Coronavirus News: New Jersey students, parents upset motel won't refund canceled prom stays

LACEY TOWNSHIP, NJ (WABC) -- New Jersey high school students and their families are upset with a motel on the shore that is refusing to refund their money for stays booked for their prom weekends which they've had to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lacey Township High School senior Jackson Brandt is out the $150 dollars he shelled out in January for two nights in June at the Twilight Motel in Wildwood.

"I worked two jobs and worked really hard for that money," Brandt said. "I was looking forward to one last weekend with my classmates and friends."

In all, 68 students paid a total of $10,200 to book rooms at the motel.

They all paid separately in cash, but they were given receipts.

"No contract, nothing stating it wasn't refundable," Bob Lawrence said. "I don't take money from people without providing a type of service for my business and i would expect her to do the same."

Lawrence sent a demand letter to the motel owner after his daughter Brooke and her friends after the motel owner told them she doesn't have the money to give any money back.

"I have a new deck, I had to re-coat the pool," Twilight Motel owner Kathleen Mangini said. "Nobody could have ever anticipated this happening."

Mangini said she doesn't qualify for any stimulus money and her businesses interruption insurance was denied because of a pandemic exclusion.

She said she has been welcoming prom groups for 20 years and that the rule of thumb is that there are no refunds.

Another group of students from Toms River North High School paid a total of $14,550 in cash, however they did have a contract clearly stating that the motel does not offer refunds.

"I think its ridiculous she just is not willing to give these kids their money back," Shari Degregorio said.

Degregorio, whose son attends Toms River North, said the group was offered an alternate date to come later this summer.

"How is she going to accommodate 97 students with social distancing?" Degregorio said.

"For the parents I can only say to the ones who aren't coming, I apologize. I'm really sorry," Mangini said. "I'm sorry that this had to happen to everybody. And I really feel that we need to push to get the state open."

Wildwood hotels are allowed to be at 60% capacity starting on May 26 and 100% occupancy starting June 22.

Each shore town has their own set of rules, so if you've already booked a rental or a room it's a good idea to first check the town's website and then check your refund policy on your contract or agreement.

If you need to re-book, it's a good idea to call the owner and get all of those terms in writing.

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