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HELP! Travel agent AWOL and trip 10 days way!

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Jun 6th, 2007, 08:58 AM
  #1
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HELP! Travel agent AWOL and trip 10 days way!

This is my first post here. I don't want to bash my agent, because I am still hoping to sort things out--but that seems increasingly unlikely. I'll also spare you the details of all that's gone wrong and just ask specific advice.

I found out that our booking in V. Falls has not been made. I requested this booking 2 months ago. We have already paid agent to make the booking. I am thinking at this point that I have to make the booking elsewhere--there is availability, and I got a quote from go2africa. There is also a problem re: one flight, which it turns out may have to be a charter, and may be more exspensive than he quoted us/we paid for. The camp operator in Zambia is willing to arrange, but I am worried that it will exceed what we agreed to pay.

Agent said he made wire transfer to the camps we're using, and they are waiting for it. They are proceeding with our booking as though it's coming, and I just pray that it comes through.

I have send myriad emails re: this over the past few weeks, and called, and still no response to me or the camps on these issues.

I am thinking of filing complaints with the BBB and/or ASTA. This will have to wait until after our trip, I suppose. Any advice on how to handle this situation? Thanks!!!
hali is offline  
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Jun 6th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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When did the agent make the wire transfers, and how long do they usually take? How long has your agent been awol? Is there no one else in the office to help, or is this a one man band? If there is one accomodation and one flight booking not made, then you may have to suck it up and make those arrangements yourself, otherwise your trip will fall apart. Does travel insurance cover this kind of thing I wonder?
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Jun 6th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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Napamatt, thanks for your response.

Wire transfer was supposed to have been made on May 31. Normally takes 4 days, but camp said it could take longer. So, I could be waiting until the week before my trip to know if they received. Mind you, I authorized final payment on 4/30.

One man band. I am of course now kicking myself for not choosing a bigger operator. Good question re: travel insurance. I can check into. I also have to see if Amex can help.

The agent has sent 1 or 2 emails in the last two weeks--very brief and not addressing the issues I or the camps have raised.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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Did you pay with an Amex? If so, you can definitely dispute any portions of the trip that weren't delivered.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Hi! I'm so sorry to hear about this. I would definitely file a complaint with BBB and ASTA as your agent has failed to deliver on his agreement with you.

Amex is very good about this sort of thing, so hopefully they can help. Some travel insurance policies do have a clause where they will cover you if your agent goes out of business, which it sounds like yours might be if he is not responding to your emails and calls.

Personally, I would really appreciate knowing the name of your agent...there seems to have been a number of problems with agents recently and as my sister and me get close to choosing one it would help us to know if there are any we should avoid.

MoiraS
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Jun 6th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Just so you know you're not alone...

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=35003628
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Jun 6th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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MoiraS, thanks for your reply. This is booked on my father-in-law's credit card. I will have him contact Amex to see what we can do. Hate to have to involve him in this mess--was hoping to sort it out on my own.

Re: travel insurance, it seems that most do not cover travel agents but to cover suppliers. Not sure why this is.

I'm not trying to be coy re: the identity of the agent, I just feel better about waiting until I find out for sure the status of the payments to camps etc. until I post that information. I do appreciate your wanting to know, though.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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Wire transfers are instantaneous. That's why you use them. Did your TA give you a fed number? That's the tracking number the camps' banks can use to track the payment and see if they were ever sent.

If you paid with Amex, then you should be able to dispute the charges to the TA and then book directly with the camps.

Also, have an attorney send him a nasty letter. ASAP. That might shock him back into reality. If he doesn't respond, then file suit immediately. The sooner you get line, the more likely you might get your money back.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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Also, given that he hasn't returned your call for 7 days, I don't think you owe him any privacy. Out the sucker.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 07:44 PM
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I have had wires take several days going to Africa but hills27 is correct. If he wired the money he should be able to give you the fed wire # (not the wire number that the bank assigned internally). But if he's not answering emails, I guess you should wait another day or two to see if the camp receives the money.

If you haven't gotten this squared away in the next day or two, I would go through Amex and cancel/dispute the charge. I hope you get everything worked out.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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When you are comfortable doing so, please let us know who the agent is. I hope this all resolves for you. Good luck.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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I am no financial expert but have done a couple of wire transfers in the last week from accounts at one US bank to accounts at another US bank.. While the wire transfer is immediate, there apparently is a verification period before the transaction is considered completed. In my case although the wires were done last Friday, as of today the funds are still not available for withdrawl. I would imagine it would take even longer for an overseas transfer. So while the camps may have received the transfers, they may not provide receipts until they verify the transfer. Perhaps someone in financial services can confirm this or tell me I am badly misinformed.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 08:00 PM
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Wires from US to Africa can take from 1 - 3 business days... usually one or two. When I paid camp fees this year, they went through next day.

Good luck.. I hope things work out for you.

Richard
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Jun 6th, 2007, 09:18 PM
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I'm in financial services and I wire money within the US on a regular basis. From the time you initiate the wire, it takes the wire room maybe 30 minutes to send the wire, depending on their volume. It takes about 5-10 minutes, at most, to get a fed number. On the other side, it usually takes a few minutes for the receiving bank to post it. Once it does, it is immediately available. Tuckeg, your bank is wrong in refusing to make the funds available to you.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 09:28 PM
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Thanks hills27. As I mentioned, I knew the transfer was immediate, but I thought their delay in allowing access to the funds was because all the fraudulent activity lately was making them do extra checks. Actually I didn't try to access them except online where they showed as being in the account but not available for any transactions until this afternoon. Perhaps the problem was with their computer, maybe if I had called I could have accessed them. I was not trying to do a transaction but was checking to be sure the transfers were made when I noticed on both accounts that the funds had been received on Friday but were not accessible.
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Jun 6th, 2007, 10:17 PM
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It took my deposit a couple days to actually reach my TA's account.

Money was wired from the U.S. on a Saturday, which means it didn't actually go across the pond until Monday. TA "got it" on either Wednesday or Thursday. I just chalked it up to processing time, although, it was a little nerve racking until I got the email from TA stating he had received the money in his account.
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Jun 7th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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hali

Any word on your WT?
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Jun 7th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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First of all, thanks to all of you for their advice and moral support.

I heard from TA yesterday, after my husband left probably 10+ messages. He assured me that the funds were being sent today...although he assured me that funds were being sent on May 31, too. Said he'd fax me confirmation of the transfer. The camp operator in Zambia has been unable to reach the property we want to book in Vic Falls, but TA seems to have disregarded this information and told her to book it. I informed him that I can book it on my own (found availability through go2africa), but I need him to refund that part of the trip. I sent him an email a few minutes ago based on your advice to ask for the fedwire #.

If I don't get that information by tomorrow, I'm going to have to book the property myself, and contact Amex about getting that $ back. Just am praying that the wire transfer is really going through--when he keeps delaying things, it's hard to believe him when he says he's *really* going to do it *today*!

I'll let you know tomorrow what happens--and thanks again for your help.

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Jun 7th, 2007, 02:56 PM
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It may be helpful if you could share the name of your agent -- many of us prefer to work with very responsive, hand-holding agents; these trips are very expensive, and many of us, myself included, need constant attention. Frankly, I don't think I'd be able to work with an agent who disappeared for more than one day (I'd tolerate one day since emergencies do arise, but I would expect an agent to have contingency plans if he or she needed to disappear for more than one day).
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Jun 7th, 2007, 03:47 PM
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Hali

Good news, particularly the use of Amex, any dispute of charges puts a big onus of prrof on the merchant, I know, and if the details are not cut and dried, then Amex take care of their cardholder.
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