Some cases are resolved quickly. Some aren’t.
Sheila Drezner Freedman’s problem with Tauck dates back to February 2010, and although the high-end tour operator thinks it is closed, she’s still fighting.
Back in February of that year, she paid her Virtuoso travel agent a $600 deposit on a European riverboat cruise. She made a final payment of $9,606 through her credit card in July.
“I opted out of travel insurance, since I considered myself indestructible, having traveled for over forty years and never had a problem and foolishly, never expected one now,” she says.
“At the beginning of June, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and after surgery, was told I would now face six weeks of radiation,” she says. “No problem — it left me with an extra week to recoup and still be able to go on that planned vacation. However, six days into the 59 day, 50 percent penalty period, I was given the dreaded news that I would need three months of chemotherapy before the radiation treatment.”
In other words, she’d miss the riverboat cruise she’d already paid for.
Her agent tried to negotiate a credit, which could be used for a riverboat cruise in 2011. Tauck refused. So Freedman called Tauck herself.
Unfortunately, I was connected to a manager who lacked any feeling.
I told her I was planning to put the final payment shown on this month’s Visa statement in dispute. At that point in our conversation, she said, that if I do that, she would not allow me to ever travel with Tauck again.
Not what I would call good customer service and if that threat were possible, she would also hurt my travel agent. Her rudeness was unnecessary.
Tauck has a reputation as one of the most customer-focused tour operators in America, so it was difficult to imagine such a conversation taking place.
I contacted Tauck on Freedman’s behalf twice in 2010. She sent several additional letters to the company, and finally, a few weeks ago, received the company’s “final” answer: an apology and a $500 voucher toward a future trip.
Tsk, tsk. They should be ashamed to treat a once-loyal customer in such a cheap way.
It will be difficult for me and my travel companion to ever book another vacation with them.
Although we’re only two people, it shouldn’t matter. A reputable business should care about every customer and do their best to keep them satisfied.
Tauck’s cancellation terms are clearly disclosed on its site.
I can’t argue with them. Tauck recommends travel insurance and spells out its cancellation policy in black and white.
Would travel insurance have covered Freedman? I’m not entirely sure. A vigilant claims adjuster might determine that her breast cancer was a pre-existing condition (I’ve seen it before).
My real problem is the interaction between Freedman and the manager by phone. I can’t imagine anyone threatening a customer like that. Unfortunately, Tauck never addressed that issue, at least not with me.