On a day that saw more news of soaring oil prices, the two major cruise lines voluntarily settled with passengers and agreed to refund $21 million in fuel surcharges, the Florida Attorney General’s office said yesterday.
The agreement came after a probe by the AG’s Economic Crimes Division, which began investigating the pricing disclosure policies of cruise lines after hundreds of customers filed official complaints that they were charged fuel surcharges retroactively after they had made their bookings and, in some cases, their initial deposit, according to a report in the Orlando Business Journal.
The AG said the surcharges were not properly disclosed. Authorities also looked into whether those charges violated a 1997 agreement among major cruise lines where they vowed not to add additional fees beyond advertised cruise fares in an effort to make prices easier for consumers to compare, the Journal said.
“This resolution will serve as a model for the rest of the cruise line industry, and I expect the other companies to take this example and follow suit,” Florida AG Bill McCollum said in a news release.
Any guest who booked on these two cruise lines before Nov. 16 will get the refund. Those consumers who have already sailed will get the refund for the full amount of the fuel surcharge in the form of a payment. Those who have not yet sailed will get the refund in the form of an onboard credit voucher, the Journal said.
The two cruise companies are said to be contacting eligible customers directly, and must report back to the AG in a month.