Road trip update: Rome wasn’t meant to be seen in a day, but …

Since when has that stopped us from trying? We checked out all the major sites in the Eternal City yesterday, including the Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.

But we kinda cheated; we had FastPasses.
Read more “Road trip update: Rome wasn’t meant to be seen in a day, but …”

Can this trip be saved? The guest canceled — so who covers the refund?

Suzanne Cohen runs the Santa Barbara Adventure Company, a tour operator that offers kayaking trips in California’s rugged but breathtakingly beautiful Channel Islands National Park (no, that’s not hyperbole; check out our coverage from last year if you don’t believe me).

It’s a one-hour ferry ride to the island, and the fare is included in the price of the kayak tour. The ferry is nonrefundable within seven days of a trip, and so are her tours. But like everything else in life, there are exceptions to that policy.
Read more “Can this trip be saved? The guest canceled — so who covers the refund?”

Can this trip be saved? She didn’t make it to Marrakech after all

Here’s another reason to double-check with your tour operator before you take off.

Linda Taylor waited until she was on the way to the airport to send an email to the company running her Morocco tour. Good thing she did; there was no tour.

There’d been a bombing and the whole thing had been canceled.

“We cancelled right after the bombing as we always put our clients safety first,” the tour operator said in a message.
Read more “Can this trip be saved? She didn’t make it to Marrakech after all”

Case dismissed: No refund for my canceled Middle East vacation

Here’s another cautionary tale — as if we needed one — on the dangers of choosing an interesting destination for your next vacation.

How about Egypt? It’s got pyramids, museums – and a riot or two.

Catherine Green certainly got more than she bargained for when she booked a March 26 tour to the Middle East through On The Go. With all of the warnings being issued by the State Department, she was certain the tour operator would cancel the Egypt trip and offer her a full refund.

It didn’t.
Read more “Case dismissed: No refund for my canceled Middle East vacation”

Is this enough compensation? They canceled my Egypt tour, but all I get is a credit?

When an airline cancels a flight, you’re entitled to a refund. When a hotel turns you away, you get your money back. Same thing when your cruise is canceled or your car rental company doesn’t have the vehicle for which you prepaid.

But put it all together into a tour package, and curiously, the rules change. Just ask AnnMarie LaRosa-Gee, whose March 5 Egypt tour and Nile cruise was called off, for obvious reasons. Egypt is descending into anarchy, and is unsafe for any kind of tourism.

LaRosa-Gee booked the tour directly, paying YMT $6,032. When the tour operator canceled, it offered her two choices: Either rebook the same tour later in the year or transfer all of her credit to a new 2011 tour.

“I could understand this if we had decided to cancel, but since YMT did, it seems like a reasonable expectation to receive a full refund,” she says.

Is this enough compensation? (If you can’t wait to answer, scroll down to take today’s poll.)
Read more “Is this enough compensation? They canceled my Egypt tour, but all I get is a credit?”

Where’s my deposit?

Question: I’m writing in the hope that you can help us secure the return of our deposits from a tour operator.

My mother and I booked a wine tour in Spain through a company called The Unique Traveller that we found online. We each made a deposit of $881, which amounted to 30 percent of the cost of the trip. We weren’t presented with any terms and conditions, nor were the terms available on the tour operator’s Web site.

We asked to see a copy of the company’s terms, which stated that if we canceled fewer than 45 days before the tour, we would forfeit our deposits. I spoke with the owner of the company, and he agreed to modify the terms, allowing us to get a full refund of our deposits if we canceled after 45 days.

Several months later, I was laid off from the law firm I worked at. Then my mother lost her job. We can no longer afford the trip. But The Unique Traveller — despite agreeing to a refund — has refused to send us our money back. Can you help us? — Debra Hitti, San Francisco

Answer: If The Unique Traveller agreed to revise its terms, then you’re entitled to a full refund of your deposit.

I’m just not sure if it made that promise. I reviewed the correspondence between you, your mother, and Ramon Ramirez, the tour operator, and found that although he implied you would get your money back, his language was sufficiently vague to avoid a refund. How clever.
Read more “Where’s my deposit?”

No refund for the wrong Chichen Itza tour

itzaQuestion: I’m trying to get a refund for a tour, and I’m getting the runaround. Last year, my husband, my niece, and I traveled to Cancun for two weeks. Before our departure, I asked my travel agent for a reputable tour company since I wanted to book a tour to Chichen Itza, a popular pre-Columbian archaeological site. She recommended Grayline.

I went online and I booked an overnight tour that included a light show and a room at the Mayaland Hotel, as well as access to the grounds in the evening. This cost me $99 per person.

When we got to Cancun, I got the concierge at my hotel to confirm the arrangements. She phoned and I thought it was all set.

When we arrived, we were told that we were booked on the day trip. This did not include the light show. When I explained that I had paid for the overnight trip, the woman at the counter told me there were no hotel rooms available at all. There was nothing she could do. She also told me that she couldn’t issue a refund since I had booked on the Internet. She told me to get my refund through the Web site.

I have contacted Grayline Cancun several times in the past year. Each and every time, I am promised a refund. Each time, they fail to deliver it. Can you help? — Nancy Giese, Swan Hills, Alberta, Canada

Answer: Grayline should have refunded the difference between the day tour and your overnight tour as quickly as it took the company to withdraw the money from your credit card. Which is to say, instantly.

So why are you still waiting?
Read more “No refund for the wrong Chichen Itza tour”