Faculties desire refunds from Central Florida journey business after COVID-19 excursion cancellations

Winter season Backyard garden, Fla. – A travel enterprise that assists faculty teams with arranging musical performances at Central Florida’s theme parks is accused of failing to refund students’ payments soon after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of their visits, News 6 has discovered.

Musical Places Inc., based in Winter Garden, arranges transportation, resorts, eating, concept park tickets and functions for youth teams accomplishing at Common Orlando and Walt Disney Globe, according to the company’s internet site.

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When the concept parks temporarily closed in March 2020 to mitigate the distribute of the virus, quite a few school bands uncovered their scheduled outings to Central Florida would be canceled.

Eleven months afterwards, hundreds of people throughout the southeastern U.S. are continue to waiting for Musical Locations to situation refunds.

As the vacation company faces a potential litigation, a local theme park operator announced it will no extended do organization with Musical Destinations.

“I’ve acquired a full town of mad dad and mom. They are hurting,” reported John Rea, an legal professional who signifies an Alabama faculty district in a planned lawsuit versus Musical Destinations. “I’m hoping my greatest to recoup the money.”

Musical Locations owes Springville Substantial Faculty in St. Clair County more than $105,000 after the band’s scheduled excursion to Walt Disney Entire world in March was known as off because of to the virus, according to Rea.

“(Musical Places) promised a refund inside a number of weeks,” Rea mentioned. “But the line of interaction basically stopped.”

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Approximately 100 college students and 70 chaperones had been preparing to make the vacation from the Alabama large university when the pandemic brought Central Florida’s tourism marketplace to a halt.

Hundreds of hospitality workers dropped their work opportunities and a lot of tourism-similar organizations endured as journey to Central Florida plummeted pursuing the virus outbreak.

“My individuals are realistic. We notice terrible factors have transpired to a lot of people,” Rea reported. “We just will need communication.”

Musical Locations has been operated by Joseph “Jody” Cooper because 1995, state data present.

Cooper at first agreed to speak with Information 6 but then failed to respond to his telephone at the time of the scheduled appointment.

Just after Cooper did not answer to many e-mail, voicemails and textual content messages, a News 6 reporter visited an deal with for Musical Places stated on condition information.

Cooper walked within the dwelling without commenting about his organization.

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“Parents are pissed off like I am,” mentioned Jeremy McFall, the band director at Dora Substantial University in Dora, Alabama. “For a ton of our students, they just really don’t have the monetary ability to do a full good deal of touring.”

Although Musical Destinations returned a $21,000 verify it experienced not nonetheless deposited, McFall claimed the business continue to owes his school $22,000.

“I was promised a refund arrangement variety to get the course of action begun, and I hardly ever gained that,” claimed the band director.

Dependent on email messages he gained from Cooper, McFall thinks Musical Destinations efficiently recouped nearly all the school’s income that the company experienced paid out to 3rd-celebration suppliers like resorts and dining places.

“I bought some Universal refunds now on my credit rating playing cards,” Cooper reportedly wrote in a Might 6, 2020 e mail information that McFall supplied to News 6.

But Universal Orlando did not gather any dollars from the vacation corporation on behalf of McFall’s pupils prior to the band trip’s cancellation, according to a vacation resort representative.

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“Our coverage and exercise has been to immediately refund any scholar team with an event impacted by the pandemic,” a Universal Orlando spokesperson said. “That stated, we never been given payment from Musical Destinations on behalf of (Dora Higher School) and we are no more time performing business with this organization.”

“Oh my God. Wow,” McFall stated in reaction to the concept park operator’s statement. “Where did the dollars go? I mean, straight up, which is the only issue I have.”

Common Orlando announced on March 12, 2020 that it would briefly shut its theme parks setting up March 16, 2020, 3 times prior to Dora Significant School’s scheduled trip to Central Florida.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency on March 13, 2020 because of to the coronavirus pandemic and closed public faculties for extra than two months.

On that very same day, McFall explained his school’s band trip was formally canceled.

In accordance to Dora Higher School’s agreement with Musical Destinations, “if the group cancels” a few months prior to the excursion, all monies are refundable.

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The agreement states that no refunds would be issued if the overall team tour was canceled less than one thirty day period prior to the excursion.

The agreement does not specifically address cancellations prompted by the closure of topic parks or motels.

The faculty group’s package deal incorporated journey insurance plan for “post departure scholar safety,” according to the agreement, but it is not crystal clear whether or not the insurance policies plan coated excursion cancellation expenditures.

“My understanding, from Musical Destinations, is that we would be getting our revenue back for almost everything,” reported McFall, who claims the company by no means asserted that the payments were non-refundable adhering to the pandemic-similar cancellation.

At the very least two Alabama colleges productively obtained refunds from Musical Locations, Information 6 has discovered, such as just one where by Cooper’s brother performs as band director.

Homewood Large School’s marching band had been organizing to journey to the Event of Roses Parade in California in advance of the pandemic compelled the cancellation of the New Year’s Day event.

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Musical Places issued a partial refund to the school since some of the deposits ended up non-refundable.

“Homewood High College went by means of the correct procedure of requesting a refund from Musical Locations,” a college district spokesperson mentioned. “Homewood High’s arrangement to use Musical Locations for journey preparations for the Match of Roses parade was manufactured prior to the employ of (the school’s) present-day band director.”

Cooper’s brother did not answer to email messages featuring an prospect to remark.

In close by Shelby County, Musical Destinations issued a refund to a person school but families at two other schools, Chelsea Higher and Chelsea Middle, are nevertheless ready to get funds back.

“It’s serious irritation,” reported Barry Lovette, a mum or dad whose two daughters ended up organizing to dance together with the Chelsea Substantial University marching band at Universal Orlando when his spouse served as a chaperone.

Lovette explained to News 6 his family members paid about $2,500 for the journey, which had been scheduled for the 7 days of April 1, 2020.

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Lovette explained he and other parents have continuously tried to contact Musical Locations with out achievement.

“I’m seeking to enlist support to get this dollars, not just for our relatives, but for all the households,” Lovette explained. “And not just for our Chelsea Large College, but for all the faculties impacted by this situation.”

Common Orlando hardly ever received payment from Musical Locations on behalf of Chelsea High University, according to a Common spokesperson.

Information 6 asked for a copy of Chelsea Significant School’s contract with Musical Locations beneath Alabama’s general public data legislation, but directors with the Shelby County Board of Training refused to supply it.

“In an exertion to solve the problem, our attorneys would like us to maintain issues confidential among the University Board and Musical Places at this position in time,” reported John Gwin, the school board’s chief money Ooficer.

In a Dec. 16, 2020 letter dealt with to mothers and fathers, Gwin indicated that the faculty board experienced not been in get hold of with Musical Destinations due to the fact September 2020, despite leaving voicemails and e-mail with the corporation every day.

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The Shelby County Board of Schooling determined it was not possible to file a lawsuit against Musical Locations, in accordance to the letter.

“Parents are irate and it’s hurting the university,” stated Kattie Curiel, who paid $565 for her daughter to travel to Orlando with the Chelsea Middle Faculty band. “I do not know how the operator (of Musical Places) sleeps at night time.”

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