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Need Advice - Agent doubles trip cost when final deposit is due

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Aug 13th, 2012, 12:42 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Nov 2005
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Need Advice - Agent doubles trip cost when final deposit is due

Earlier in the year, I worked with a UK based operator to arrange a trip planned for later this year. The language in the final itinerary was somewhat confusing - "based on two adults traveling together and sharing a room". This didn't clearly say "per person" so I emailed the operator to confirm the rate (for the land portion and then for the per person air which was costed separately), and just to be certain, confirm the grand total. The agent responded and confirmed "that is correct." I made the initial deposit which was 10% of the total cost, and on the booking form circled "10% = " and then the amount that I was paying based on the total that had been confirmed.

I have asked for a receipt, balance update several times, but never received it. Earlier in the week, I emailed the agent confirming the amount due - listing the total, the amount that had been paid, and the balance. He responded noting that the math was incorrect - noting that the land rate was per person. Basically, I owe almost double what I was expecting to pay. We reviewed the email where he said my total was correct, and the agent clearly made an oversight. I'm just not sure how this could have been overlooked THREE times (missing the mistake in the total I asked about, confirming that total, and then missing the difference when I paid the 10% deposit).

Based on trip reports in this forum, others have used this tour operator and have had positive experiences (have not read any negative ones). My question is two-fold:
1) What would you do if you had an email stating the total and were then told something different (2x as expensive)
2) Is this a legitimate oversight or some sort of bait and switch?
Toshi is offline  
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Aug 13th, 2012, 03:31 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Post your itinerary here and ask for a quote from some reliable agents on this forum.
luangwablondes is offline  
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Aug 13th, 2012, 04:12 PM
  #3
 
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Have you tried to contact this persons supervisor or the head of the agency. I would sit down with them and go over all your emails.
schmerl is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2012, 03:49 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Hi Toshi

I cannot imagine how such a mistake could be made!

From my experience,when you accept a quote for a trip,then you get an invoice which would state the amount owing, then when you pay the deposit, you get another invoice less your payment which shows the balance due and they normally give a very clear date when this needs to be paid by.

I don't understand this at all - where are you?

It just seems an extremely careless mistake to have made.

Posting your itinerary and costing may help as agents can give you an idea if you were paying a reasonable amount for such a trip.

Good luck and hope it all works out!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Aug 14th, 2012, 03:52 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,087
Since you have done research, this forum as an example, you clearly have knowledge of the general costs of a safari. You noticed that the agents language did not precisely quantify that it was per person sharing, so you have some responsibility in the misunderstanding too. You also doubted the costs by highlighting the value of the deposit , etc. Unfortunately for you the operator realised the mistake and has billed you for the final and correct amount due.

What would concern me more, at this point, is the diligence of the operator and what services you are being billed for that have not been dutifully booked in your favour.

To answer your question.

1) Cancel my safari and request a refund of the deposit.
2) Bait and switch implies changing something, however you do not speak of any itinerary amendments therefor, no switch, merely error.

If you go, enjoy your safari and I do hope that you aren't left stranded along the road somewhere.
mkhonzo is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2012, 10:45 AM
  #6
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Thanks for the replies.

Lessons Learned:
1) Insist on a final invoice with totals and deposit due
2) Insist on updates to this invoice after each deposit/payment
(I asked for both of these, numerous times, but it was never sent - next time I insist)

The agent is not honoring the original quote, but has agreed to reduce the cost significantly. This agent has a very solid reputation where I am traveling, so keep your fingers crossed that this was a mere oversight and I won't be endlessely wandering the airport looking for a sign with my name on it !
Toshi is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2012, 08:09 PM
  #7
 
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Good luck Toshi and we'll be looking forward to how you make out! When is your trip?
KathBC is offline  
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Aug 15th, 2012, 06:04 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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I am not defending the agent, but when I read "based on two adults traveling together and sharing a room" it reminded me of just how many times I have seen this type of language in the safari industry. Being in the industry I now understand what it means, but it isn't clear to somebody who hasn't been before. It needs to be better spelled out and a final invoice price that is easily understood.
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Aug 15th, 2012, 09:04 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Hi Guys
For the past 18 years we have been quoting on African Safaris and unlike the USA or Europe the quotes are ALWAYS per person sharing so don't get confused. Africa works this way.

Yours on Safari
Mark
Taga_Safaris is offline  
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Aug 15th, 2012, 10:09 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 268
The thing is, I think
"$3000 based on two adults traveling together and sharing a room" is unclear.
"$3000 per person based on two adults traveling together and sharing a room" is clear.
If the "per person" is missing, I can see that it is confusing, if that was the way it was worded.
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