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Should Overseas Adventure Travel cover my airfare for a canceled pretrip excursion?

Overseas Adventure Travel cancels Julie Brown's pre-trip excursion on her Costa Rica tour. But who will pay for her new airline ticket? The company says she's responsible, but is she?

I booked a trip for two to Costa Rica through Overseas Adventure Travel last year. It included pre-trip and post-trip extensions and round-trip airfare from San Francisco. I also paid for a business class upgrade, which cost $2,032 per person.

In late December, I received a call from Overseas Adventure Travel advising that it had canceled the pre-trip portion due to a lack of interest. I had to rebook the airline tickets because the departure date would now be different. Because we were only two months from departure, the cost for this rebooking was an additional $1,056 per person, which the agent advised I would have to pay.

I appealed the decision to the executive contacts on your website but never got a response.

During the trip, I spoke to some of the travelers who indicated they had inquired last October about the pre-trip. Overseas Adventure Travel told them the pre-trip had been canceled. But the company waited another two months to advise me of the cancellation. If it had told me immediately once the decision was made to cancel the pre-trip, the air would have been much less than two months before departure. -- Julie Brown, San Ramon, Calif.

A: You're right, Overseas Adventure Travel bears some responsibility for the increase in your costs. If it knew that your pre-trip was canceled, it should have told you immediately. Instead, it appears the company waited several months. And it's no secret that airfares start to rise as you get closer to your departure date.

Overseas Adventure Travel's terms are clear. "Company is not responsible for any losses you may incur" as a result of cancellations.

I'm also troubled by the way the company handled your request for help. You started with a polite phone call and then followed up in writing, first through the customer service department and then to an Overseas Adventure Travel executive (as you note, I list their names and numbers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org).

"When I spoke with several customer service reps at Overseas Adventure Travel, they told me that they never respond to written correspondence and that we needed to call them, not write to them," you told me. "They also refused to let me speak with a supervisor or manager."

I have a problem with that kind of "customer service." A company should always answer its customers, even if it's to politely say "no."

If you're considering a tour with Overseas Adventure Travel, it's helpful to know that they will hold you responsible for their schedule changes, at least when it comes to airfare. Also, they may not respond to your email.

I contacted Overseas Adventure Travel on your behalf. A representative responded to me.

"Regarding Ms. Brown's experience with customer service, we have expanded our traveler support team and extended our hours of operation to address the high volume of inquiries," the representative told me. "We spoke with Ms. Brown, and she accepted a $2,100 certificate in compensation for this issue."

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him on his site.

© 2023 Christopher Elliott

 

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