I hoping those of you who are with the industry or those who are long time cruise travelers can give us advice.
We purchased a Country Music Theme Cruise with an Agency in Ga back in March 2004. The cruise was advertised on the Country Groups site at the time(They are very well known in Country Music) The cruise was a Carnival Cruise and we went first class reserving the Category 12 Cabin since it was our 24th anniversary.
It cost us $3000.00, for a 4 day cruise with a private concert and dinner with this Country Group. We bought the travel insurance they offered but it was never explained to us- nor did they ever send us a Policy.
We made our $400.00 initial despot via Credit Card and the balance was sent in through the summer with final payment made(all by check) by September1st when it was due.
Our Sail date was November 18.
A Month before sailing we had to cancel due to injury and a surgey needed because of the injury.
WE contact the TRavel Agency via email(this was how we kept in contact with them)and left them know we would have to cancel. We were told they canceled and that the 50% cancellation would be in effect. They would refund us 50% of what we paid and the other 50% would come from the Insurance(which we found much later was with Carnival Cruise).
We were never given any booking number no matter how many times we asked but they did send us invoices showing each payment made and the Cruiseline it was credited for.
We were also told that we would have a form that needs to be filled out by the doctor and they would send it to us after the Cruise was finished as they did not get any paperwork until then.
Well, we waited and got the 50% refund at the end of November with a note we had to get the rest from the Insurance company. No Paperwork was enclosed, no Insurance Policy, no Booking number.
They basicly said Your own your own. I contact Carnival Cruise and they informed me of what insurance agency was used and told me what to do.
WE still needed the Policy number and Booking number- we wrote the Travel Agency who said to us: We did our part and since you contacted Carnival and they told you what to do our business is finished here!
We wrote back and told them what about the Doctors paperwork .
They wrote back and said: We do not handle any insurance forms and never had. (This was totally opposite of what they told us via email).
They kept a $200.00 non refundable deposit and insisted they got nothing from it- that it was the Country Group that got it and they made no money from Our Non Refundable deposit.
Talking with Carnival they gave us the Insurance companies number and website and we filled the form out without a Policy number, booking number explaining that the Agency Never gave it to us.
6 weeks later we got a Much Smaller refund then we were suppose to. It turns out Carnival could only find the Initial Deposit we made by Credit Card credited for us for the cruise and not the Rest of the $2500.00 we paid- they told us to go back to the Agency and get the Money.
We filed a Complaint with The Better Business Bureau and wrote to the Agency- who wrote a Very Nasty Letter back saying they did pay Carnival the amount and Thanks for filing the complaint we told the Better Business Bureau about you!
WE could not believe the response! They tried to twist the complaint around like we are the bad guys ! They are the ones who a have our money and never helped us even once with the refund process.
At this time we pleaded with Carnival cruise to check again for the payment and we faxed them documentation- 5 weeks later they have Not found any money deposited for us by this agency.
We are waiting for a Letter from Carnival who said the Agency has the money. WE plain on filing a Complaint with the Georgia Attorney Generals Office in hopes of getting the $1000.00 owed us.
I would like to hear from anyone who can guide us on what else we can do.
We went with this Travel Agency as it was the one that was picked by this country group to represent them on this cruise. We trusted the fact they they would not Rip off their fans by picking a shady company.
The company by the way is not with the Better Business Bureau(no surprise)..
I for one never use the cruiseline insurance, to many horror stories like yours.
The money lost can be deducted as a loss on the 2004 filing of taxes if that helps. No I'm not a CPA but use one and we did do that on an airline flight that did not reimburse us for a ticket we could not use (their fault).
And for anyone else reading, always check to make sure agencies are qualified with BBB and CLIA. Do the research for that agency before booking. A few dollars more with a reputable TA can save you heartache in the long run.
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__________________ Ready to Steer towards another cruise
Paying with a check created a big loophole! By doing so you gave the travel agency your money, and the responsibility to get the money to Carnival. Carnival seems to be saying they never got the funds.
NO ONE should EVER pay for their cruises with cash/check directly through the travel agent!
If that was the case, and the insurance was through Carnival, they never got paid for that either.
I'm assuming you have the cancelled checks, showing your payments. At least that would be a place to start.
I'd take copies of that, and have a lawyer write the agency demanding a copy of your booking #. Without a booking # I don't see how Carnival can know if your fare was paid or not.
I am not trying to be a parrot but Kuki's advice is very sound. In this day and age it is not a wise idea to pay for your cruise with cash, check or money order unless you have a very long and trusting history with the agent. Even then I would have second thoughts.
I am not saying this against you but many people do tout that they do not use credit cards but it is 2005 and credit or purchase cards are a major part of how transactions are done.
They can be stolen used against you but they also can be used to cover you in the event you don't get what you purchased. They have become a part of our lives. People can continue to complicate their lives by not using them or put in half the amount of time and energy and figure out how to use the cards safely and responsibly.
OK, I'm off my soapbox.
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Yes, I see we should have paid by credit card. We used my husbands corporate card for the down payment but his company changed it's policy about personal use of the card so we then wrote checks for the remainder of the cruise.
I have meet the members of this country group (Montgomery Gentry) and even talked with their management in Nashville a few times as Troy liked my Art Work( I am a craft Artists and designed a Montgomery Gentry Purse).
I also have met their Rep from Jim Beam who helped Sponsor the Cruise.(He is in the picture with me and Troy-link below.
I had intended to contact Pam their Manger in Nashville and tell her what happened and refresh her memory of who I am.
I know they have no idea what has happened here. I hope my letter is an eye opener on how Fans are treated by this Agency they picked to Represent them on their cruise.
I will keep you all updated on what has happened.
You can see Troy Gentry,myself Wix(Rep from Jim Beam) and my Purse Design on my Website: www.kraftique.com
Since you gave the money to the travel agent (and one in the music business no less) and Carnival has no record of ever receiving it, nor did you ever receive a booking number, it looks preety obvious that the agent took the money, not Carnival.
I was in the music biz for many years - and now I am in the Cruise business. I would trust a cruise person ten times more than anyone in the music business.
I would file a small claims court claim against the agency ASAP while you still know where the people are. They are easy claims to file - no lawyers required.
SO sorry about your troubles!!
I am the editor, but I also speculate, ask questions and play devil's advocate. I reserve the right to change my mind.
Yes, what Paul said - small claims court and then I might go looking for a lawyer if I were you. What a horror story! Good luck and let us know what happens.
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Ilve in Florida. With that being said the advice I give is FL based. You might try looking in your state for something equal. I contacted the department of Consumer affairs. Most states require the TA to be licensed or bonded in the state. Your State may have such provisions. contact them and file a complaint. Also request the bonding information from the TA. This will create some anxiety. If you file with the bonding company they will audit the claim and create a major headache for the TA.
A bad day crusing is better than a good day at work!!!! Where's the beach!
that is just horrible.
For future reference, always pay for your cruise/air with a credit card. In fact my TA will not accept checks for payment of a cruise/air just for that reason.
Small claims court is the way to go.
I know that hindsight,...... but always check and double check all of your documents, including insurance