The most expensive breakfast ever

At the Players Cafe in Liberia, Costa Rica, Marc Anderson had to fork over a bundle when he bought breakfast at the airport. His order consisted of four coffees, two orange juices, one bottled water, one bagel, two English muffin sandwiches, and one Denver omelette.

The cost? $92.84.
Continue reading…

Do I deserve a refund for this LivingSocial deal?

Eduardo Rivera/Shutterstock
Eduardo Rivera/Shutterstock
Teri Rustmann’s Living Social voucher for a Caribbean vacation isn’t worth the money it’s printed on — or so he thinks. Why won’t the company refund it?

Question: I’m writing to you in the hope that you can help resolve a dispute I am having with Living Social. I don’t know where else to turn.

I purchased two Living Social vouchers for a Costa Rica trip, for $1,799 each. According to the advertisement, the voucher represented a 40 percent savings over the regular price of the trip. I purchased the vouchers specifically and solely because they represented a significant savings, as stated in the voucher.
Continue reading…

When airlines misread passport rules, who pays?

Question: My husband and I were scheduled to take a Spirit Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to San Jose, Costa Rica. The afternoon before my flight, my dog chewed a corner off the front page of my husband’s passport and we were concerned about having proper documentation.

We arrived at the airport almost three hours early in order to have enough time to ask a ticket agent. He seemed seasoned and professional, and he assured us that there would be no problem with the passport, as the number could still be manually inputted.
Continue reading…

Is this enough compensation? A voucher for a “completely forgettable” honeymoon

We’ve had plenty of “honeymoon from hell” stories on this site, and they never get old. So let’s hear from Ben Barnhart, who just returned from his post-nuptial vacation at the Riu Guanacaste in Costa Rica.

Just to set your expectations, the Riu describes itself as a “five star” property with “a superb range of leisure possibilities, the hotel offers five modern, fully-equipped conference rooms, and fine restaurants.”

It look like a nice place for a honeymoon. That’s exactly what Barnhart thought when he booked it through his travel agent and Funjet Vacations.

It wasn’t.
Continue reading…

Help, my honeymoon in Costa Rica went south

Question: My wife and I recently booked a honeymoon in Costa Rica through Apple Vacations. On the morning we were supposed to leave, our flights on Delta Air Lines were canceled, and they didn’t have any other flights until two days later.

I called Apple and they simply told me to call the airline. They refused to help. Delta’s customer service was only a little more helpful. They ended up getting us to Costa Rica a day later on a different airline.

Because of this we missed one day at an all-inclusive resort and decided to stay an extra day. I again called Apple and asked them to refund our missed day and wanted to book an extra day on the end of our honeymoon. They would not refund any money for the missed day and charged us for the extra day.

I sent a letter to Apple’s customer service like they suggested I do. I have not gotten any response from them after two letters. Any advice on this issue? — Loyd Jobe, Evansville, Ind.

Answer: It sounds as if Apple could have done more to save your honeymoon. But let’s take a closer look at the facts.

Delta canceled your flight, not Apple. So in a sense, Apple was right: You would have to talk with the airline about rescheduling your flight. At the same time, Apple advertises a “beginning-to-end” vacation experience, which includes employees greeting you at your departure airport and meeting you when you arrive.
Continue reading…

Yellow fever, red light: paperwork problem sinks Costa Rica vacation

Whose responsibility is your travel-related paperwork, like visas and vaccinations? If you said “mine” — you’re right.

If you hesitated before saying “mine” then meet Cathy Pace, whose sad story about a Costa Rica vacation will certainly make you double check your paperwork before you leave for the airport.

In January, we went on a trip to Peru with the intent to continue on to Costa Rica. When we arrived at the airport in Lima we were informed by our airline, Taca, that there was an agreement between the government of Peru and Costa Rica that no one could enter Costa Rica from Peru without a yellow fever vaccination.

We had no idea, and our travel agent had researched all restrictions beforehand, and there were no published restrictions. We were not allowed to go to Costa Rica and upon our return we confirmed that not even the official Costa Rican Embassy Web site had this information listed. We had no way of knowing!

Pace wanted a refund on her $760 deposit at the Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge.

The Lodge refuses to refund our deposit. While we understand the operating procedures of hotels, this was not information that was published and we had no way of knowing. Do you think we are entitled to our deposit?

Unfortunately, no.

The yellow fever vaccination requirements are listed on the Centers for Disease Control site. They are also prominently displayed on the Costa Rican embassy’s Web site. Pace’s travel agent should have known about that.

But more importantly, you should never rely on anything other than an official government source — not an airline, not a cruise line, not a travel agency — when obtaining proper travel documents.

Securing the proper paperwork is your responsibility, and yours alone.