Refunds coming after inauguration debacle

Seven On Your Side
March 11, 2009 3:06:53 PM PDT
It was supposed to be the highlight of a five day youth conference - a once in a lifetime chance to witness Barack Obama's inauguration first hand. But in a mass of crowds and confusion more than a thousand kids missed the swearing in. "I was extremely disappointed, everyone was disappointed," 13 year old Connor Leavens told Seven ON Your Side's Tappy Phillips.

He pint sized student is talking about a five day youth conference he attended last January. His parents paid nearly three grand for the trip, which included speeches by Al Gore and Colin Powell. But the centerpiece of the conference? "The entire thing was focusing on the inauguration and we didn't even go."

Connor was among a group of 1,500 kids, some from our area, who missed the Obama swearing in completely.

And instead of viewing the parade as promised, Connor says he was herded onto a tour bus.

"It took about an hour and a half drive to the Marriott to watch the parade," recounted Connor. "(I watched) on 3 TVs with no volume."

"It just seemed like a series of disappointments, you know. Just poor organization from the group," said Connor's dad, Tom.

The company who ran the trip, Congressional Youth Leadership Council apologized for the myriad problems and set aside a $1 million to satisfy refund claims for families affected.

As for the Leavens, after we called on their behalf, trip organizers offered a refund close to their original purchase price. The Leavens haven't accepted yet. Dad's lesson? "You know, I don't think we would be sending our son to another event."

The trip organizers says "logistical challenges" due to record inauguration crowds caused the problems on the trip. Parents will be offered up to $1200 plus tuition vouchers for future conferences. Parents have until the end of this month to file a claim for a refund.


Produced by: Steve Livingstone

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