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Beware booking trips to the Galapagos

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Fellow travellers,
I had an experience in Ecuador, which has left me $1,200 out of pocket?.This is what happened:

June 24, Saturday, I paid to Douglas Chang of Centro Viajero, Guayaquil, Ecuador, IATA number 79935811, phone 099-752433, e-mail centrovi@telconet.net, one thousand two hundred American dollars in cash for voucher 5328. This was to cover a five-day cruise of the Galapagos commencing on Monday, June 27, finishing on Friday July 1 2005, on board the Archipel II. Douglas paid this money on to a tour company Galacruises, my contact there is Lucero Cevallos,
e-mail lucero@galacruises.com, telephone 02 290 3391.
I also paid Doug $360 dollars for a flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos with the airline AeroGal.

June 27 Monday. I was scheduled to fly on AEROGAL Flight 032 depart Guayaquil at 09.30 arriving in the Galapagos, booking reference 0334AD6.
I was at the airport at 07.00.
I went to check in but was told to join a special line for foreigners going to the Galapagos.
A representative from AeroGal speaking perfect English told me the flight was delayed and I was to wait in the restaurant and she would call me. Every fifteen minutes or so I went to the desk and I was told to wait.
Then at 11.00 I was told the plane had gone and that I had missed the flight! For whatever reason AeroGal had made a muddle of things and I had missed my flight.

I went to the office of Centro Viajero and I was told the boat was gone and the one thousand two hundred dollars I had paid was lost also. I could not accept this but I was told Galacruises would not refund the money nor would they offer an alternative trip.

So now I have lost $1,200. At the moment I am sending e-mails to Gabriela Sommer General Manager from AEROGAL, e-mail gsommerfeld@aerogal.com.ec but AeroGal are adamant I missed the flight. (I eventually did fly to the Galapagos on Friday, July 1, using the same plane ticket but I had to dole out another $1,200 for a cruise around the Islands.)

I think the moral of the story is to pay for trips using your credit card, if you find yourself in the same situation as me you just reject the charge on your statement.

Yours sincerely

Liam O’Reilly

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