bby O’Brien (19), from Stamullen, Co Meath, had sought work through Maynooth-based USA Summer Camp, which connected her to a US company.
However, the coronavirus pandemic meant her job ended up being cancelled.
“I had hoped to work at a girl scout camp in Conroe, Texas,” said Ms O’Brien, who is going to Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, England, to do a degree in paramedic science in September.
“But the flights were never booked and I didn’t even get to apply for a visa, but USA Summer Camp says it won’t refund me.
“It’s offering to postpone the placement until another time, but my university commitments mean I can’t postpone and I want a refund instead.”
Kier Bates, one of the UK-based directors of USA Summer Camp, said “no one is at fault” when camps are being cancelled, flights are unable to leave, the US embassy cannot issue visas and the participants cannot go to America.
“It’s a sad time for everyone,” he said.
“We are asking participants to adapt as we have had to – go to camp another summer.
“Nobody has lost any money, but they just have to go another year.”
Ms O’Brien disputes the claim that “nobody has lost any money”.
“I can’t go another year, so clearly I’ve lost money,” she said.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has said that if an issue is not resolved, a person can take legal action through the Small Claims procedures.
Union of Students in Ireland president Lorna Fitzpatrick said the matter is “obviously very disappointing for students and they deserve to salvage money they have spent so far”.