In Nov 2010, I purchased 2 cruise packages ($99 each) at my work place where a booth was set up by a local company to sell "Employee Appreciation" discount packages. I contacted PTS Travel to book the cruise as directed on the package card and was asked to pay the amounts in full - the cruise I booked was 2 state board rooms for a 7-night cruise to Mexico/Rivera. In December, I had to cancel the cruise since I never received the confirmation of the cruise in time, and I contacted PTS Travel via phone and emails, and finally spoke to the travel agent Cari Sepulveda and asked about the process of cancelling and related fees if any. I was told that since my cruise date was 5/1/11-5/7/11, and I was cancelling early enough (4 months in advance to the travel date), there is no penalty from Carnival Cruise, however, there is a cancellation fee of $35 per person from PTS Travel. I accepted the cancellation fee and confirmed with Cari to proceed with the cancellation. I was told that it will take up to 3 months and after 2 billing cycles for the refund to show up on my credit card.
During the three months after I cancelled my trip, I checked back with PTS Travel (Cari the travel agent) via phone and emails to check my refund status, but never received any feedback. Finally, I called Carnival Cruise since I wasn't even sure if my cruise was cancelled, and on a timely manner to avoid being charged a penalty for late cancellation. However, Carnival Cruise would not even disclose if my cruise was cancelled or not after I explained to the representative what happened, what I was told was that Prestige Travel has a contract with Carnival Cruise to sell their cruise products, and all transactions have to go through Prestige Travel - to cancel, to check booking status - everything has to go through the agency. When I responded that I have tried numerous times to follow up with my cancellation and refund, yet I never get to talk to anyone, all I get is a voice mail box, and never received any feed back, the representative from Carnival told me, "all I can do is to call Prestige Travel for you and tell them to get back to you", the representative put me on hold and call Prestige Travel, and guess what, no she can't get through either, so she told me she'll leave a message for me, and ask Prestige Travel to call me back. She would not tell me though if my cruise has indeed been cancelled, however, she told me there is no cancellation penalty as long as the cancellation is made at least 75 days in advance to the travel date.
Yesterday I received a voice message from Cari at Prestige Travel, her message was 1. there is some penalties from Carnival, 2. she doesn't know how much that would be, and 3. she'll see what she can do, but "the call volume is very high", so give at least a week for her to look this up. I received my credit card statement today, after three months, of the total amount of $1,701.28 (2 rooms, $850.64 each), I received two credits of $350.64 each (total: $701.28) on my credit card. That's $1,000 in cancellation fee!
Note that I booked the travel using the Smart Circle travel package card that I purchased at the promotion booth at my work place. It's $99 for a cruise vacation for two adults, and all I needed to pay is a $125 per person processing fee and applicable taxes. The cost of the cruise is $0 since it is covered by the price of the travel package card. How can the taxes not be refunded to me? And the processing fee of $125 per person was supposed to be refunded minus a $35 per person cancellation fee, that still leaves a $90 per person credit toward my purchase.
The breakdown of my invoice (in writing via email from Cari at PTS Travel) was $442.64 in taxes ($0 in cruise fare), $258 in processing fee, and $150 in seasonal surcharge, totaling $850.64 per state board room. Just the taxes alone, at $442.64 per room, I should have received $885.28 for 2 rooms cancelled, and $300 seasonal charge, plus $446 ($258-$35 = $223 per room x 2 rooms). However, now I only get $701.28 back, out of the total of $1,701.28, how is that reasonable?
Initially, the business operation was odd and suspicious since I have never ever been able to talk to a real person on the phone, and voice messages and emails rarely got answered on a timely manner. Since then, it was very difficult to get any customer service on the order once it's placed - I was told that after my payment, I'll get a confirmation in the mail and I'll be able to sign in and check my status on carnival.com, but I never get any confirmation package in the mail (waited a month), then it has become a complete nightmare to get my money back after my cancellation.
I wonder why I am not surprised when I look this company up on Ripoff Report, and found it here. I wish I had discovered this website earlier and wouldn't need to deal with this kind of issues. It is a shame that there are companies like this that relies on scamming and overcharging consumers to profit themselves. Even more disturbing to me is that, supposedly big-name companies like Carnival Cruise would work with them and let them sell their cruise products, yet would not even attempt to resolve the issue for their customers. Carnival cruise should either choose not to work with such infamous companies, or if they do, not shy away from taking responsibilities to resolve issues for their customers. After all, it was Carnival Cruise's name that we go for, even though we purchased your cruise product through Prestige Travel!