Ghada Yassine's 16-year-old daughter worked long hours over her winter break and fundraised to cover part of the cost of a school trip to Europe in the spring.
But when COVID-19 began to spread around the globe, the Maple Ridge Secondary School trip was cancelled.
Now, seven months later, Yassine and her daughter, Tara, are still working to get a refund for the trip, which cost more than $4,000.
They are one of hundreds of families from more than 125 schools across the country that are also looking for refunds, according to Travis Payne, a St. John's lawyer who is planning a class-action lawsuit against Explorica Canada Inc. and its insurers Arch Insurance Canada Ltd. and Old Republic Insurance Company of Canada.
Tara and other students in Grade 11 and Grade 12 at Maple Ridge Secondary were scheduled to leave for a two-week tour of France and Italy on March 14, but the trip was cancelled 10 days before the departing flight, Yassine said.
Yassine says she has made repeated attempts to get money back from tour operator Explorica Canada and Arch Insurance, which sold students the cancellation insurance they were required to purchase.
"When the cancellation happened because of COVID, the parents were promised most of their money back minus the $250 insurance fee, so we were kind of relieved we were going to get our money back and same with the students, because some of them fundraised, some of them worked extra hours to pay for their trip," said Yassine.
She said families paid around $4,200, including an insurance fee, for the two-week trip.
Long wait for trip refunds
In the seven months they've been waiting for a refund, Yassine discovered she was one of hundreds of other people waiting for their money back.
In August, a Facebook page was created to connect frustrated families. As of Friday night, the group — called Explorica Canada, Trying to get our Refunds — had 999 members.
Yassine said the two companies — Explorica and Arch Insurance — have been sending emails to families that seem to blame each other for the lack of refunds.
"Explorica is saying 'We provided all the information to the insurance company, they should be paying you.' The insurance company is saying that Explorica is not providing us with all the details to be able to pay the families."
Explorica declined an interview request with CBC News through its public relations agency and Arch Insurance did not respond to interview requests.
Yassine said the companies are telling parents that they are working on the issue, but so far there's been no progress.
Yassine says she is considering joining the class-action lawsuit.