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Wisconsin Dells resort refuses to refund over pandemic

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WISCONSIN DELLS (WKOW) -- Customers say a Wisconsin Dells resort is refusing to refund money over cancellations due to the pandemic.

Nearly a dozen customers of Mt. Olympus theme park resort contacted 27 News, maintaining the business should return all money to people cancelling stays in connection with the public health emergency.

"This wasn't like I was cancelling vacation to cancel it," Angie Coder of St. Joseph, Missouri says. "This is a pandemic and no one ever thought we'd be going through a pandemic."

Coder says she booked a late May stay at Mt. Olympus as a celebration for her son's high school graduation. But she says cancellation was appropriate.

"With everyone locked down and this virus spreading, I just felt it was unsafe," Coder tells 27 News.

Brittney Murray of Bemidji, Minnesota tells 27 News she and her vacation group paid a total of more than $3,200 to Mt. Olympus for a planned July stay. But like Coder, she felt the uncertainty over the health implications made cancelling the reservations necessary. "I have kids," Murray tells 27 News.

One of the resort's big draws is its pools and water park. But they are closed in accordance with Governor Evers' Safer At Home order to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Murray tells 27 News her request for a refund was met with disturbing logic. "At first they told us, 'Well, the virus isn't waterborne," she says. "How they even talked to me on the phone was extremely disrespectful."

Emails provided by Murray show Mt. Olympus appeared to offer her a partial refund and the resort's retention of $1,000, available to apply to a future booking within the next five years. But Murray says her experience with the business reinforces her desire for a complete refund. "I don't think it's very fair," Murray says of the resort's offer.

Coder tells 27 News she was offered no refund whatsoever.

"I feel it's a family environment and something you'd like to take your kids and your family," Coder says of Mt. Olympus' promotions and advertising. "It's not coming across as a family environment."

27 News Friday contacted two representatives of Mt. Olympus for their comment on the firm's view of potentially modifying the terms of the non-refundable reservations. But no one from the resort has responded.

27 News also contacted Wisconsin Dells Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson Leah Hauck to determine if the hospitality group knew whether the stance on refunds by Mt. Olympus was consistent with policies of other area resorts.

"The Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau (WDVCB) is a third-party marketing organization and cannot speak directly regarding policies of the lodging industry, or any industry for that matter," Hauck says. "Every lodging property in Wisconsin Dells is individually owned and operated, and the WDVCB has no regulatory authority over any business. Our primary responsibility is to provide information and resources to visitors, and if there is cause for complaint by a visitor, we encourage them to reach out directly to the individual property in question."

"I left a bad review on their (Facebook) page," writes Minnesota resident Samantha Jo Falls about Mt. Olympus. "I...want this to go viral so maybe we can be refunded in full," she writes on the 27 News Facebook page.


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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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