No visa, no honeymoon! Who is to blame?

When Lauren Weichmann took off on her five-day honeymoon to Mexico, she never imagined that she would be returning home later that same day. But her husband possessed no visa to enter Mexico and was denied entry at the customs window. Now Weichmann wants to know: Who is to blame for her honeymoon fiasco, and how can she get reimbursed? Read more “No visa, no honeymoon! Who is to blame?”

A lengthy flight delay does not equal a free vacation

We’ve all heard the expression “All’s well that ends well.” But is the opposite true?

Apparently it is for Megan Kroc. Her Apple vacation ended badly. And she wants her money back for the entire vacation. Read more “A lengthy flight delay does not equal a free vacation”

What should we do about this $20,000 claim against Apple Vacations?

The circumstances of Michelle Melcher’s claim are common, but the sum of her claim isn’t. She — or, more precisely, her client — wants $20,000 after returning from an Apple Vacation. Read more “What should we do about this $20,000 claim against Apple Vacations?”

“It is so unjust to poison someone and get off scot-free”

Lynn Friedman’s daughter, Emma, became violently ill during her family vacation to Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun. When she returned to the States, she was hospitalized for five days. The diagnosis: acute food poisoning.

“Based on the timing and the test results, the doctors are convinced that she was poisoned at the resort,” says Friedman.

She wants a refund for her vacation from either her travel agent, tour operator or the resort. But so far, her efforts have come up short.

“No one will claim responsibility,” she says.

Friedman wants me to help. But as I review the details of her case, I’m not sure who to ask for relief — or even where to start. And that’s where you come in, dear readers. Please tell me what to do with this one.

The visit, which happened in April, was supposed to be a relaxing family vacation. But shortly after their arrival, Emma started to feel sick.

“We knew Emma was ill on the trip,” explains Friedman. “But we did not understand the cause.”

Emma had her own room, and wanted to give her family space to enjoy their much-needed vacation. Friedman says, in retrospect, her daughter was probably more ill than they suspected.

“She simply carried on and told us she didn’t feel like eating. Only on the plane home was it clear that she was very ill. I took her to the doctor our first day back home,” she says.

The doctors back in the States said she had Salmonella. That’s no tummy ache — more than 400 people die of Salmonella every year.

Friedman says she’s certain the resort is to blame, because the family only ate at the hotel.

She adds,

For the last six weeks, I have devoted hours of my time and much emotional energy emailing and faxing two managers at Secrets Maroma, a supervisor at Apple Vacations, and two individuals (the travel agent and the owner of the company) at Travel House of Barrington.

I have sent medical records (including the test results and diagnosis, dates of hospitalization, etc.) and impassioned letters.

My daughter has been suffering terribly, we have spent a huge amount of time and a great deal of money because of someone else’s inappropriate behavior, and we cannot seem to receive the compensation we believe we deserve.

It is so unjust to poison someone and get off scot-free.

Friedman’s demand is simple: She wants her $5,753 back, which represents the entire amount she spent on her all-inclusive vacation package.

She believes the hotel is trying to throw her case out on a technicality.

In my distress, I accidentally told the hotel that Emma was poisoned at our first meal at the resort; I later corrected that error and told them that she was poisoned at the hotel on our first full day there. They used that understandable error as the excuse to throw out our LEGITIMATE case.

So far, her travel agency has asked her to fill out a medical claim form, but Friedman says she already has medical insurance. She just wants her money back.

I get a fair number of tainted food cases, and the problem is conclusively proving the poisoning happened at a restaurant, hotel or on a cruise ship. In defense of the hotel, the incubation period for Salmonella is 24 to 48 hours, so Emma might have been infected from another source.

I’m not sure if Friedman’s travel agent or tour operator are responsible for this vacation gone wrong in any way, other than that they might have recommended the hotel and helped her make the reservation.

Also, refunding the entire vacation seems like a tall order. After all, the family flew to their destination, enjoyed the accommodations and at least some of the food at the resort.

Should Maroma Beach refund everything, or just part of the vacation? What responsibility, if any, should the agency and tour operator bear?

Is Friedman owed anything for the Salmonella episode, or should she just chalk this up to an expensive, and exceedingly painful, lesson learned about watching what you eat when you’re traveling abroad?

I don’t know. This is one of the more difficult cases to cross my desk in recent memory.

Should I mediate Lynn Friedman's case with Maroma Beach?

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Can this trip be saved? “It feels like we are being ripped off”

Heather Lockridge and her husband thought they would be checking into the honeymoon suite at the Ocean Maya Royal in Cancun, an all-inclusive beachfront resort described as the embodiment of “exotic serenity.” After all, it was their honeymoon.

Instead, they were greeted with some bad news when they arrived: The suites were all occupied and they’d be downgraded into a smaller ocean view room. And serenity? Forget it. Trying to recover the cost difference between the suite and their room was anything but easy.

“It feels like we are being ripped off,” she told me. (Please see an update from Apple Vacations at the end of this post.)
Read more “Can this trip be saved? “It feels like we are being ripped off””