The Travel Troubleshooter: Help Me! Paid Twice For An All-Inclusive Vacation

Question: Recently, we planned a visit to Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino via an agency known as Cheap Caribbean. We took the all-inclusive option offered by the hotel which comes inclusive of beverages, activities and meals. A total of $5,701 was quoted for this option.

What horror and disbelief we got when we arrived at the Marriott to be told that the reservation made was only for the room; apparently, we were not going to enjoy the all-inclusive option. Since we had opted for the all-inclusive option, we had only taken with us very little cash- which by all standards was very little to sustain us for the week we were to be at the hotel.

So we contacted Cheap Caribbean’s customer service at the Marriotts’ check-in. what they told us shocked us even further. They asked for an extra $3,000 so that they could make it all-inclusive. After a barrage of calls between the Marriott, my daughter and Cheap Caribbean, we finally settled on splitting the cost between the three of us and Cheap Caribbean just to get the issue resolved. After all, a whole vacation day had already gone the drain, it was only best we started enjoying the little time left.

To be honest, it saddens us to think that Cheap Caribbean ripped us off. The quoted vacation deal was not what we got! We even wrote a letter to Cheap Caribbean’s president, but to our dismay, we have never received any confirmation or an answer to the issue. What can we do? Please assist us. – Esther Mikula of Tinley Park, Illinois.

Answer: It was not right for you to pay an extra amount for the all-inclusive vacation. The Marriott and Cheap Caribbean were the responsible parties and were supposed to honor the reservation without having to charge extra.

Never negotiate with a travel agent or even consider splitting the difference. If your reservation quotes an all-inclusive, you have to get the drinks, activities and meals. So if the deal you paid for quoted all-inclusive then there is, or was, one thing- get the services you paid for; no negotiation.

To avoid unpleasant surprises such as this next time you check in to a resort, the best thing to do is call to confirm whether your reservation was made. Don’t call the agency, but the resort instead. This way, a representative at the resort can confirm it for you; saving you a lot of time, trouble and money.

On the other hand, to ensure you receive services paid for, it will be important to always have your deal in writing. This includes having the reservation stating all-inclusive, room type and the rate agreed upon. Never, under any circumstance, take an agent’s when striking a deal. Make sure it is on paper. This way, you will ease any negotiations if they arise.

It is troubling to hear that Cheap Caribbean never responded to your letter. However, i think sending a polite and brief email via their website- rather than sending a written letter- would have been the best call-to-action. I recommend using the right channels before airing the matter to a company’s president. Nonetheless, someone should have, at least acknowledged the letter; which they never did.

Also it would have been advisable to check the matter up with the Marriott to know why your deal was never honored. I contacted Marriott and requested them to look at the reservation you had made. One of their representatives got back to you and gave a refund of the extra charges you paid for.

Update: The agency, Cheap Caribbean got in touch after this issue was aired and they too refunded the extra amount that Mikula had paid for.

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