to refund our money despite our repeated pleas. We just want our hard-earned money back,” Debra Grimm told Cruise Passenger.

She said that despite numerous emails to Webjet, no itinerary has been supplied to her.

“I don’t even know the name of the Celebrity cruise ship that would have taken us to Alaska,” she said.

To make matters worse, the past year has been particularly hard on her husband, who has been battling throat and eye cancer.

“We could approach Webjet again and get a refund for Nicholas on “medical hardship” grounds. But we shouldn’t have to go down this way. We need some protection and legislation in place to help all Australian travellers who are fighting to get back refunds for cancelled holidays.”

l-r: Nicholas, Debra,Malcolm and Amanda holidaying together

The Grimms and Lockyers are among thousands of Australians who have been caught in the refund and cancellation chaos that has plagued the travel industry since the pandemic hit last March.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also become involved with rising number of complaints from travellers battling to get refunds for their flights and cruise holidays.

Consumer advocate Adam Glezer who is leading Travel Industry Issues – the Need for Change for Australians told Cruise Passenger: “I find it staggering that Webjet is not even willing to refund or disclose all the companies and suppliers involved in the holiday to Debra Grimm.

“That’s just not good enough. Webjet should itemise exactly where the money is being held and which travel companies are involved. Any money that Webjet is able to get back should be passed back to the consumers. After all, it is their money.

“A review of the Australian consumer laws to include the right to a refund for a situation such as this, is definitely needed.

“A parliamentary enquiry into travel is paramount.”

Webjet declined to comment.