The Travel Troubleshooter: Help! I paid twice for my all-inclusive vacation

Question: We recently made arrangements to go to visit the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino through a company called Cheap Caribbean. The hotel has an all-inclusive option, which includes meals, beverages and activities, and quoted us the price of $5,701.

Imagine the absolute horror we encountered when we got to the Marriott and were told that our reservation with them was for the room only — no all-inclusive. Since we booked an all-inclusive we took only a small amount of cash, which would not have been enough for a week’s worth of meals and liquid refreshments.

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When we called Cheap Caribbean Customer Service from the Marriott check-in desk, they wanted another $3,000 to make it an all-inclusive. After many, many phone calls between Cheap Caribbean, Marriott and my daughter, Cheap Caribbean and the three of us agreed to split the additional cost just to get the matter resolved and behind us. We had already lost what equaled a whole day of our vacation and wanted to get on with enjoying the short time we had left.

We feel that we were ripped off by Cheap Caribbean. We were quoted a vacation deal and they should have honored it. We wrote to the president of Cheap Caribbean but never received an answer. Can you help us? — Esther Mikula, Tinley Park, Ill.

Answer: You shouldn’t have to pay twice for your all-inclusive vacation. Cheap Caribbean and Marriott should have honored your reservation without charging you more.

You don’t negotiate with your travel agent and then split the difference. Either your reservation says “all-inclusive” and you get the meals, drinks and activities — or not. So if you look at your paperwork, and you’ve bought the all-inclusive package, then there’s no two ways about it: You should get what you paid for.

One way to avoid an unpleasant surprise before you check into a resort is to call ahead to confirm your reservation. Don’t phone Cheap Caribbean; ask Marriott, instead. A representative could have told you about the problem long before you arrived, saving you the trouble of having to renegotiate your vacation package at check-in.

The best way of ensuring that you get what you paid for is to have everything in writing. That includes your reservation that says “all inclusive,” the confirmed rate and your room type. Don’t take an agent’s word that you have an all-inclusive vacation, no matter what. Get it on paper. It will make any negotiation with the hotel far easier.

I’m troubled that Cheap Caribbean didn’t respond to your written inquiry. But I wonder if sending a brief, polite email through the company’s website — as opposed to a letter sent directly to its president — would have been the better course of action. I always recommend going through channels before appealing your grievance to the president. Still, someone should have acknowledged your letter, and they didn’t.

You might have also checked with Marriott to find out why your all-inclusive rate wasn’t honored. I asked Marriott to take another look at your reservation. A representative contacted you and offered a full refund of the surcharge you had to pay.

Update: Cheap Caribbean contacted me after this story appeared to say it, too, had refunded the extra money Mikula and her party had to pay.

(Photo: Video Vik/Flickr Creative Commons)

47 thoughts on “The Travel Troubleshooter: Help! I paid twice for my all-inclusive vacation

    1. To be fair, there could have been a software interface problem where Cheap Caribbean entered the correct room type but wasn’t properly transferred in the Marriott’s reservation system. Or the person at the Marriott front desk could have read the reservation ratecodeetc. wrong? On the other hand, it could have been a honest data entry error when the person from Cheap Caribbean entered the reservationsent the reservation to Marriott. Or it could be an outright attempt to rip off the OP by Cheap Caribbean.

      Given the numerous complaints, negative reviews, etc. on the Internet about Cheap Caribbean, it is hard not to blame Cheap Caribbean for the problem.

      1. It does not matter what software problems there may have been between the two. When they called the travel agent directly, the travel agent didn’t say “oh yes, we see you paid for all inclusive, we’ll take care of that for you as it was a problem with transferring the booking”.

        Glad that the OP was offered the refund, but why did it have to take a posting on a travel blog to get it done?

        1. That’s because cheapcaribbean.com is not a bunch of travel agents. It is a website with order takers. A real travel agent would have handled it as you suggest.

        2. My response was to Eric who implied that that Marriott was in on the ‘scam’. Unlike other commenters on this site who always assume that the travel providers (in this case, the Marriott) are always wrong, etc., I like to have all of the facts before making a judgement. In my response to Eric, I listed the possible reasons (since all of the facts were not disclosed originally in the article) why the reservation was not correct when the OP arrived at the aiport.

          When Chris Elliott responded to one of my comments, it turn out that the Cheap Carribbean agent made the mistake.

          I can’t beleive the number of individuals that attacked Marriott in their comments. Again, kudos to Marriott since they ate the cost of their refund to the OP…hope that they did a chargeback to Cheap Caribbean.

  1. I am happy that they receieved a refund but I am a little confused.

    Did Marriott and Cheap Caribbean accept a reservation for an all-inclusive vacation and then try to rip this couple off or not? Did they cough up a refund only because the Travel Troubleshooter became involved?

    If this was just a mix-up then fine everything worked out
    but if they accepted money for an all-inclusive vacation and didn’t honor the reservation they should be avoided.

    1. I had the same thoughts. I always bring a copy of my confirmations with me when I check in. This should have been as simple case of her showing her reservation confirmation stating “all inclusive”.

      But when she called the agent, they should have immediately been able to say “yes, that’s what we purchased” and end of story. It sounds fishy that the travel agent had to negotiate prices.

  2. “We feel that we were ripped off by Cheap Caribbean.”
    – – – – – – – — – – –
    You were! If you do a Google search on Cheap Caribbean, the Google Suggests are: Cheap Caribbean scams and Cheap Caribbean compliants. There are several bad reviews, complaints, etc. about the company on the Internet. I can’t believe that people will do business with them with all of negative stuff about them on the Internet.

    1. To be fair, I just tried “Cheap Caribbean” and “CheapCaribbean” in Google. I did not get any complaints or mentions of scams in the several pages. If by Google Suggests, you mean the ads to the right, that’s not indicative of anything other than some site bought the Cheap Caribbean keywords as an option and they know “scam” will draw clicks for anyone searching for CheapCaribbean. If you type “CheapCaribbean scam”, you’ll get lots of results, but so will “Expedia scam”, “Delta Airlines scam”, “Obama scam”, “Disney scam”. Even “CheapCaribbean review” did not turn up many complaints.

      I’ve followed CC emails for years, but I’ve yet to use them. As many have found, the great deals tend to be fairly easy to match elsewhere, so I’ve just not had a reason to use them. So, I can’t say anything good for bad about them, but I do think it’s unfair that the company is getting trashed here as it is by people who have not actually used them.

      1. I when type Cheap Caribbean (not a cut and paste)…Google Suggest pops up ‘Cheap Caribbean scams’ and ‘Cheap Caribbean reviews’. I am using IE as my explorer. I wish that I could post a screen shot.

        1. I see what you mean now about Google Suggest. Again, I would NOT imply anything from that. I tried Obama and I got “obama vs. zombies”. Is that an indication that our President is secretly fighting a war with Zombies? Yes, this does indicate that many people type cheap caribbean scam or cheap caribbean reviews as queries. But, that could be just because they want to know. If enough people ask you if you are a carrot, should I suspect you are one?

          1. I agree with you that people should be fair before ‘trashing’ a company. However, I found several negative reviews, complaints, etc. about Cheap Caribbean within seconds of doing a Google search. The company could just have lousy customer service, etc. and is NOT engaging in activities to rip off their customers.

            I understand that you can’t please everyone but when a company has a lot of complaints on the Internet, this raises a red flag for me. When complaints are the same type of complaints, again this raises a red flag.

            The BBB rating for Cheap Caribbean is A+ but the BBB processed a total of 95 complaints about them in the last 36 months. Of the total 95 complaints closed in the last 36 months, 45 were closed in the last 12 months.

            On the other hand, the BBB rating for Squaremouth (a sponsor of this site that sells travel insurance as well as I am a customer of this company) is A+ but the BBB has not processed a complaint against them in the last 36 months.

            Even with the BBB rating of A+, I won’t do business with Cheap Caribbean given the level of complaints that I found even if the every one of these complaints was the fault of their customers not them. Why put yourself in a position where you might have to spend time and energy to deal with it…I would seek out a company with less complaints regardless if Cheap Caribbean was much cheaper.

    2. @ARW. Doing research online might be trickier in the not to distant future

      There’s something new coming down the pike when it comes to online reviews and such. Software called “Reputation Defender” supposedly combats false negative information online. While this is all well and good, I have to wonder if this same software could be used to try to bury legitimate complaints.

      1. This kind of software’s been around for a while. You can’t blanket-bury negative comments. There a dozens of sites ranging from TripAdvisor to Yelp, and many more. Each has to be dealt with. Reputation Defender only finds the problems to help automating defense.

      2. Companies with negative reviews can use Reputation Management Services or Brand Management Services which is using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strageties to move the negative reviews to page 3 or page 4 of a GoogleBingYahoo search because ~90% of the public do not even look at the Page 1 results that they can’t see on their montior (it is called above the foldbelow the fold…what can be see on the monitor) as well as ~98% of the public do not go to Page 2 of a search.

        Depending upon the situation (i.e. how negative, are the links from *.gov; if there are activecurrent posting of negative commentsreviews; etc.), it can easily take a minumum of 12 months to move these links to page 2.

        Again, depending upon the situation, a company could easily spend $ 100,000 for these SEO strageties.

        In regards to Reputation Defender, it seems to be a software product to help an individual to remove their phone numbers, etc. from websites, records, etc. from what I read on the website. In regards to companies, the website is promoting SEO strageties to hide the negative reviews.

  3. So often I price compare Cheap Caribbean (and other well known online “travel agencies”) only to find that after clicking through the rates are not any less than if one had done business with a more reputable travel agency that is not a call center.

  4. Did the OP did any research before they purchased this all-inclusive package from Cheap Caribbean? We are not talking about a few hundred dollars…we are talking thousands…$ 5,701 to be exact. Ten seconds at Google would have returned enough information for ME to run for the hills. As long as people don’t do their research then the bad travel providers such as Cheap Caribbean will continue to exist.

    “Since we booked an all-inclusive we took only a small amount of cash…”
    – – – – – – – –
    No credit cards? Even if it was all-inclusive, it still makes sense to carry credit cards and cash. They were planning to eat and drink inclusive at this Marriott resort and I am sure that this resort take credit cards.

    “So if you look at your paperwork…” “Don’t take an agent’s word that you have an all-inclusive vacation, no matter what. Get it on paper.”
    – – – – – – – –
    Chris, did the OP received any paperwork from Cheap Caribbean in regards to their package? hotel accomodations? It seems like the OP didn’t receive any paperwork in regards to their accomodations.

    “One way to avoid an unpleasant surprise before you check into a resort is to call ahead to confirm your reservation.”
    – – – – – — —
    Chris, I agree with you that you should always check your reservations before departing your trips as well as carrying copies of your confirmationsreservationsetc. with you. How about dealing with a reputable travel agent (B&M or online)? Again, a quick Google search on Cheap Caribbean will have generated tons of bad reviews. lousy services, compliants with the BBB, etc.

    “I’m troubled that Cheap Caribbean didn’t respond to your written inquiry.”
    – – – – – – – –
    According to the reviews and complaints on the Internet, this is the standard operating procedure for this company.

  5. Still confused…did the emailed/written/printed confirmation at time of booking from Cheap Caribbean all inclusive or not?

  6. I’ve been in touch with Jim Hobbs, the founder of Cheap Caribbean this morning. I want to clarify a few things.

    First, this case was resolved in 2010. I have a backlog of cases for this column, so it’s been a while.

    Second, it appears the customer received a verbal confirmation that she had an all-inclusive stay, when she in fact, didn’t. Mikula said Cheap Caribbean’s executive didn’t respond, but shortly after Marriott fixed this problem, they did — and they refunded the extra money she had to pay.

    In retrospect, I should have contacted Cheap Caribbean in addition to Marriott to solicit a comment. I didn’t do that. Instead, I relied on Mikula for any update on her situation.

    My intent in featuring these cases isn’t to badmouth any company, but to help customers avoid situations like this.

    1. “Second, it appears the customer received a confirmation that she had an all-inclusive stay, when she in fact, didn’t.”
      – – – – – – – – –
      Did the OP actually purchased an all-inclusive stay? If ‘Yes’, did she receive an incorrect confirmation from Cheap Caribbean?

      Or was this a case where the OP thought that it was all-inclusive package but it wasn’t and the travel provider(s) (in this case, Cheap Caribbean and Marriott) ate the difference?

      1. She had a verbal confirmation. This is what I received from Cheap Caribbean:

        After our final review we found that at the time of booking the client had verbalized in the call with our agent their interest in booking an All Inclusive plan, however the agent clearly missed hearing this information and booked the client the European Plan.

        In other words, a review of the phone records suggest the customer was left with the impression she’d booked an all-inclusive, when she hadn’t.

        1. Chris….thank you for the information.

          The OP paid for a ‘European Plan’ trip due to the fault of the Cheap Caribbean agent but ended up with an all-inclusive trip and the price difference between the two packages were borne by Cheap Caribbean and Marriott.

          Kudos to Marriott for eating the costs which they had nothing to do with the mistake. Cheap Caribbean made the mistake so they should have refunded the money plus they should refund the money to Marriott that Marriott paid the OP.

  7. I would imagine this happens more than we know as it’s an overseas location. It seems when travelers venture beyond the border of the US (and this isn’t to say it doesn’t happen in the US) the disreputable nature of employees shines. I’m glad you were able to resolve this, Chris, in favor of the OP. I can’t believe Marriott, when presented with documentation saying “all-inclusive” didn’t honor the reservation and take it up with Cheap Caribbean. Eric probably said it best that they hoped she would simply shut up and go away.

    1. Nancy,
      Would your opinion change if the facts came out that the OP didn’t book an all inclusive vacation, and couldn’t produce documentation that she had a confirmed all-inclusive rate?

      Per Christopher Elliott’s:
      “Second, it appears the customer received a verbal confirmation that she had an all-inclusive stay, when she in fact, didn’t.”

      Thus, it was impossible for Marriott to be presented with documentation of an all-inclusive rate! In fact, the only party that is not at fault here is the Marriott, yet some readers seem to be bashing the Marriott.

      As more facts come in, I really feel the OP bears more responsibility over this situation.

  8. “through a company called Cheap Caribbean”

    It’s probably not fair in the least, but you get what you pay for it with a company name like that.

  9. I don’t think Chris is being fair to the traveller here, which is
    quite unlike him. As he said in a recent column, it is harder to
    negotiate for yourself.

    Personally, I *hate* confrontation, and I hate it even more when it is
    in-person. I do it when I need to, but I’m not good at it. I don’t
    think it is reasonable to blame (or at least imply fault) for the
    customer to not treat a vacation trip as if you were headed to small
    claims court.

    The 2nd through 4th paragraphs can be read two ways – general advice
    to a traveller (good ideas), or criticism of how Ms. Mikula handled
    her situation.

    As one example, “Don’t phone Cheap Caribbean; ask Marriott…” If I
    make a reservation through an agent, I don’t think I am responsible
    for calling every tour operator and hotel to verify my reservation.
    Sure, it would have solved this problem in advance, but it isn’t
    something you should have to do.

    Another example: “…is to have everything in writing.” You may mean
    this as a recommendation, but it comes across to me you (Chris)
    mentioning another thing Ms Mikula did wrong. Sure, I would get a
    copy of my reservations. But I don’t think it is reasonable to except
    me to show up on a vacation with a stack of paper with all the Terms
    and Conditions I can find on, in this case, Cheap Caribbean and
    Marriott.

    Finally, the third paragraph perhaps bugs me the most. “… don’t
    negotiate with your travel agent and split the difference.” I imagine
    this lady, standing in the Caribbean for literal hours, with a quaver
    in her voice from the stress, trying to make the best of the
    situation. She did better than I might have to get some traction
    while standing in the lobby – and it sounds like criticism from you
    that she rolled over too quickly.

    1. I second everything Ben said.

      Quite often I read posts here suggesting that tourists “should know” and “should check” in advance everything that they’re told. And all too often this is unfairly dumping on the tourist, who is NOT a travel agent–that’s why he/she books with someone or some company that is!

      To suggest that the OP should have double-checked with Marriott in advance is to suggest that her attitude should be, “yeah, I trusted you guys at Cheap Caribbean enough to book my vacation through you, but I don’t trust you enough to just show up without confirming everything in advance with Marriott et al, with whom you told me you arranged my stay. I gave you thousands of dollars of my money, but maybe you’re liars.” Right.

      Ditto blaming the OP for thinking it best to split the difference on the spot and sort it out later. So she should have just spent the entire vacation on the phone from the hotel, maybe? and just fasted until they finally agreed to feed her? Like THAT’s logical…

      In short, this is not the OP’s fault. Offhand, considering that she’s apparently not a travel expert, and not a lawyer (neither of which is required to go on vacation, last time I checked), she appears to have done a great job, since she was obliged to think fast, on the spot, and without any outside expert advice.

      1. Sorry Clare, the OP has some responsibility here. Everyone makes mistakes, but “geez oh pete” what ever happened to checking your receipt?!?!? If CC misunderstood and booked a European Plan then didn’t the confirmation say that?

        If I spend $6K on something (and even a lot less) I am going to make darn sure the receipt / confirmation says exactly what I’ve purchased agrees with my expectation. I will clarify any inconsistencies. That’s just my responsibility.

        And yes, if I book through a clearing house or middleman with the word “Cheap” in it I will make a simple phone call to confirm with the supplier.

      2. I disagree. While the OP is not completely at fault, I feel that the OP bears some responsibility for the situation.

        Did the OP not receive a WRITTEN confirmation (either via e-mail or postal mail?)
        Did she REVIEW the written confirmation to verify that she received what she thought she paid for?

        I don’t buy the “but I trusted my travel agent” argument. The situation could have easily been rectified a few days after initial booking had the OP noticed the error and called the agent.

        If the OP had received a written confirmation that indicated the package was an European Plan only, then I feel that she really is fortunate that she got her money back. Agree with AZ that Marriott really went far and beyond what they needed to do, since they were at no fault.

        Again, I’m not asking the OP to be PERFECT, but travelers need to practice reasonable diligence. That includes looking at your reservation and making sure the dates/times/itinerary are correct.

      3. I must agree with Chris in NC and Jjweldon that the OP has some responsibility for the situation.

        When I have dealt with a b&m travel agent for trips outside of the US, they have went over the details of the trip before it was booked as well as to review paperwork for the trip with us when we picked up the paperwork for the tour, etc. When traveling outside of the US, it is more difficult to communicate (i.e. back to the US; locally; Internet; cellphone; etc.); therefore, it makes sense to do a double check of your reservations. Also it makes sense to ask your travel agent how to contact himher if there is going to be a 7 to 12-hr time zone difference, out of the country, etc.

        When dealing with an online travel site, it is very likely that you are not going to have the personal touches of a b&m travel agent so it is even more important to double and triple check the details, paperwork, etc. before you leave on your trip. IMHO, I think that you are acting like your own travel agent when dealing with an onsite booking site; therefore, you need to know your travel stuff.

        How about researching the company, the agent, etc. that you will be doing business with?

        If you are not a travel expert, how about dealing with a professional travel agent for expert advice instead of dealing with an online booking site or an online call center travel agency? How much money did the OP saved on this trip from purchasing it from Cheap Caribbean over a traditional b&m travel agency? Based upon the other comments, it seems like the OP could have dealt with a b&m travel agent for the same price or less.

        If you are going to be a DIY traveler or dealing with an online booking site or an online call center, you need to practice reasonable diligence.

      4. I must agree with Chris in NC and Jjweldon that the OP has some responsibility for the situation.

        When I have dealt with a b&m travel agent for trips outside of the US, they have went over the details of the trip before it was booked as well as to review paperwork for the trip with us when we picked up the paperwork for the tour, etc. When traveling outside of the US, it is more difficult to communicate (i.e. back to the US; locally; Internet; cellphone; etc.); therefore, it makes sense to do a double check of your reservations. Also it makes sense to ask your travel agent how to contact himher if there is going to be a 7 to 12-hr time zone difference, out of the country, etc.

        When dealing with an online travel site, it is very likely that you are not going to have the personal touches of a b&m travel agent so it is even more important to double and triple check the details, paperwork, etc. before you leave on your trip. IMHO, I think that you are acting like your own travel agent when dealing with an onsite booking site; therefore, you need to know your travel stuff.

        How about researching the company, the agent, etc. that you will be doing business with?

        If you are not a travel expert, how about dealing with a professional travel agent for expert advice instead of dealing with an online booking site or an online call center travel agency? How much money did the OP saved on this trip from purchasing it from Cheap Caribbean over a traditional b&m travel agency? Based upon the other comments, it seems like the OP could have dealt with a b&m travel agent for the same price or less.

        If you are going to be a DIY traveler or dealing with an online booking site or an online call center, you need to practice reasonable diligence.

      1. As I said in my post, I think there are two ways to read those paragraphs. Taken as general advice, I think they are good ideas.

        In fact, following suggestions like those, from this site, helped me get a very fair resolution to a booking problem on my last trip.

  10. So the company books European Plan at the same price as all inclusive and just decided to keep the money? Almost $6000 for a hotel room for a week at an all inclusive is a hotel room for what? $800 a night? Must have been a great room – oh wait – its just a Marriott hotel room.

    Of COURSE the OP Wanted all inclusive – no one in the their right mind spends $800 a night for a hotel room at a Marriott . . . .

    1. Depending upon the city (i.e. Hong Kong, London, Paris, Shanghai, etc.), you can spend $ 400 to $ 1,000 a night for a hotel room at a Marriott branded hotels in large cities throughout the world. These hotels are world class properties…we are not talking about Fairfield Inns.

  11. If it sounds to good to be true….
    I wonder if they had made a booking directly with the Marriott it would have been the same price without the aggravation. after you getting involved they reimbursed thiese people. Should have done it immediately. Not under the glare of bad publicity.
    I shall now cancel Cheap Carribean from the newletters I receive!

  12. Just wondering when people are going to figure out that booking a vacation is not something you should do on the internet. Yes, I shop on the internet for approximate costs and to narrow down my options, but I always use a local, reputable travel agency for the actual booking.

  13. So they were actually going to pay $814 a night for hotel room at a Marriott and it was not going to be all-inclusive? Really? Stupid may be is as stupid does but does cheap Caribbean think we are that stupid that we would buy a marriott hotel room anywhere in the world for $800 a night? Really?

    1. The $ 5,701 that the OP paid could have included airfare.

      We don’t know when the OP went to this resort but I went to the Marriott website and selected a week in January 2012 (assuming that this will be the high season) and the room rates were $ 579, $629, $ 729 and $ 804.

      The $ 804 rate included: hot buffet breakfast for 2 adults daily at the Tradewinds Lounge; buffet lunch for 2 adults daily at the Tradewinds Lounge; afternoon tea for 2 adults daily at the Tradewinds Lounge; dinner for 2 adults per person per stay at the Tradewinds Lounge; beer daily in Tradewinds Lounge 6pm-9pm; wine daily, cocktails daily at Tradewinds Lounge 6pm-9pm; soft drinks daily.

      This resort isn’t a Courtyard by Marriott or a typical Marriott hotel…it is a world class resort…read the reviews on TripAdvisors…Marriott just spent $ 50 MM in upgrading the resort…it is located on the beach.

  14. It is time to use a real “live” travel agent and get the heck off of the Internet! We are alive, we put it in writing, the best of us have E and O insurance, and I can price match 98% of all Internet prices. I am the responsible party and take the blame for the above error. Cheap does have a bad reputation, but they Internet big time and do not care if you come back!

  15. @ARW, I typed in Cheap Caribbean scam and it did return a bunch of results with complaints about the website. This wasn’t an computer interface error, a computer interface error would be if they booked a reservation with cheap caribbean and showed up at the hotel and there was no reservation at all. This was clearly an operator error if it truly wasn’t meant to be intentional. This was no fault of Marriott, and they shouldn’t just give an all inclusive package if there isn’t a reservation for that type of package in the system just because these folks said it should be. There is a huge difference between the price of a room and an all inclusive package per night. If they showed up at my hotel saying the package should be all inclusive and can’t produce anything to support that, I would have did exactly what my colleagues did in Aruba minus agreeing to split anything. I would have referred them back to the whatever agency they booked through. I would be as helpful as I can for them to resolve the issue with cheap caribbean. The thing about all inclusive is there are usually minimum nights involved when you stay at the Marriott. You can’t just pay for one night and get all inclusive, you have to pay the difference for the entire stay. Lesson learned is that you need to have a written confirmation for whatever travel plans or packages you book, so there is no question when you arrive at your destination.

    1. “I typed in Cheap Caribbean scam and it did return a bunch of results with complaints about the website.”
      – – – – – – – – – – – –
      Thank you for repeating what I said in a few comments.

      “This wasn’t an computer interface error, a computer interface error would be if they booked a reservation with cheap caribbean and showed up at the hotel and there was no reservation at all.”
      – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
      Since all of the facts were not disclosed originally in the article why the reseravation was not correct when the OP arrived at the hotel, there were some commenters like Eric who thought that Marriott was in on the scam which I thought was ridiculous. I have been a Platinum Marriott Rewards member for years and always have received more compensation than what the situation called in the few times over the past 15 years that I have encountered a problem.

      As a long-time reader of this blog (starting back in the days when it was called Tripso), there are readers of this blog that automatically assume that all travel proviers (in the case, Marriott) are bad. Unlike these readers, I like to know all of the facts before making a judgement.

      In my comments to Eric’s comment, I listed four POSSIBLE reasons why the reservation was incorrect…one was a software interface error. My personal thoughts that it was the fault of Cheap Caribbean as a honest mistake or a dishonest mistake but I wanted to be fair before judging them as well as there is always a chance that Marriott could have screwed up the reservation.

      Again, I can’t beleive the number of individuals that attacked Marriott in their comments without knowing the facts. Again, kudos to Marriott since they ate the cost of their refund to the OP…hope that they did a chargeback to Cheap Caribbean.

  16. I have been researching some of the online companies and all of them seem to have bad reviews.  Does anybody have a favorite company the use?  I was just about to use Cheap Caribbean.  Although I have used them once in the past with no problem.  This just got scary.

  17. I wish I had seen this post earlier! Despite the above, CheapCaribbean continues to demonstrate poor performance in terms of customer service, goodwill maintenance, and financial management. Here’s my experience: I’ve used a lot of similar sites to CheapCarribbean, such as Priceline, Orbitz, etc. to go on large trips. I love to travel. This time I’m traveling with a group of 5 to Cancun. This was a nightmare. Each issue has a number, there are several: (1) The online booking site wouldn’t work so we called the CheapCarribbean main line, (2) where they informed us that it wouldn’t process because our cards we’re getting declined, and therefore our fault- we were shocked (there were 4 different cards) and (3) checked our banks to find that CheapCarribbean had CHARGED EACH CARD THREE TIMES (ex: 1500*3 = 4,500). (5) So the agent apologizes, and says he will fix the issue, but for now can’t process our cards to pay the full amount, we can only pay a percentage (we had wanted to pay in full up front). (6) CheapCarribbean takes forever to remove the pending charges, the largest of which (see above example) – DOES NOT GET REMOVED. I threaten pressing for fraud (because doesn’t that sure sound like it?!) (7) I set-up a three way phone call between my bank, CheapCarribbean, and myself. My bank says “okay CheapCarribbean, you say you’ve given us [bank] the information to remove these pending charges, we still haven’t received it, why don’t you give it to us right now over the phone, and this issue is over?” CheapCarribbean says “NO.” (8) I close my credit card account because THE PENDING CHARGES ARE NEVER REMOVED. (9) We haven’t gone on this trip yet, and still have the remaining balance to pay (now that we think the overage charges have been sorted out). We realize that they charged all our cards DIFFERENT AMOUNTS. (10) I demand compensation, this is the worst experience I’ve ever had with a travel booking company- AND WE HAVEN’T EVEN GONE ON THE TRIP YET. (11) Cheapcarribbean says “sorry, not our fault.” (12) We still haven’t left for our trip, its in a month and a half, God help us.

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