Travel complaints tend to multiply as winter approaches and tropical holidays beckon.
Here are some problems I helped resolve with tour companies, airlines, travel agencies and loyalty point plans.
Air Canada Vacations: Roberto Di Fazio gave a $750 deposit last June for a family trip to the Dominican Republic in early January.
Later, he changed the dates to Dec. 24 to Dec. 31 to fit his daughter’s return to university at a cost of $150. He paid the balance ($4,045) last October.
On Nov. 12, ACV said the resort (Barcelo Puerto Plata) would not be operating when his family was booked to go. His family had only three options and one week to decide on what to do.
They could go to two nearby resorts at the same price, but they didn’t like either choice. They could choose a new destination and pay any difference. But when they asked for help, they heard nothing by the deadline.
They chose the third option, a full refund, and booked a similar trip to Puerto Plata with Air Transat at a lower price. But two weeks later, they had paid for two trips and still awaited a refund for the first.
“No customer service was extended, despite attempted contact on their Facebook page,” Di Fazio said.
Francoise Casciaro, ACV’s customer relations manager, expedited the refund, repaid the $150 change fee (which has been denied before) and offered a $150 credit for a future trip. The customer kept negotiating and ended up with a $225 credit to use in the next two years.
Air Canada: Lori Atkins received an Air Canada coupon after a flight delay on a trip from Las Vegas last June. Passengers were given a promotion code for a 10 per cent discount within one year.
She used the promotion code to book a trip last July and cancelled within 24 hours, receiving a full credit. But the promotion code did not work the next time she tried to use it.
“Air Canada refused to reissue my promotion code. It did not notify customers of the fact that if you cancel a flight, the discount is gone,” she said.
After I contacted the airline, she recouped her 10 per cent discount with a new deadline to use it (Dec. 4, 2016).
“We routinely provide new promotional codes on request,” said a customer relations representative. “We regret that our call centre may not have communicated this to you.”
Expedia: Mary-Nandye Dorelas booked a trip to South Africa last May. She would visit her husband for a month starting Dec. 11, bringing the daughter he had never seen.
When she started a part-time job as a teacher, she found she could take only two weeks off. The price difference for a two-week flight was $2,400 — compared to an original cost of $1,287 for her and her infant.
She cancelled in October and asked for help getting her money back in late November. She wanted to buy gifts and would not receive any pay over the holidays.
Refunds typically take up to eight weeks to process, Expedia said. Dorelas received her refund on Dec. 3, which was within the time frame she was promised.
Aeroplan: Dennis Hughes lost more than 200,000 points because there was no account activity in a one-year period. He complained about lack of notice, but was told that two emails had been sent to him.
Aimia (Aeroplan’s parent company) usually charges a fee to restore lost points. Hughes said he’d pay if the price was right, but he’d not been given the option.
When I spoke to media contact Christa Poole, Aeroplan offered to reinstate his points for a cost of $2,134.73. That is a cost of one cent per mile.
“I won’t pay this amount,” he said. “Very disappointing for a 30-year member, but they don’t seem to mind the negative PR.”
Aeroplan did tell him about a Canadian class action lawsuit, cleared to go ahead in March 2012. Anyone affected by the loss of points can join at no cost by filling out a form at the Merchant Law Group’s website.