Cancun great, but DON'T BOOK WITH SUNQUEST!

Old Apr 29th, 2009, 01:16 PM
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Cancun great, but DON'T BOOK WITH SUNQUEST!

A sincere warning: 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 and had to get away. 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, 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 as far as the receptionist knew, the cheque had not been done and would not be until she was back. 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.
liltravlr is offline  
Old Apr 30th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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What a horrible experience for you, even more so with all you had to deal with when you got back to Canada. I know it's a hassle, but I hope you are able to keep following up with them. They shouldn't just be giving you a cheque for the price of the taxi, you should be getting some sort of compensation for the aggravation.

Best of luck with your surgery - I'll be sending good thoughts your way!
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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I'm sorry your vacation ended so badly, but there's always a point when bad things happen at which I realize I'm going to get no satisfaction on the ground, and I resolve to follow up when I get home. For me, that point would have come when the van driver told me I wasn't on the list and he couldn't take me. At that point, I'd have gone back to the hotel, had them call me a taxi, gone to the airport, paid the taxi and driver, and been done with it for then. Arguing, ranting, calling, threatening to call the police, threatening to skip out on the taxi fare ... all that only dealyed you and made for an exhausting end to your vacation.

Telling everyone you know, posting here multiple times (I see you posted in the cruise forum, but this was not a cruise you were on), telling newspapers, radio and TV stations ... none of that acomplishes much either. Just deal with Sunquest over the issue of the transfer that mever materialized. Your seat on the plane, when you were served dinner, and, I have to say, your health problems have nothing to do with your dispute with them. Stick to the facts of the dispute in your dealings with them.

But on the matter of your health, I wish you all the best.
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Old May 1st, 2009, 10:56 PM
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Now that time has passed, of course it doesn't seem like such a big deal, but it was an upsetting end to what was otherwise a lovely trip.
If you want to read about my actual trip, I put it in the "Caribbean" forum, oops. I talk about the sights, hotels, restaurants and a bit of stuff on Cancun, Chichen Itza, Merida, Valladolid, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen.
Thanks for the good wishes. I'll probably be surfing the next few months during recovery, and reading about traveling...
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 07:43 AM
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I've read your post a couple of places now. I don't mean to sound harsh, but it's never a good idea to be out-of-the-country and not have any cash on your person. That can put you in a horrible situation in many circumstances.

To make your complaint effective you need to deal with Sunquest. To make your complaint more effective to people reading you need to stick to facts (your health concerns had nothing to do with this situation). I don't mean to sound harsh, but I read a lot of travel websites, and the way you posted just sounds like such a "rant" I barely skimmed over it.

I do wish you well, and hope you will stay & really join Fodor's forum community and participate sharing travel advice and discussion while you've got some extra time at home.
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 08:08 AM
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I agree about not having any cash - it is a risky situation to be in. Because our Canadian dollar isn't always the best to carry, we usually take $100 USD with us when we go out of the country. Then we rely on ATMs to get local currency while we there, and often we come back with the same $100 USD.

I agree with Suze that the health concerns have nothing to do with the situation, but it's an especially bad situation when you're dealing with so much else in your life. People often book AI trips and packages because they don't want to have to deal with potentially bad situations.

I do hope that Liltravlr stays with Fodors. I'm not crazy about the new format, but it's still something I check at least once daily!
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Old May 2nd, 2009, 02:44 PM
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Don't get any of us wrong: What happened should not have happened and Sunquest is at fault. I think most of us are saying that there was a better way to deal with it at the time.

People have kind of moved away from using travel agents these days, but here's where a travel agent can make things right for you. They know how. They can get on the phone with Sunquest and say, "I booked a client with you guys and her transfer never showed up. What can we do about it to make it right for her?" It wouldn't have helped you at the time, but after it's all over, you have an ally who can tke care of things for you.

Do focus on the good things that happened during your trip. A speedy recovery to you.
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Old May 3rd, 2009, 11:01 AM
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Thank you for your comments. Yup, it was a rant. Not to beat a dead horse, but I must say that the seat placement in the airline was a consequence of the late check in (which was Sunquest's fault because when I travel on my own I am always at the airport 3 hrs before the flight). Ie, it's a sine qua non - if I hadn't counted on the transfer I would have already been at the airport and would have had a better seat selection.
I usually do reserve some money, but on the advice of my brother I put it in my other bag, which I had forgotten but ended up using - I recalled it when the American couple offered me the money. It was just coincidence after coincidence (ie trying to check with the local rep x2, trying to check with Sunquest x2, then leaving it, thinking it was ok, turning down a free ride, being in the van then kicked out, not being able to get the transfer agency on the phone, then the Sunquest airport rep not helping) that made me mad, because I really had tried to avoid just that situation. I did get a cold and now my 5-year old has thrown up, so you know what I'm afraid of now!?!
I do have a travel agent that I usually use, who is excellent. I have used her for 10 years but because I moved, and now she's on the other end of town, and it was last minute and a "package" sort of trip rather than "adventure", which I usually book with her, I used the agency down the street. I am sure she would have taken care of it for me.
I always appreciate travel info and tips, and had "forumed" wih Jeff-CostaRica about CR for the trip I had planned. By next winter I am hoping to do some kind of cruise in the Caribbean. Time for a new topic...
thx
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