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I wanted to travel to your island, though just coming from Trinidad, I was excited. I made plans and booked since May to travel to Buccament Bay Resort within the period 29 August – 2 September with my family.
An unfortunate event happened in which I had to undergo surgery , and as a result, I was deemed incapable of flying. I contacted the resort’s parent company in the UK (Harlequin Hotels and Resorts) with whom I made the booking, firstly on the hospital bed (Aug 9)and on occasions after (Aug 22-24), providing the necessary documents.
I was told I couldn’t cancel, and when asked if I would have been able to defer the dates I was told yes, as a goodwill gesture after which I proceeded to cancel with LIAT.
However I didn’t realize that I had 7 days to provide the new dates, but I was recuperating at that point and when I did ask about some specific dates 12 days after(Sep 6), I was told that my travel has been forfeited due to a ‘no show’. I couldn’t have shown, could I?
Well, just the thought of losing my money had me enraged. I called them, my husband spoke to them as well, they said we were being abusive when all we were asking was to speak to the coordinator’s supervisor, in which we were being blocked. After contacting customer relations, we were told that we didn’t show so there’s nothing they can do (again, how could I have?).
I proceed to claim with my travel insurance. I informed them I don’t have travel insurance and neither was I asked at the point of booking, so they pondered and came back with an offer in which they would forfeit 1 night of my travel for not showing (I couldn’t), and a charge of a supplemental fee of US$50 per night for the remaining nights (reason unknown).
Finding this unfair I contacted St Vincent ministry of tourism who asked me to forward all my emails, in which I did, and in turn, their only role seems to be just to forwarding the emails to a manager in Buccament in St Vincent. I was never contacted by that manager, and numerous calls made to her by myself was just a waste of my money because I never got her.
I eventually got a hold of the reservation coordinator who showed concern when I spoke, so I emailed her with evidence of what’s going on. I guess she contacted the parent company who then sent me an email advising that I am not to contact the resort directly ever again, and if I can’t pay the supplemental charge of USD 150 (which covers 3 night, and for which I’m being penalised twice, as they have already forfeited a night) by Sep 27, my travel would be permanently cancelled.
I never wanted to lose my hard earned money, but Harlequin’s ‘mafia style’ communication method has now made me uncomfortable and fearful of prejudice. Though hurting right now, due to the fact that I just lost TT $10,000 while still trying to cover my hospital bills, it’s sad and quite unfortunate to know this is the way we expect to strengthen Caricom relations.