When Allegiant’s final word isn’t so final

Allegiant Air is one of the more fee-happy airlines flying in America. So when Dagny McDonald contacted me about a medical emergency, a canceled flight and a missing refund, I didn’t have much hope for her case.

But that didn’t stop me.

Read more “When Allegiant’s final word isn’t so final”

Travel insurance policy void without a ring — is that right?

When Scott Mitchell booked an airline ticket to fly from Austin to New York to see his girlfriend, he decided to play it safe. He bought the optional policy offered through Allianz Travel Insurance.

He played — and he lost.

Read more “Travel insurance policy void without a ring — is that right?”

What should I do about “mandatory” car rental insurance in Panama?

After Mary Sue Conner is forced to pay an extra $79 for insurance on her Avis car in Panama City, she asks the company for a refund. It refuses. Now what?
Read more “What should I do about “mandatory” car rental insurance in Panama?”

We never asked for travel insurance — can we get our money back?

Sarah Stevens-Rayburn and her husband find a mysterious charge for travel insurance on their Amtrak Vacations bill. They never asked for insurance. Can they get a refund?
Read more “We never asked for travel insurance — can we get our money back?”

Help! My travel insurance didn’t work like I thought it would

One of the most common answers to a travel problem is: You should have bought insurance. I’ve said it and chances are, you have too.

And it’s true — except when it isn’t.

Consider what happened to Janice Zatarain, who bought a travel insurance policy through Travelex to cover her family trip to Europe. She, her husband and her son would be flying from San Francisco to London and Paris.
Read more “Help! My travel insurance didn’t work like I thought it would”

NCL takes $1,493 from a sick customer and leaves him with almost nothing — is that right?

Rob Rumohr was looking forward to his Western Caribbean cruise on the Norwegian Epic, with ports of call in Jamaica, the Caymans and Mexico.

“We had been planning a special vacation for several months,” he says. He was bringing his mother, who had been recently widowed, on the cruise.

“I needed to plan something for her to look forward to since I knew it was going to be especially difficult for her,” he says.
Read more “NCL takes $1,493 from a sick customer and leaves him with almost nothing — is that right?”

Is car rental insurance a rip-off?

If you’ve rented a car, you probably know the look. It’s the one Bonnie Jones got when she picked up the keys to her rental car in Las Vegas recently.
Read more “Is car rental insurance a rip-off?”

Dad’s sick – why won’t Allianz cover Mom’s claim?

Chris James’ mother cancels her vacation after his father falls ill. Why won’t Allianz cover her insurance claim?
Read more “Dad’s sick – why won’t Allianz cover Mom’s claim?”

“It is so unjust to poison someone and get off scot-free”

Lynn Friedman’s daughter, Emma, became violently ill during her family vacation to Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun. When she returned to the States, she was hospitalized for five days. The diagnosis: acute food poisoning.

“Based on the timing and the test results, the doctors are convinced that she was poisoned at the resort,” says Friedman.

She wants a refund for her vacation from either her travel agent, tour operator or the resort. But so far, her efforts have come up short.

“No one will claim responsibility,” she says.

Friedman wants me to help. But as I review the details of her case, I’m not sure who to ask for relief — or even where to start. And that’s where you come in, dear readers. Please tell me what to do with this one.

The visit, which happened in April, was supposed to be a relaxing family vacation. But shortly after their arrival, Emma started to feel sick.

“We knew Emma was ill on the trip,” explains Friedman. “But we did not understand the cause.”

Emma had her own room, and wanted to give her family space to enjoy their much-needed vacation. Friedman says, in retrospect, her daughter was probably more ill than they suspected.

“She simply carried on and told us she didn’t feel like eating. Only on the plane home was it clear that she was very ill. I took her to the doctor our first day back home,” she says.

The doctors back in the States said she had Salmonella. That’s no tummy ache — more than 400 people die of Salmonella every year.

Friedman says she’s certain the resort is to blame, because the family only ate at the hotel.

She adds,

For the last six weeks, I have devoted hours of my time and much emotional energy emailing and faxing two managers at Secrets Maroma, a supervisor at Apple Vacations, and two individuals (the travel agent and the owner of the company) at Travel House of Barrington.

I have sent medical records (including the test results and diagnosis, dates of hospitalization, etc.) and impassioned letters.

My daughter has been suffering terribly, we have spent a huge amount of time and a great deal of money because of someone else’s inappropriate behavior, and we cannot seem to receive the compensation we believe we deserve.

It is so unjust to poison someone and get off scot-free.

Friedman’s demand is simple: She wants her $5,753 back, which represents the entire amount she spent on her all-inclusive vacation package.

She believes the hotel is trying to throw her case out on a technicality.

In my distress, I accidentally told the hotel that Emma was poisoned at our first meal at the resort; I later corrected that error and told them that she was poisoned at the hotel on our first full day there. They used that understandable error as the excuse to throw out our LEGITIMATE case.

So far, her travel agency has asked her to fill out a medical claim form, but Friedman says she already has medical insurance. She just wants her money back.

I get a fair number of tainted food cases, and the problem is conclusively proving the poisoning happened at a restaurant, hotel or on a cruise ship. In defense of the hotel, the incubation period for Salmonella is 24 to 48 hours, so Emma might have been infected from another source.

I’m not sure if Friedman’s travel agent or tour operator are responsible for this vacation gone wrong in any way, other than that they might have recommended the hotel and helped her make the reservation.

Also, refunding the entire vacation seems like a tall order. After all, the family flew to their destination, enjoyed the accommodations and at least some of the food at the resort.

Should Maroma Beach refund everything, or just part of the vacation? What responsibility, if any, should the agency and tour operator bear?

Is Friedman owed anything for the Salmonella episode, or should she just chalk this up to an expensive, and exceedingly painful, lesson learned about watching what you eat when you’re traveling abroad?

I don’t know. This is one of the more difficult cases to cross my desk in recent memory.

Should I mediate Lynn Friedman's case with Maroma Beach?

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