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-   -   Avoid Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) like the Plague (https://www.fodors.com/community/travel-tips-and-trip-ideas/avoid-overseas-adventure-travel-oat-like-the-plague-1686225/)

dcd Aug 7th, 2020 05:54 PM

Avoid Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) like the Plague
 
WARNING: DO NOT USE OVERSEAS ADVENTURE TRAVEL AKA OAT!

OAT is not to be trusted. They have lied to me. Repeatedly. Plus they are not complying with their own "Passenger Agreement"/Terms and Conditions (which they make you agree to in order to confirm a reservation) in honoring my request for a trip refund. And finally, they have very, very poor customer service.


I discovered this the hard way. And I hope to save others the same aggravation and issues I am now experiencing. And based on reviews on tripadvisor and other sites, I am not alone.....

This is the first time I have ever complained about a travel company, having previously used OAT's small group competitors Odysseys Unlimited and Road Scholar with great success. This was to be our first trip with OAT, but we will never book with them again. Once burned is once learned.

The rest of the story:

In November of 2019, I booked an October 2020 trip to Sicily with OAT for my wife and I, and we prepaid the trip in full, ~$11,000 (huge mistake knowing what I know now, notwithstanding the 5% discount).


In May 2020, with the COVID pandemic showing no signs of letting up, I called OAT to see what my options were if I cancelled. The agent told me refunds were not available and I would have to accept a voucher and book another trip in 2021 or 2022. But I read her their own Terms and Conditions which clearly provide a refund procedure for any cancelation, and says the refund will be processed within 30 days of their receipt of a cancelation by phone, online or certified letter. (NOTE: their Terms and Conditions have been very recently modified to say refunds in most cases will be processed within 90 days; which is just awful). She suggested I email one of the owners of the company, Harriet Lewis, to request a refund, saying she did not have authority to issue one.

So the OAT agent lied and tried to mislead me when she said refunds were not available as a matter of right, when clearly they are under their Terms and Conditions. I wonder how many of their clients were duped into accepting a voucher with this lie.

In May 2020 I sent an email, and a copy of it by certified mail return receipt requested, to Harriet Lewis, canceling the reservation and requesting a refund, less their $300 per person "administrative fee" (what a ripoff).

When 30 days passed without seeing hide nor hair of the refund, I called OAT and was told I could only cancel a reservation by phone, not by letter. Another lie. Again I read the agent their own Terms and Conditions all while holding the return receipt card documenting the day they received the certified letter in their Boston office (June 1). The agent apologized and said not to worry because the refund had been approved and he "100% guaranteed" I would have it within 30 days (which would be more than 60 days from when I had originally requested it).

Turned out his "guarantee" was simply another lie. Not knowing that, I patiently waited his 30 days, but no refund.

So I called OAT on his 30th day (yesterday) and spoke with a supervisor who said she could not tell me when the refund would be issued, but hopefully in a couple of weeks.... She could not even assure me I would receive the refund. Plus she said there was no one else I could talk to about the refund, as it is all in the hands of their Finance Department and those 4 individuals do not take calls. Ridiculous.

Upshot, I have been lied to, misled and deceived by a company that touts itself as having great customer service. Another lie. BTW I never received the courtesy of a reply from Ms Lewis, or anyone else at OAT, to my May 2020 email/certified letter specifically asking for confirmation they had received that email canceling the trip and requesting the refund. In fact, I have never heard a word from OAT about my refund. I am the one who has to make all the contacts.

Folks there are much better options when it comes to selecting a small group travel company.

Thanks to some helpful posters on TripAdvisor telling a similar story, I have submitted a consumer complaint to the Massachusetts Attorney General seeking their assistance, and have also posted my troubles on the Boston BBB, where there are many similar horror stories. Some folks have received their refunds after doing that, which is great but we shouldn't have to be doing this. Shame on you, OAT.

thursdaysd Aug 8th, 2020 05:05 AM

I took one trip with OAT back in 1998, and swore that I would never use them again. Not only were there multiple problems with the trip itself, it turned out that business class seats on the return flight, for which customers had paid, had been bought as standby and we didn't know whether we would get them until shortly before take off.

WRT your current problem, there are a number of people over on cruisecritic.com reporting similar problems with companies like Princess. Did you pay by credit card? If so, you could try the charge back route.

janisj Aug 8th, 2020 10:12 AM

There have been many threads over the years on Fodors warning against OAT for various problems big and small. As thursdaysad suggests, a credit card charge back may be your best option.

sassy27 Aug 8th, 2020 11:15 AM

dcd this is awful to read. I think contacting the BBB is probably your best bet as companies don’t like showing up here. If that doesn’t work and if you paid by credit card, definitely dispute it. You are very versed with rules/terms/agreements that I have not doubt you are correct.

I understand things are hard but they are hard for everyone. Companies don’t win repeat business this way so if they go under, it’s by their own doing and you are out the money. Everyone loses yet they don’t realize that.

HappyTrvlr Aug 9th, 2020 04:48 AM

Friends took over 20 trips with them, and then OAT pulled a fast one on them just like this and they were done traveling with OAT.
One time these friends had encouraged us to join them on an OAT trip. I called OAT with a few questions and was treated so rudely that I would never consider traveling with them.

mlgb Aug 9th, 2020 01:13 PM

Do they have a Facebook page that allows posts? When I had an issue with Road Scholar, posting on FB prompted them to call me back.

dcd Aug 9th, 2020 02:28 PM

Thanks, all. I have heard many fellow travelers sing the praises of OAT, which is why I had no reservation in making the reservation. I suspect OAT is running short of cash to pay these refunds, but who knows.

Last Friday, I submitted an online consumer complaint with both the Missouri Attorney General and the Boston BBB.

OAT's FB page does not allow posts. Wonder why....

Unfortunately, only the $700 deposit for the trip could be put on credit card if we wanted to take advantage of their 5% cash discount. So the bulk was paid via direct wire transfer.

Fortunately, our trip insurance, which I thought would go unused, does not exclude pandemics and does cover bankruptcies.

I suspect/hope we'll get our money back eventually.

thursdaysd Aug 9th, 2020 03:04 PM

Do they have a Twitter account? You might try Christopher Elliott as well.


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