Q – 2.18.22 – We have tried to understand all of the information on Cruisetruth prepared for Crystal guests out their money. My husband and I are booked on a New England cruise that seems like it won’t operate. We called Mastercard and they said we are beyond the 60-day limit on claims so we are out of luck and will have to wait for Crystal to settle this with us. They said to call our travel agent. Our travel agent says Crystal has literally closed their doors and there is no one to speak to about our refund. Is she correct? What can we do now? We’re kind of desperate as this is just over $5,000 we are due. Thanks so much. 

A – What you were told by your credit card bank was not correct. Your situation should be protected by something called The Fair Credit Billing Act. If a merchant does not provide the services for which you contracted, in this case, a specific Crystal Cruise, your merchant credit card bank should protect you.

Call them again and explain the situation specifically mentioning the FCBA. Do not hang up until your credit card service center agrees to assist you with filing an official “credit card dispute”.

Once filed, Crystal will have 30 days to respond. They won’t and that will mean that you have “won” the dispute and your credit card company should reinstate the expenditure to your balance. 

What we have seen is that credit card companies will sometimes try to get out of setting up a FCBA chargeback procedure. They might tell you that you only had 60 days from the date of your original charge to file your challenge.

THIS IS NOT TRUE. There is one hidden detail that every consumer should know. When the chargeback is claimed against a merchant that is “bankrupt” and therefore “unreachable” the time allowed for a chargeback is extended, by common practice, by 120 days. 

No one will tell you this, You just have to know it and, if necessary, quote it to your credit card provider. Generally speaking, you will not have the right FCBA if more than 120 days has passed since you originally charged your card for the Crystal deposit.

If this does not work – carefully review your travel insurance policy. Many of these provide coverage known as “supplier default”. If the supplier you have booked goes out of business, as Crystal sadly has, you would be covered by this provision. 

What your travel agent has told you is correct. There is no one for a travel agent to contact. In order to protect your privacy, you will likely have to file the necessary paperwork directly.

What will happen going forward, if the above strategies do not work for you, is that a website will be advertised or sent to you which will handle registration for your refund claim. You will register online and you will then become an official claimant with the designated creditor officials. You may not be first in line but you will be on the list of those to whom Crystal owes refunds. Generally, Future Cruise Credits may not be claimed for cash refunds. 

We hope this is helpful and we wish you every success. Be patient – this can take several years to complete.