The vacation industry has long known that allowing consumers to pay for big-ticket items with a credit card is likely to increase sales – on everything from airfare to hotels, tour guide services and more. So what happens if your business has to set deadlines for refund requests? This is the situation for many cruise lines, which, because of planning and myriad tax, fee and customs issues, have adopted a deadline-driven cancellation policy on booked cruises.
Consumers are fickle, and as any retailer can relate, many may change their minds after getting their purchases home and return them for a refund. Cruise lines, like the airline industry, have adapted to these circumstances by instituting a set of payment deadlines and refunds. Many offer full refunds when cancellations are made three months in advance or longer and partial refunds when cancelled 30 to 60 days in advance, with no refunds within two weeks of the sail date.
This may be considered a risky policy by some domestic and offshore banks who offer merchant services such as credit card processing. In turn, cruise line companies may find it more difficult and even more expensive to offer payment processing services to its customers, as many payment processors will approve cruise lines depending on how they view the risks.
Like any consumer, cruise lines should shop the merchant service provider that offers the best fit for them. When shopping for payment processing solutions, here are some best practices to keep in mind.
It’s always a good idea to fully examine your options in anything that affects your business, including your customers. Don’t forget some of these research basics: Use the Internet to compare merchant services providers; ask other businesses for references; and check with the Better Business Bureau.