On Your Side: Trips canceled; Customers demand refunds from closed Springfield travel business

Published: Apr. 4, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A well-known travel business in the Ozarks suddenly closed. Trips are canceled. Customers who paid deposits are asking On Your Side what now?

Sunnyland Travel Center was in business for 85 years.

On its website there’s an important notice that reads: Sunnyland is suspending operation and not taking bookings at this time. We anticipate a permanent closure, but a potential sale is pending.

Customers say they want their money back.

“I was disappointed,” said Suzanne Walker. Walker made a $100 deposit for a $259 round trip. Next month, she was scheduled to go to St. Louis Cardinals game.

“I won’t cry over it or go broke over it, but it was money I paid out, and I feel like it is owed to me,” she said.

In October of 2021, Frederick Harris, owner of Sunnyland Travel Center, told KY3 News the pandemic froze his business, but things were getting better.

“There is pent-up demand. People are traveling. People are learning how to deal with it and go forward. The desire for travel will always be within us, people are looking for that outlet,” he said.

On Monday, customers got an email that reads --- Nothing could have prepared us for the financial devastation brought about by COVID-19 and the smothering regulations that followed.

Harris declined our request for an on-camera interview about the closure, but said in an email:

The decision was made with sleepless nights, tears and constant worry for the clients that have traveled with us over the years and trusted us with their deposits. The bank is in control of my account and the lawyer will strive to the best of his ability to retrieve what we feel the customers deserve. Communication will be outgoing to each and every customer regarding this matter. We are not locking the door without a plan...

When asked about the plan, he said right now there isn’t a number for customers to call about the money they’ve already paid.

Harris tells On Your Side they offered travel insurance, but right now it’s unclear if that will help customers get some money back.

At this point, the company has not filed for bankruptcy. In that email to customers, it says they hope to return as many deposits as possible.

Customers can always file complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Attorney General.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com