COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Many 8th grade trips to the Nation’s Capital have been canceled due to COVID-19 and many families across Central Ohio whose schools went through Prodigy Student Travel will not be getting a full refund.
“Our daughter is devastated that she can’t go on this trip,” said parent Amy Davis. It’s a feeling a lot of 8th grade parents can relate to.
“She was very excited just to be able to go and see the city and all of the places she is learning about. Also to spend time with her friends I think we all have fond memories of our 8th grade trip if we took it, says Davis.
What makes it worse said Davis, is that the company organizing the trip, Prodigy Student Travel isn’t offering a full refund and is keeping the $120 dollar deposit made by parents of Dublin Davis Middle School students.
“We know very well how many people really need this money right now and I don’t feel it should go to a CEO’s pocket when it was paid out in good faith that our students would be going on this trip.”
President of Worthington-based Prodigy Student Travel Kerry Wimsatt, spoke to us over the phone. and said the deposits are to pay for costs they incurred while planning the trips — like salaries, health insurance and bills associated to the business, and that parents at Dublin Davis Middle school are actually getting a better refund than other schools at 85 percent, thanks to negotiations with the school district.
The district told parents to contact Prodigy Student Travel if they have questions. “We followed the instructions they sent us and tried to contact them via e-mail and they never responded to us,” said Davis.
Wimsatt also told NBC4 that parents signed off on paperwork stating they wouldn’t get a full refund if the trip was canceled for security reasons, which he says the coronavirus is. Parents like Davis say that’s not good enough.
“When your business is entirely travel, you should have insurance coverage to cover losses if you are going to have to cancel all of your business for a year.”
While Davis and her boyfriend are still working she worries about those who need the money. “Most of the families in the city are hurting right now. A lot of them are not working normal hours, not working at all. “
Wimsatt says schools were offered the option to postpone at no additional cost and it was the school’s decisions to cancel. Of this year’s reservations, 21 schools chose to postpone and 42 canceled.
Only one went as scheduled before the pandemic. Davis said he wishes the school district would have postponed.
“Now, If she ever gets to go on this trip again I don’t know if they are going to offer it to 9th graders next year but we will have to pay that money a second time which I think is just ridiculous.”
Prodigy Student Travel said they are empathetic to those who are out of work and they also worry about how they will pay their bills. They pointed out that two years ago they helped students at Dublin, Hilliard and Olentangy schools when another travel company collapsed prior to their trips to Washington D.C.
After this story aired Wimsatt told NBC4 they will now be offering an 87% discount for students at Davis.
“We are continually trying to get as much back from our vendors as possible. Now that we’ve concluded our work with Davis, we can now offer the 87% refund, or all but $98. In either case, we exceeded our refund amount, per our agreement with Davis AND with each parent who registered and signed their child up for the trip. All we are asking people to do is go by the set and agreed to refund policy.”