york durham heritage railway

Popular holiday trains in Ontario bombed with one-star reviews for not issuing refunds

A holiday railway in Ontario is being slammed with one-star reviews after postponing several of its highly-anticipated events while operating on a strict no-refund policy. 

York-Durham Heritage Railway (YDHR) offers a variety of holiday-themed and seasonal train rides, such as The Hopper Express and Easter Festival, Spring High Tea, and Christmas High Tea & Train Ride.

Back in December, the railway announced that due to unforeseen mechanical issues, all of its event train rides would be postponed, promising that it would rebook impacted guests for a future date. 

The railway also stated that because it is a nonprofit, registered charity with the government, it does not issue refunds as part of its terms and conditions. Instead, the railway will issue credits for future use. 

Although a few months have passed since the Christmas train ride postponement, many customers are alleging that they still have not been issued a credit for a future booking, criticizing the YDHR for its "lack" of customer service. 

"If I could give no stars I would. I purchased tickets for [the] Dec. 14 train for my birthday. Unfortunately the event was cancelled due to mechanical issues," reads one of many one-star reviews.

"I was informed that I would receive a credit originally but later was told via email that I could get a refund. This was in December 2022. Well, I have sent at least four emails since and have not received the courtesy of a reply." 

Another person wrote: "There is an established pattern of cancelling trips, stating their no-refund policy due to non-profit charitable status, then not issuing credits and ignoring customer requests, by blaming their staffing issues." 

"Zero stars if I could," wrote another person still. "It's been over two months and I still have not received a refund, a credit to future shows OR EVEN AN EMAIL RESPONSE BACK regarding the cancelled Santa Train ride. I've sent numerous emails. THIS IS FRAUD. You scammed me and thousands of other families. How dare you call yourselves a 'charity' organization."

"It has been nothing but endless waiting. For the past several months, they NEVER replied to emails or picked up calls, never! A month ago, we finally got an e-blast that customers impacted by the postponed trains will be rebooked with the Paw Patrol Easter themed trains, so we followed the instructions to provide all the information required, and then no words back nor any tickets or confirmation at all," ​​​​​​another one-star reviewer said. 

Several people claimed they were only successful in receiving a full refund once they contacted their credit card companies. 

YDHR has been regularly responding to negative Google reviews, writing, "before the end of December, we publicly announced that credits would be issued. As also publicly announced at that same time on our social media, all affected customers would be receiving a credit towards another event of their choosing. We have over 4,000 guests to rebook but only a small staff." 

A spokesperson from YDHR told blogTO that the charity had experienced a rough 2022 after facing a tornado, lockdowns, and mechanical issues. 

"We have worked diligently to come up with new systems and processes to handle large amounts of credits, that we have never had to address before," the spokesperson said. 

"Naturally and understandably many people are upset and disagree with our no refund policy although it is part of the terms and conditions that everyone must click to and agree before their purchase." 

"In January numerous customers attempted to contact the railway to redeem or use their credit. As has been the case for the last 10 years, the railway is closed during the month of January and this was indicated on our social media, customer service line, and email auto-response," the statement continued. 

"Every single person who has had cancellations has a credit on file to be used this coming year."

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