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The unusual case of Karen and her holiday hassles

February 15, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email


Karen and her family, who live in New South Wales, couldn’t wait to go on their well-earned holiday to their home country of Brazil, so she found an online travel agency that specialised in South America and booked the accommodation, local flights and tours by email.

Karen wanted to have their travel organised and pre-booked to avoid hassle and discomfort, especially as they were travelling with their six-year-old son.

The case of Karen (her surname is not supplied) and her family has been used by NSW Fair Trading as an example of modern travel hassles and how they can be dealt with.

Karen had paid for her family’s travel arrangements a month before departure and was waiting for her travel documents. It was getting closer to Christmas and Karen was getting a bit nervous as she still hadn’t received her travel itinerary and accommodation vouchers.

She contacted the travel agency and three days before their departure and shortly after Christmas, she received their travel documents by courier. All seemed to be fine and they headed off on the 40-hour trip, via the USA, to Brazil.

When Karen finally got to their hotel in Rio she found there was no accommodation booked under their names. Exhausted after a long-haul flight, Karen was furious and had nowhere to go. All the rooms and hotels in the city were booked out as it was holiday season.

Karen with her suitcase

NSW Fair Trading continues: Luckily the hotel manager offered them a single room for two nights only. Karen and her husband spent three days of their first week in Rio sorting out the problem and found out that the local travel company the Sydney travel agency dealt with hadn’t received the payment and so nothing was actually booked. Karen had to pay for all the accommodation and tours again.

When she returned from holidays Karen tried to contact the travel agency in Sydney to be reimbursed for all her pre-paid travel expenses. After three weeks of phone calls and emails, Karen didn’t get any response, so she threatened legal action. The agency asked her not to take legal action promising full reimbursement, but Karen still hadn’t received her refund.

She contacted NSW Fair Trading and lodged a complaint online. The next day Karen received a call from a Fair Trading officer advising her case reference number and that a case officer would be in contact with Karen in the next few days. Karen finally felt she was getting somewhere. Within four days she was fully reimbursed.

Karen told Fair Trading: “Fair Trading obviously had made the impact. I would definitely recommend them.”

That’s according to the NSW Fair Trading website.

Some readers, with experience of travel companies crashing and online operations turning out to be bogus, fraudulent or dodgy, may consider that Karen was remarkably lucky.

Edited by Peter Needham



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