Reporting Kurtis Ming
You may have seen them at your office — faxed vacation offers, promising great travel deals.
We call on Kurtis Ming to find out what you’re really getting.
We get these faxes at the station all the time. They offer incredible deals but what do you really get?
One couple wanted to return to Hawaii where they were married six years ago.
“We ran away to Hawaii together, toes in the sand,” says Jessica Crone, a Citrus Heights resident.
Jessica and her husband jumped when a fax showed up at her job, offering “8 days/7 nights at a luxury condo resort” for “$199.98″ per person and it also stated buy one plane ticket, get “companion airfare.”
“It was only going to cost $400. I thought ‘great, this is perfect,’” says Jessica.
She called the toll-free number and paid the $400 to the company.
A trip voucher showed up in the mail. But the voucher requires activation with another company, costing $70 more, which she paid.
And more fine print, they’d have to pay $38.57 per night in room taxes. This $400 trip was now looking more like $740 plus airfare.
“By then, I was in it so deep,” says Jessica.
And when she went to book the dates, Hawaii wasn’t even available when they wanted to travel.
“I feel like these people took advantage of a nice couple that was just trying to go back to where they got married,” says Jessica.
That’s there intention, according to the Better Busines Bureau.
“These are marketing companies behind this,” says Gary Almond with the Better Business Bureau.
Almond says these faxes are deceptive and don’t count on getting these low prices.
“Nothing’s for free. The very fact that somebody tells you you’re going to get a vacation for next to nothing or you’re going to get gas or groceries for next to nothing is absurd at its face value,” says Almond.
We reached out to all the companies involved and ended up getting a total of $70 refunded for this trip.
Jessica is wishing she never called after getting the fax.
“It’s very upsetting that there’s people out there doing this to others,” says Jessica.
Thinking she was still getting a deal, Jessica ended up using these same companies to book a trip to the Bahamas instead.
Get this, the company booked her airfare through Orbitz.
In order to sell travel in the state of California, you must be registered with the attorney general.
We found out only one out of these four companies is registered with the state.
Statements From Companies Involved
Companion Air Promotion Statement:
One of our product distributors advised us of the lengths Mrs. Crone was going to pursue for a refund of $635. We would like to first advise you of some information that would hopefully resolve this matter.
Our product provides a discount to customers for a BOGO offer. The flight she had purchased is $872.60 per person with Continental Airlines and she paid $ 1,465.98 oppose to $1,745.20. In our terms we clearly disclose that online rates do NOT apply. Customers are to pay the ‘B’ Class fare which is higher then an online rate but will be less then booking it online. Two tickets are purchase (explaining the disclosed price of the second ticket) along with a tax breakdown.
During our booking process, a flight itinerary/rate is sent to the customer for them to accept or decline. Mrs. Crone did accept the disclosed rate. We then require them to fill out and complete a Credit Card Authorization Form which has the customer contractually agree to the rate offered. She filled out and signed this form accepting all charges.
We would agree and take liability if the customer agreed to a price than we doubled it without her consent. In this case, she was clearly given all of the disclosed information, rate, itinerary, etc. before purchase. These measures are properly taken in preparations like this.
It would be typical to say a company is at fault and the customer is always right. However, as we hope you see, this is not the case. Please be advised that no monies have been paid to us what-so-ever. CAP has not received $1 for making this reservation and Jessica Crone can agree with that according to her Credit Card transactions. The product distributor (that has nothing to do with reservations and is completely separate) even refund her the $25 she paid to them.
Again, we do hope that CBS13 does not pursue with any allegations/story as we will notify our council in preparations of any Deformation of Character.
Response When Asked Why Jessica Was Charged For 2 Tickets:
We have no control of how the airline carrier breaks the per person pricing down. Some carriers divide the pricing between both travelers or do not. Nevertheless, Mrs. Crone was given a proposed rate, agreed/signed contractually, and advised to proceed with her booking. Mrs. Crone was cognizant that the online rate was different then the BOGO offer provided, per a message she sent before submitting her credit card authorization form.
If there was a way to either cancel or refund her, we would. Our terms and conditions clearly state that reservations are non cancelable nor non refundable per the airline carriers policies.
Again, we do ask the CBS13 does not proceed further as there is no wrong-doing on our part.
Response When Asked About Its Buy One, Get One Free Offer:
Sorry for the delayed response as the previous message was not received.
To answer your question, $872.60 is the Internet rate not the B Class fare that is offered. That was simply used as a reference to show the savings received. The customer could have paid $1,745.20 by booking direct with the airline carrier or $1,465.98 by booking with her voucher. With that being said, the savings is shown. If the customer felt there was no savings, she should not have agreed to the purchase.
Vacation Getaways Statement:
Thank you for your information. Jessica Crone paid $25 to our company to redeem her vacation certificate to receive a reservation form to book her companion airfare. Since she was not satisfied, we have refunded her the $25 a few weeks ago. Furthermore, I have spoken to the travel agency Companion Air Promotion and they said she was not charged for two separate tickets. They said that the airlines list 2-3 different charges equaling the grand total, and that Jessica apparently did not understand that fact, and instead assumed that she was being charged for two separate tickets. In fact, Jessica did receive a savings compared to the online rate, and she did agree to the rate and itinerary. Companion Air Promotion said they would be contacting you to explain this.
Our company is an incentives company that works with businesses who give our certificates to their customers as promotions, incentives, etc. Jessica received one of our certificates from a company and then redeemed it. When the certificate is redeemed, we issue a reservation form for the customer to book reservations with the travel agency, which in this case was Companion Air Promotion.
Customer Service Vacation Getaways
Celebrity Productions Statement
We do apologize for the problems Ms Crone has experienced with Vacation Getaways. Vacation Getaways is one of the vendors we use to fulfill our packages.
We have since refunded Ms Crone her activation fee, and my understanding is that Vacation Getaways has refunded her as well. We do apologize for her inconvenience.
We refunded her for her Hawaii package of $70. That included the companion air that she is having the problem with.
If she wants a refund for the Las Vegas she simply has to return the reservation form we sent her so that we can be assured she is not using it. She must also include a copy of her cancelled check.
NOTE: CBS13 also contacted ASAP Travel N Tours by phone and email but did not get a response.