MEXICO

Should I visit Mexico?

I’m really excited to introduce a our newest columnist, Stuart Gustafson. His weekly feature, “Should I Cross That Line?” dovetails with his area of expertise: international travel. Gustafson spent his career in corporate sales at HP and today is an acclaimed novelist and sought-after public speaker. I can’t wait to see where he takes us next .

It’s the dead of winter. I bet you’re tired of the weather by now, and the prospect of six more weeks of cold. I know I am.

So where’s the easiest place to find a little warmth?
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I want a full refund for this Mexico vacation

Studioartz/Shutterstock
Studioartz/Shutterstock
Marnie Bute didn’t enjoy the Mexican getaway she booked through Sun Country Vacations. Actually, that may be an understatement. She hated it and she wants every penny refunded.

Normally, when someone asks for a full refund, it triggers a predictable amount of eye-rolling here in the office. It couldn’t have been that bad, we say to ourselves.

Then we read her story.

It begins with a frantic note to Sun Country on the day of Bute’s arrival at the Royal Decameron Los Cabos resort in San Jose Del Cabo.
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Help, my Mexican vacation rental pocketed my deposit!

Blue Orange/ShutterstockNancie Thomas had no reason to believe the owner of her vacation rental in Akumal, Mexico, would keep her $1,000 deposit. Her friends had rented the same house on three separate occasions, “and had a great experience each time,” she says.

Alas, the fourth time wasn’t a charm for Thomas.

Her first warning? The method of payment.

“We were surprised when the owner asked for a deposit check rather than credit card,” she recalls. “But we confirmed with our friends that they had always made the deposit by check.”

(Let me stop right here and say it: Always, always insist on paying by credit card. If Thomas had done that, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.)
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Who’s to blame for this timeshare disaster?

Alysta/Shutterstock
Alysta/Shutterstock
Consumer advocate William Leeper recently accepted a “Mission Impossible” case involving a questionable timeshare purchase in Mexico. What’s that? We had you at “timeshare”? But it gets worse. Much worse. I’ll let him explain.

Today’s timeshare story comes from reader Mark Golder and the timeshare he bought — or thought he bought — from Grand Solmar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I’ll let him pick up the story.
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Do I deserve a refund after my destination turned dangerous?

Deep blue/Shutterstock
Deep blue/Shutterstock
Diane Austin’s problem isn’t that unusual, which is why I’ve decided to write something about it. In April, she booked a $730 roundtrip ticket in April through Orbitz on American Airlines to fly to Puerto Vallarta.

The purpose of her visit? To volunteer in a school in Tepic, Mexico, for two weeks. In order to cover her fare, Austin’s 80-year-old father used money from her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother’s bank account. After all, it was for a good cause.

But the trip wasn’t meant to be. When her partner arrived in Tepic a few days ahead of her, she says the area turned suddenly unsafe.
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