Cancelled ­Europe trip leaves Galt grads feeling left out in the cold

By Matthew Sylvester, Special to The Record

The graduating students at Alexander Galt were left with a financial headache to deal with over the summer after COVID-19 decimated their end of year trip plans. Instead of being able to enjoy the school’s long running Europe trip with friends and classmates this year, students were stuck quarantining at home, and some are out thousands of dollars.
EF Tours, or Education First, is the company that the school uses to plan and execute the trip each year. All the class needs to do is pick which countries they’d like to visit, and the company sets flight dates, picks hotels, and hires a professional tour guide for the group. This year the pandemic forced EF to cancel, and they don’t seem keen on handing out refunds.
“They gave us two options,” Said Angela Leith, one of the parents trying to get money back from the tour company, “make an insurance claim or get a voucher for EF Tours.” When she tried to go through her personal travel insurance agency, she was denied because a voucher from EF had been offered to her.
When she then returned to EF to try and claim the voucher instead, the response was court. “I’m done with your case,” was the response Leith was given. She says the company refused to offer the voucher because she had opted to pursue a refund her insurance agency instead.
The response to other parents varied. Darryl Harrison’s son Jakob was set to go on the trip this year, and his insurance denied a claim for the same reason. After a few weeks of correspondence, EF sent him a voucher over email.
To Harrison and his son, though, a voucher is almost useless. He explained that Jakob would be either working or in school with no vacation time to fit another 12-day long trip into his schedule before the voucher’s June 2022 expiry date. EF made the voucher transferable to family members or other students from the same school board, but Harrison says Galt might not be using EF again in the future.
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