Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told mega-corporations ‘they cannot sail away with consumers’ money’ during the coronavirus crisis, urging businesses to honor their promised refund policies for customers who had their trips and events cancelled due to COVID-19 closures, Your Content has learned.
“If the policy says a consumer gets a full refund if an event is cancelled, that consumer better get a full refund,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “These businesses cannot sail away with consumers’ money when the trip isn’t happening or a concert is cancelled with no reschedule date.”
AG Shapiro noted entertainment, travel, and event companies typically have a refund policy for consumers for unplanned and emergency circumstances, like COVID-19, that require an unexpected or emergency cancellation.
Attorney General Shapiro’s Reminder to Companies
Businesses cannot legally retain a penalty if an event is cancelled because of COVID-19. In most cases, they may only retain a reasonable fee for their time and expenses, not the full cost of an event. For example, if a wedding reception is cancelled because of COVID-19, the venue cannot retain the entire cost of the venue rental as a penalty for the cancellation—however, they may keep a fee for the cost of holding the venue date and planning logistics of the event, if the contract allows.
Businesses that don’t honor their written cancellation policies could be violating state consumer protection laws. The Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law allows for restitution to consumers and penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation and $3,000 for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or older. If this same wedding venue alters their cancellation policy after a couple has cancelled their event, and the venue’s policy change retroactively affects them, they may be eligible for restitution under state law.
The Office of Attorney General also urges businesses to be flexible with their cancellation policies, asking businesses without an existing refund date-cutoff to offer customers full refunds for events and trips being rescheduled more than 60 days from the original cancellation.
Consumers who have not been refunded for canceled trips and events can dispute charges with their credit card companies, or file a complaint with the AG’s Bureau of Consumer Protection if they believe they have been harmed. Consumers who need airline refunds should file a complaint with the
U.S. Department of Transportation.
COVID-19 is caused by a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus, named SARS-CoV-2.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.
Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Most international destinations now have ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, as does the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed. Learn more about the spread of this coronavirus that is causing COVID-19.
For the latest and most accurate information pertaining to COVID-19, visit cdc.gov and follow guidance issued by local, state and federal authorities.
About COVID-19 via Center for Disease Control and Prevention
The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global health threat and CDC is committed to stopping the global spread. CDC has a long history of improving public health capacity throughout the world to contain outbreaks at their source and minimize their impact.
CDC’s technical support to ministries of health and other local and international partners is delivered in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, other U.S. government agencies, and other stakeholders including multilateral organizations.
CDC works globally to limit human-to-human transmission of COVID-19, minimize the impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries with limited preparedness capacity, and reduce threats that pose current and future risk to the United States. Globally, CDC works to:
- Strengthen capacity to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to local COVID-19
- Mitigate COVID-19 transmission in the community, across borders, and in healthcare facilities
- Support governments, nongovernmental organizations, and healthcare facilities to rapidly identify, triage, and diagnose potential cases to improve patient care and minimize disruptions to essential health services
- Address crucial unknowns regarding clinical severity, extent of transmission and infection with support for special investigations and other forms of cooperation between CDC and country partners
- Ensure readiness to implement vaccines and therapeutics when available
Since 2015, CDC has been a key implementing partner of the USG Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). GHSA investments have helped countries build national capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. These investments and partnerships have laid foundations to rapidly and effectively prepare for emerging threats, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Lessons learned from addressing HIV, influenza, Ebola, dengue, Zika, and many other viruses are being applied to the COVID-19 response.
Outbreaks can be stressful
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations
How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Take care of yourself and your community
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Ways to cope with stress
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Know the facts to help reduce stress
Sharing the facts about COVID-19. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
When you share accurate information about COVID-19, you can help make people feel less stressed and make a connection with them.
Take care of your mental health
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Preparednessexternal icon page.
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