By Kurtis Ming

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Three Elk Grove seniors are out nearly $35,000 dollars for a cruise they never took. The way they paid is a big reason why they’re struggling to get their money back.

“What is want is a refund,” said Penny Powell.

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The trip of a lifetime for Dennis and Penny Powell and their friend, Martha Tosha, never happened.

“We canceled the trip because of cancer,” Powell said

Dennis needed surgery, keeping the trio from going on a 15-day cruise through Europe. But they had trip insurance and Vantage Deluxe Travel approved their refund of $31,551 back in August 2020.

More than a year later, no money.

“If it was small amount I’d go, OK – but it’s a lot of money,” Penny said.

Sandi Carli told us in January she’s been waiting more than a year for a $53,000 refund after Vantage cancelled the Croatian cruise she booked with her friends.

Dick and Carolyn George are waiting for $15,000 after their canceled trip.

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“It was very frustrating for sure,” Dick George said.

Many couldn’t challenge the charges with their credit cards because they paid in cash to get a 10% discount.

“This is the first time I did that and this is the consequence.” Sandi Carli said.

Vantage told us it is processing thousands of requests after postponing all trips in 2020 and most in 2021.

After we got involved, Sandi’s group got their money back.

In Penny Powell’s case, Vantage told us “the accounting process is taking much longer than we would like” and said the refunds would arrive “in four to six weeks.”

“If anybody asked me if they were going to go on a trip with Vantage, I’d tell them not to.” Penny said.

Kurtis advises to be leery of any company pushing you to pay in cash for this very reason.

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Vantage’s full statement on Dennis and Penny’s situation is below:

“As I’m sure you know, the coronavirus world event has caused severe disruptions throughout the travel industry, and our company is no exception to this. Our team is devoted to delivering exceptional customer service. However, we have had to postpone all 2020 & most of 2021 departures due to government restrictions. As a result, we are processing thousands of requests, which have caused delays across multiple teams. This is the earliest in which we can guarantee a refund for Mr. & Mrs. Powell as well as Ms. Tosta. We are incredibly appreciative of their patience during this time.”