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B.C. woman won't get refund for boyfriend's paragliding gift

Stephanie Gaston said she bought the flight as a Christmas gift for her boyfriend but he wasn't ready to follow through.
Paragliding at Richmond's Garry Point Park.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal says a woman who bought a paragliding experience for her boyfriend won’t be getting a refund despite her claims she tried to book the flight several times.

Stephanie Gaston told tribunal vice-chair Kate Campbell she bought the flight from Pemberton-based Sea to Sky Paragliding Inc. (SSP).

According to Campbell’s June 18 decision, Gaston said she tried to book the flight several times, but SSP did not respond or confirm a booking. Further, Gaston claimed, SSP refused to provide a refund. So, Gaston sought a tribunal order that SSP refund the $288.50 she paid.

For its part, SSP said Gaston bought a gift certificate for a tandem flight with an instructor.

“SSP says Ms. Gaston did not follow the booking instructions, which are stated on the gift certificate and on SSP’s website, and which SSP emailed to her,” Campbell said.

“SSP says that under its refund policy, Ms. Gaston is not entitled to a refund,” the ruling said.

The evidence showed Gaston purchased the gift certificate for her boyfriend in December 2021. Then, Campbell said, there was an exchange of emails.

On Jan. 15, 2022, Gaston asked about booking a spring flight to which SSP replied three days later saying Gaston should text SSP one week before their first available flying dates, and that the flying season usually starts around the May long weekend.

On Aug. 24, 2022, Gaston emailed saying she bought the flight as a Christmas gift for her boyfriend, but “unfortunately I don’t think he wants to follow through (yet)”.

On Sept. 11, SSP wrote that, as stated on its website, gift certificates are transferable for flights, gear, or training, but not refundable.

SSP said gift certificates do not expire and could be reactivated for $50 after two years.

“SSP wrote that hopefully Ms. Gaston’s boyfriend or someone else would want to fly the following season,” Campbell said.

Gaston then texted SSP on Sept. 29, 2022, again asking for a refund, said the ruling.

“SSP repeated that gift certificates are transferable and exchangeable, but not refundable, and she could use it the following season,” Campbell said.

Gaston said that before she requested the refund, she attempted to phone and text SSP several times to book the flight.

“However, she says she has no copies of messages from that long ago,” Campbell said.

Still, the tribunal member said, Gaston bore the burden of proving her claims in the dispute.

“Ms. Gaston has not provided any evidence, such as cellphone billing records, to prove that she tried to contact SSP before requesting a refund in her Aug. 24, 2022 email,” Campbell said. “I find Ms. Gaston has not proved her assertion that she tried to book the flight.”

However, Gaston also said she believed she was buying a booking, not a gift certificate.

“I find nothing turns on this distinction,” Campbell said. “This is because I find that Ms. Gaston did not book or try to book the flight. There is also no evidence before me that her boyfriend did so. SSP provided information showing that the amount paid had not expired and could be used for a flight or another product or service.

"Ms. Gaston has not proved that either gift certificates or paid flights are refundable for any reason.”

Campbell found Gaston was not entitled to refund and dismissed her claim.