This winter my husband and I decided to take a long awaited sailing sabbatical in the Caribbean. To bolster my confidence in my sailing abilities, I decided to take a 5 day sailing course with Womanship. Although there was no financial benefit for inviting guests, I asked a friend to join me on a course that was scheduled in Tortola BVI. My husband and I arranged our sailing itinerary to arrive in Tortola several days before the course was to begin.
I had paid for the course in full, fulfilled all their requirements, and received written confirmation from Womanship. They had only to send me the time and location for the start of the course.
Three days before the course was to begin, we had heard nothing, so we emailed Womanship. On Friday morning, in the last business day before the course, we received an email that Womanship had decided to cancel the course.
We were informed that they would not refund our money but we were free to schedule another course with them up to 18 months hence. The next scheduled course was in a month’s time. This was not satisfactory. We did not intend to wait in Tortola for a month nor did we feel it reasonable that we should have to sail back there or pay for air transportation for a future course when we had already traveled to attend this one. No other options were presented to us whatsoever. They were not in the least concerned or helpful. They quickly made themselves impossible to reach.
Womanship categorically refused to refund any of our money. In fact, at exactly that point we discovered that they had CHARGED MY CREDIT CARD A SECOND TIME OBVIOUSLY WITHOUT ANY AUTHORIZATION.
So far Womanship has given 4 different stories:
- the course was running but my friend would be denied boarding if she arrived
- the boat was pulled from the water for maintenance
- the boat would be used for another course
- the course was cancelled only because they did not feel it in the student’s best interest to take the course alone.
Whichever is the truth, IF one of these excuses IS the truth, each of these reasons was well within the control of Womanship, so their 18 month replacement clause “cancellation for reasons out of our control” was certainly not applicable.
They had 4 different methods to reach us prior to the course but did not even try.
Attempts to resolve
Since this incident we have sent the owner of Womanship, Suzanne Pogel, several emails requesting that she contact us so that we can discuss and resolve this situation. On more than one occasion, her staff has assured us that she would be contacting us. To date we have received nothing… not a phone call, an email or a letter. She did however report us to the FBI accusing us of “extortion” for trying to contact her and get our money refunded. The FBI agent who contacted us was most pleasant and helpful. Suffice it to say that once he understood the situation, he dropped the case.
The entire experience was most distasteful. We were relatively fortunate however. Despite vehement arguments from Womanship, the credit card companies refunded 100% of our money. We feel very badly for others, including several on this forum, who were not as fortunate.
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