Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Caribbean Islands (
-   -   Warning: Don't book with Sunquest! (

liltravlr Apr 29th, 2009 12:22 PM

Warning: Don't book with Sunquest!
Vacations are great, but DON’T BOOK WITH SUNQUEST! They took my money, booked my vacation at prices I could have got on my own, left me stranded, and provided absolutely no customer “service”.
I booked a Mexico tour, air, transfers and hotel with Sunquest in March. I went on short notice because I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I booked at the Riu Caribe after the tour for a simple and luxurious treat as I had never stayed in an all-inclusive before. I was looking forward to a worry-free last few days before I had to come back to major surgery (mastectomy), three reconstruction surgeries and cancer treatments. Even though the way I usually travel I do not book transfers, I had especially paid for a departure transfer so I would not have to worry about making it to the airport on time as I had a critical appointment the next day.
Other than my arrival transfer being an hour late, everything went fine until the morning I was to leave. My flight was not until 9:20pm, but I became concerned that I had not heard from the transfer company which I found unusual. I had not received any messages. Reception referred me to the Sunquest desk. The clerk showed me a binder which showed my flight number, day of departure and destination and it indicated pickup would be 6:15pm at the hotel. Not content with this, I thought I should check with the Sunquest representative. It was 9:50am and I was informed she would be in between 10am-12pm.
At 11:50am I found “Camelia” in the lobby and she confirmed that my transfer would pick me up at 6:15pm. I showed her my written confirmation/voucher but she did not check me on any list. I found this disturbing so attempted to call the Mexico number provided on the voucher (011 52 998 848 9999). When I called it said the number was not able to be completed.
I then called the 001 800 514 4937 number on the voucher, which I gather was specifically designed to deal with these kinds of problems. The idiot woman who answered put me on hold before asking my name or problem. I had to hang up after being on hold for 8 minutes, because my cell cost me $3US/minute, which was amounting to the cost of paying for a taxi to the airport anyway.
I figured I had done all I could to prepare for the transfer, so enjoyed my last day then showed up at 6:10pm in the lobby with my luggage. At 6:15pm, a driver came from Viajes Caribe Maya, which was the company who was to take me to the airport. The driver could not find my name on his list but put my luggage in the van anyway while he called it in. I was sure it was a misunderstanding but he kept pointing to the list which did not have my name on it. Ironically, as this was happening, I was on the phone with a friend I’d met who worked for a transfer company. He had offered to take me to the airport but since I’d paid for a transfer I thought I’d save him the trouble and declined. My phone ran out of minutes and I hung up.
By 6:30, I was arguing with the van driver, stating I had to get going to the airport, as it was already less than 3 hours before the plane left and I prefer to BE at the airport 3 hours before. At 6:45 I was desperately speaking to him and the radio clerk who insisted that since my name was not on the list they were not to take me. I was flabbergasted, since I had a voucher in my hand with their name on it. In English and Spanish, I described how I had booked, paid, had written voucher and verbal confirmation by Camelia that morning that they were to take me. Nevertheless, they kicked me out of the van, and to my great embarrassment left me standing on the roadside at 6:50pm.
I went to reception to see if they could raise someone from Viajes Caribe Maya. The reception clerk kindly tried several times but no one answered. He then called Camelia on her cell at 044 998 147 0644. She was blunt and rude and said there was nothing she could do for me. The reception clerk then called the Sunquest desk at the airport and we spoke to Luis Sardonata at 998 147 0644. He also was blunt and said that it was Viajes Caribe Maya’s problem and I had to call them. I said we had tried and he assured me if I tried again they would for sure answer. Reception called their number again, no answer, and we called Luis back. He said my only choice was to take a taxi to the airport and deal with Sunquest later. The problem was I had not reserved enough cash to pay for a taxi because I did not think I needed it!
I said Sunquest should pay for the taxi but Luis said there was nothing he could do for me. I asked if he suggested I should take a cab and then grab my bag and run for it and get arrested? He again refused to pay for the transfer though I had proof I had paid Sunquest. By this time I was in tears and told him I was going to call the police.
An American couple who saw me crying offered me some money. I eventually took a taxi to the airport because I was afraid to miss my flight. The driver took me to the wrong terminal. By the time I got to the Air Transat counter, I was physically and emotionally worn out, and the female clerk told me seriously, “You are the LAST to check in.” She called on the radio for the luggage people to advise mine was coming.
To add further insult to injury, I had a seat in the last row by the bathrooms, which did not recline, which meant I was served food and drinks last, and the crew seemed perturbed I was in a seat usually reserved for their things. There was a blast of cold air coming down from above the whole time which necessitated my using two blankets and sitting with my sweater and jacket on and both hoods over my head and caused me to catch a cold. I was last off the plane and so was last getting through customs and got home at 4am.
The next day, I told my travel agent what had happened. After some effort, he got through to Sunquest Customer Service, who told me I had to fax or email my complaint. I sent it off 2 days later and got a generic email reply that it would be looked at in 30 days. In my letter I explicitly warned that I wanted a cheque for the price of the taxi I had paid, at my house within 14 days, or I would advertise Sunquest’s lousy customer service to everyone I knew.
I heard nothing. 14 days later, I called their Customer Service (what a laugh) number, 1 800 387 8438. I was told my letter had gone to Katarina Detopoulos, a legal assistant. Her voicemail said she was away for 2 weeks. I asked to speak to the manager and got the voicemail of Linda Wright, Director of Customer Service. I asked to speak to a live person and got the voicemail of Robert Lambert, Customer Service Manager. After having spent an hour on the phone on hold by this time, I gave up and left a message. He did call me back to advise that a cheque for $24 had been “requisitioned” and I should get it the next week.
That was 12 days ago. I again called yesterday and Katarina was still away and the receptionist said the cheque had not been done yet. I asked how else I was to be compensated, as I had specifically advised in my letter that more was necessary (ie even an offer to pay for my cell calls and apology would have been nice!) Today (after Katarina was supposed to be back at work), I again left a message for her and Robert Lambert and have heard nothing.
Accordingly, I will be telling everyone I know, the Automobile Associations, the Better Business Bureau, the Canadian Bar Association travel organizers, travel forums, local papers, travel magazines, newsletters and websites, my friends, family, associates, etc, to avoid Sunquest like the plague.

KVR Apr 30th, 2009 03:50 AM

I am very sorry to hear about your struggle, but it seems alot of fret for just $24.00. I know it's more prinicpal of the matter. We've had issues arise like this on a couple of occasions, but unlike you just paid for the taxi and contacted our TA when we got back home. If the company didn't make it right, than our TA would. Really, no big deal. I'm also sorry to hear about your diagnoise. Maybe the worry and concern over your health acerbated your inconvenience. I hope everything goes well for you. My husband was diagnoised with cancer in 2005 and has luckily been doing well since then.

I would really be more intrested in a reading your trip report regarding the RIU Caribe and your overall stay.

LissaJ May 1st, 2009 02:21 PM

That's too bad about your problems. I find it funny though, that you needed a voucher at all. Sunquest usually sends vouchers for the flights and hotels..All of their packages include transfers as a standard. Transfers when you book their packages aren't something you need to pay extra for.

I had once been booked with Transat Holidays..same sort of deal hotel and air package, and my name was not on the transfer list..I was told to take a cab and keep the receipt, and I was promptly refunded. It was embarrassing, but I tried not to let it ruin my holiday.

I wouldn't write off the whole company based on one problem..Generally they are a great company to deal with.

Also, I agree with the other poster...your TA should take care of it if Sunquest won't, and also they should be the ones to deal with Sunquest, not you, that’s what they're there for.

liltravlr May 1st, 2009 09:43 PM

Thanks for your kind words. Actually, I did go back to my travel agent and got, "Sorry, I'm sure they will deal with it in time..." No offer to refund me.
The rest of my trip was great. I usually don't stay in nice hotels like the Hyatt or Riu; I usually backpack or take a budget tour like GAP or Tucan and stay in small hotels. I had lined up (9 months planning) a trip from Mexico thru Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but everything got chucked when I was diagnosed because I had a lot of tests and appointments to do and suddenly didn't feel like hardship travel. But, I wanted to clear my head, get some sun after a crappy winter and get away. I'd wanted to see Cancun for years so went online, found a Globus tour leaving the next week, walked into the travel agency, booked the flight and put the request in for the tour and called a couple of the other places I had lined up to stay. The Globus tour went from Cancun (Omni Hotel, very nice, really luxe, across the street from a little shop, on the bus route, beautiful room and deck but hard winds made the water too rough) to Tulum, which was fun to see but even more fun to run down to the beach below the ruins because it was the first time I went swimming! Super hot sun, just how I like it, every day. From there we drove to Chichen Itza, 2 nights at the Mayaland Hotel. Really nice again, more traditional style with wood shutters, so some voices carried but the view (west got sunset on my balcony and view of ruins) was gorgeous, gardens and nice pool and a nice walk to the ruins. Chichen Itza was great to see, and I went over to a cenote about 1 mile from the hotel called It Kil, across the street from Dolores Alba hotel. Awesome swimming! After that to Hacienda Uxmal and more ruins, also saw Coba (can climb it, hot, take little cycle taxis around fun), Ek Balem and other ruins, a bit much actually. Hacienda Uxmal was again lovely grounds, confusing room plan around a pool, peaceful. 2 nights in Merida at the Hyatt, my first time in that kind of hotel, nice but freezing pool and expensive laundry! Went to the Nomadas Hostel for a salsa lesson and the instructor (Laura)'s brother was playing in a band that night at a disco right off the main square, so I went with some of the people from the salsa lesson and had a blast dancing cumbia. Went to a folklore show at the university, also great, walked around. Don't take the taxis that come to the hotel, they are twice as expensive as the meter taxis a block away. Went to Valladolid and swam in cenote Zaci, 3 blocks from main square, really nice. Back to the Omni in Cancun, caught the tail end of spring break so noisy for an expensive hotel but I guess I should have called earlier to get someone to patrol the hall. German and Monica at the concierge desk were so nice and helpful. Changed to a cheap hotel (Kin Mayab) downtown for $38US, perfectly nice and great location next to bus station. Met some people at restaurant called La Parilla a few blocks away, went salsa dancing at Sabor Latino, met more dancers. Took the bus the next day to Playa del Carmen for a few days, stayed at Hacienda del Caribe, great location 1/2 block off main drag, met people walking around and went for salsa lesson at la Bodeguita del Medio and dancing after at Mojito Queen. PDC is a bit touristy so went to Cozumel, nice ferry ride, did Dolphin Discovery at Parque Chakanaab, riding the dolphin was awesome though expensive. Did a 1-tank dive with Manuel at Diver Ramon Zapata, one of the dive places in the park, he took me after to a local restaurant, nice guy if you want to dive. Good band on the ferry for merengue dancing too. Back in Cancun, stayed at the Riu Caribe, gorgeous view and nicest (ie only) stretch of beach left in Cancun, fun pool staff (Vilchy, Rene, Linda, George), good shows, nice room - Carlos at front desk hooked me up with a quiet room and took me to Mercado 28 downtown on my last day. Rene at front desk helped me with the transfer problem. Had a margarita and a delicious fish taco at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, conga line and free tequila. Went dancing at Azucar, best salsa club in Cancun. Met some super people on the tour, off and locals, and am very glad I went. Ordinarily the transfer thing wouldn't have bothered me because I wouldn't have even booked one. It was infuriating as I had the proof in my hand but as you say, these things happen. I'm sure if I hadn't been sick it would not have bothered me.
Anyway, I'm sure things will turn out all right. Hopefully this time next year it will be all done.
I guess I should have put all this in the Mexico forum... haha

LissaJ May 2nd, 2009 11:27 AM

Wow...that sounds like quite a trip..I went to Merida and Uxmal when I was in travel school and absolutely loved it! So much more cultural then Cancun. I have to say if I was your TA I'd probably have just refunded the $24 because you obviously spent a lot of money...but it is true that Sunquest and all the rest do take 6 to 8 weeks to review claims.

Anthony_111 Apr 18th, 2013 07:27 AM

We had very similar issue with Sunquest Vacation in Mexico Riviera Maya in March 2013. I wrote this letter to Sunquest.

On the day as checking out from the Grand Sirenis Hotel on March 12, 2013 which was at 12:00 noon, I, Anatoli Semenov, my wife and my 10 years old daughter were sitting in the lobby waiting for our transfer bus to the Cancun airport. The departure time has been confirmed with our Sunquest representative Paul on March 10. He said that the shuttle bus will be arriving to the Hotel at 15:40 on March 12. (I have seen that Paul made a note of this, he wrote 15:40 on the paper with my name and room number 1409. This has been documented by Paul. I am working in the News Broadcasting field for more than 16 years and I have a good habit always to confirm and double check the information!)
As I have mentioned I with my family was sitting in the Hotel lobby from 12:00 noon waiting for the shuttle bus. At about 15:25 all the buses started to arrive to the main lobby to pick up passengers. At about 15:30 a white minivan arrived with the “Sunquest” sign on the dashboard and I approached the driver and asked if he is going to take us to Airport. The driver checked his list for our names and responded negatively; he said that our names are not in the list and he had to pick up 8 other passengers, his minivan is full. Then I asked him to call to Sunquest to make an inquiry about our shuttle bus which should arrive at 15:40. The driver called to Sunquest and answered: “They are checking. Don’t worry” and then he left.

By the time 16:05 our bus still has not arrived. I have approached the Hotel Reception desk and asked the manager to call to Sunquest office to clarify. The manager then handed the phone to me. The lady on the phone (she confirmed that she is from Sunquest and her name is Kathrin) said: - “Oh, sorry. Your bus came at 14:25”. (Remember that we were sitting in the lobby from 12:00 and on ), Kathrin suggested me paying for a taxi to the Airport. I rejected this and explained her that I don`t have any money on my Credit card. Needless to say I have found this proposition totally unacceptable and felt disregarded for myself and my family. Then finally she stated that the Sunquest will order a taxi and the Sunquest representative will meet the taxi driver at the airport and will pay for the ride. I have asked her to confirm this information twice and she did. Then I handed the phone back to the Hotel manager (the manager`s name is Marco). Kathrin also confirmed this info to Marco and asked him to order a taxi and to write down the taxi’s licence plate which was: 77-37 TPA. Cab number is # 1475 so the Sunquest representative could pay the driver at the airport.
When we arrived to the Airport, we have discovered that there was no representative from Sunquest and the driver refused to give us our luggage, he kept our luggage locked in his trunk as we were hostages and at this point the tensions went high. The situation became seriously threatening. The driver unsuccessfully was looking for the Sunquest representative all over the airport for as few hours and I had to follow him all this time. We even drove to Terminal 3 hoping to find the representative there but did not find anybody from Sunquest. My daughter started to cry at the airport (she is premature born and very emotional and sensitive) and my wife started to panic as the registration for the flight was ending. I have tried several times to convince the taxi driver to release our luggage but the driver refused. He said that Sunquest first must pay him at the airport as Kathrin has confirmed by the phone and only then he will give our luggage.
The Sunquest is responsible for the situation as we became hostages of the taxi driver and he was forced to perform an illegal actions against me and my family. This unlawful situation went on for several hours until I had to involve the local policeman and he persuaded the driver to open the trunk and to release our luggage. Morever we were not able to shop at the Airport’s duty free as we plan that every year!

Our week of family Vacation at Riviera Maya Grand Sirenis has been spoiled by unprofessional and bad work of Sunquest Vacation. We have had nervous disorder that adversely affected our family atmosphere. Moreover this situation put us in degradation of human dignity and rights.

I sent this letter to Sunquest as registered mail and never got a responce. will take this to court.

Sunquest is sucks. I will never deal with this idiots and not suggesting you. Be aware!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:13 AM.