In the beginning, back in August of 2007, I received a credit voucher for $1,600.00 from Ramada Plaza Resorts Orlando/Ft. Lauderdale Vacations that promised me a VACATION OF MY DREAMS. I called the 800 number (1-800-570-9973) within the 72 hours as indicated. I was advised of all details regarding the SPECTACULAR FLORIDA/TROIPICAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE VACATION PACKAGE. I wanted to discuss this trip with my husband first and was told that time was allotted for this. After speaking with my husband about this vacation package, I then called the 800 number again. I spoke to Jack Billard.
I advised Jack that the cruise sounds nice; however I really want to take my kids to Disney World, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Sea world. My children want to see the theme parks and water parks that they see on the television commercials. I really dont think my teenage son is interested in going on this trip. Jack stated that I could have all that is offered in the voucher and in addition to this offer I would receive star passes/premium passes for each of the amusements. He went on to explain these passes as no waiting in line passes and how this is such a special benefit because I could take the kids for just an additional $99 per child since they are just ages 4 and 9 and that kids 13 and up would be only an additional $198 per child.
He then went on to explain the vacation package as 8 days and 7 nights Ft Lauderdale Orlando w/cruise to Nassau Bahamas. He even offered me a choice of the Imperial Majesty or Carnival Cruise Lines. I chose the Carnival Cruise Line and he stated that at this time he would not be able to confirm which ship of the Carnival Cruise Line I would be on but that it would come in the mail once everything was completed. He continued explaining the package as 3 Nights of Gold Key Award winning accommodations in sun-Kissed South Florida, Round trip cruise aboard one of the Carnival Cruise Lines to Nassau Bahamas, Two nights of Gold Key Award winning accommodations in Orlando, Florida and 7 days free transportation with unlimited mileage provided by Alamo Rent-A-Car as a convenience during my vacation.
I refused the offer because I really did not have the money for this vacation. Jack went on to advise me that I could just give him a deposit of $698 and pay the rest over time or when I had the money to go on the trip, however this offer will be extended until 2/25/2010 to take the trips yet the last day for the remainder balance on the initial offer would be 8/19/2008. He understood money being a concern for this unexpected offer yet he explained that all amenities, port charges, and taxes are paid for by Ramada. He stated that after paying for the trip I would only have to pay for the air fare because what makes this offer differ from all the rest is that Ramada pays for all amenities, gratuities, gas, tours and taxes on the cruise too. He stated that he also included free meal vouchers, dinner tours, free passes to Alligator Alley, Parks, and Aquariums in Ft Lauderdale. I would also get free meal vouchers in Orlando too. He even explained a payment plan that could be set up with customer service that had no prepayment penalty and no interest. He explained that I would receive 2 full bed double occupancy rooms at resorts and two adjoining state rooms on the cruise. One state room would have a full regular size bed and the other would have twin size regular beds. He sold me on that fact that this is truly an all expense paid vacation for far less than its retail value that also came with bonus romantic getaways and additional bonus trips.
He explained to me that I would need to get passports for everybody if I did not travel prior to 12/31/07 and provided me with instructions from Ft Lauderdale to Orlando. He stated that we would get maps with the itinerary too.
I was still skeptical about this offer that came in the mail and explained this to him; however I also stated that I do not think that Ramada would be conducting fraud. Jack Billard stated that his call back number was 954-455-3211 and his operator ID was ID 0635. He assured me that this vacation package was legitimate. He stated to ensure that this is not fraud that I could call the 800# on the back of my credit card to ensure that I am working with Ramada. I did provide him with my debit/credit card and received reservation # of FT022507026XT. I inquired as to why the reservation number changed from what was on the voucher of FNR021707 and confirmation number of 355082433. He stated that it changed because that was the numbers they put on all the offers and once the call is made I am then provided with a number that is unique to my package offer and since my offer now included the theme, water parks, upgrades, etc. my reservation number was changed. He stated that I would receive everything in writing and my Itinerary once the remainder balance had been received. He then gave me my approval code of 045265 and transferred me to the Promotion Director for verification. The promotion director restated my vacation package and I also confirmed the premium passes, trips, and all expenses being paid on this quality monitored and recorded call.
Later I did call the number on the back of my debit/credit card to ensure that my approval code of 045265 was really approved by Ramada and that I was really doing business with Ramada. It was confirmed that the approval code of 045265 for the $698 deposit was indeed for Ramada Plaza Resorts in addition to this Ramada Plaza Resorts is the name that also appeared on my bank statement.
I did not hear from this company again so approximately the beginning of November 2007, I called customer service and my trip was confirmed. I was also told again that I would receive my paperwork in the mail soon and 2 weeks prior to my trip I would receive my Itinerary. I was told that because I have a remainder balance is why I was not provided anything yet.
I was ready to take this trip so on April 1, 2008, I called customer service at 800-203-9783 to book my trip for June. I was told that for 2 children at $99 each, upgrade price of $389 and remainder $698, my balance is $1,285. After my credit card was approved for the remainder balance of $1,285, I endured several transfers to several different departments with long hold and or wait times. I had waited over an hour and a half for the air fare department when I hung up and called back only to be told that this department was now closed and to try back again tomorrow. I refuse to call back again the next day to endure the same hold and or wait times with more prompts to follow. Since I had already paid the remainder balance of the trip and fed up with the last department I needed to talk to about air fare I decided to just book my air fare with SouthWest airlines online. This was a much easier and user friendly process without the wait. The price was ok, only $1080 for round trip tickets for 4 people. On this airline there was open seating to and from Ft Lauderdale Florida.
A few days prior to my trip, I finally received my Itinerary. My reservation number was changed again. Now my reservation number is FT022507026XW. I called customer service regarding this change and was told that everything is the same and that she is not sure why I was told FT022507026XT. I attempted to reach Jack Billard which is really just the number to RAMADA PLAZA RESORTS where you can leave a message for someone to call you back. However, no one ever called me back and I never received any paperwork in the mail about this trip.
Although, I am not feeling good now about this trip, my family is all excited, packed and ready to go. In addition to this, my flight arrangements have already been made. I continued trying to reach someone not a recording at the RAMADA PLAZA RESORTS and finally, I did. I was told everything was as promised. I was assured that the change in the reservation number was only done due to the change from the hold on the trip for the remainder balance to the now paid and booked trip.
I took some cash on the trip and in case of emergency my debit/credit cards to avoid interests charges on credit cards. When I arrived in Ft Lauderdale on 6/7/08, I went to the Alamo Rent-A-Car to pick up my full size car and was advised of a much needed deposit of $140 on a credit card. I explained that I did not have any credit cards with me and would pay cash for the rental. He stated that I have to use a credit card for the rental. I provided him with my debit/credit card and he charged me the $140 because you cannot put a hold on a debit/credit card like you can a credit card. It was advised that the deposit money would be refunded back to the debit/credit card when I retuned the rental.
I then went on to the Welcome Center to pick up the vouchers and the passes. I was given a resort voucher for Vacation Village and was told that they dont have any passes for me and that they dont have anything to do with Orlando. I would have to get my premium passes from that Welcome Center in Orlando for the Orlando attractions and that they did not have any passes for dinner cruises or attractions in the system for me at this Welcome Center in Ft Lauderdale either. I was then told that I had to attend a Vacation Village Time Share presentation in order to get the free dinner cruise. I advised that I am only here for a limited time and I do not have time for a Time Share presentation, I was given an apology and told that this was all that they could do for me. I went on the Time Share as indicated and got the free dinner cruise for my family. I had to pay for all of the other meals that were supposed to be free.
When we got to the Vacation Village resort I was told that I needed a credit card. I advised them that everything was to be paid for by Ramada. I was then told that Ramada would pay for the room; however they must have a credit card on file prior to giving me the keys for tax purposes. I provided them with my debit/credit card. We were put in this small one bedroom with one bathroom and a let out couch in another room that included the kitchen. Not what I expected at all from a resort of this magnitude to house 4 people. But when we went on the Time Share presentation we saw nothing like where we had to stay.
We then went on the cruise to Nassau Bahamas. We were told immediately that we had to present a credit card for the on board account. I explained that everything is to be paid for by Ramada and our meals are free. I was assured that all the meals were free, however I still have to pay for the things that I buy on the boat via an on board account. I again provided my debit/credit card. This boat, Regal Empress, was not apart of the Carnival Cruise Line yet it was apart of the Imperial Majestys cruise line. This was not the cruise line of my choice. My family of 4 was put into one very small room more like a little box with a little round window, 3 bunk beds and a roll out cot. I felt like we were in a jail cell. I could not even sleep with my husband on this cruise. I could not believe I paid $389 upgrade fee for this. This is not what I was promised at all. Although, I was very disappointed on this rust bucket I tried to make the best of this cruise for my children who had never been on a cruise before. This vacation package was so horrible yet I had to put on a smile for my kids. We stayed out of the room as long as we could for this 2 night 3 day cruise and kept cost to a minimum because I had more cash in my pocket than I did on the debit/credit card I provided them with especially since Alamo charged me $140. To make matters worse, we woke up to a bill inserted in our door. We learned that in addition to Gas $30 per person in the state room ($30*4 = $120) we had to pay $20 per person in the state room for Gratuity ($20*4 = $80) for a total of $200. I went to the desk and advised them that these fees were to be paid for by Ramada. They were not very friendly at all and advised me that they don't know anything about that and that I have to pay this either with my on board account or cash. I kept my cash in my pocket and approved the charges with Citibank for these fees and gratuity charges that totaled $239.00. This was because the only drinks included with the meals were tea and water you had to pay additional gratuity for any soda you bought. I refused to buy anything else on this boat other than a picture for my kids to remember.
Citibank checks with its customers for approval on foreign purchases therefore pended the charges awaiting my approval. These are charges that I was not informed about that would have just been deducted had it not been for this approval requirement. Thank you Citibank!
Then we drove over 4 hours to get to Orlando. We went to the Welcome Center to pick up the voucher and passes only to find out that we only was to receive a hotel voucher no passes or anything else. This was the last straw! I stated to the representative what this trip was to include and all the rep could do is apologize and say that there is nothing he can do for me. I became upset and emotional due to my children asking me Mommy are we going to Disney World? I went back into the Welcome Center to explain that I did not come all this way just to stay at a hotel. Disney world was to be the highlight of this trip for my family. I was told the exact same message but this time I was provided with and address that I could write to and asked to leave the office. I asked to speak to a manager and he replied I am the manager; however my boss would be here tomorrow.
He then went on to say what I am advising him of is not in his system. I asked that he provide me with what is in his system. He had another rep in the Welcome Center print me what they had. This rep went on to say that she could tell that I don't get any passes because of my reservation number being FT022507026XW. I could not believe this. I said can you check this same number but with XT. She did this for me and the screen only comes up for a brief second and immediately changes to reflect the XW reservation. She stated that this could be that there was some kind of changes made, however she just works there and really don't have access to nothing else. She also stated from her experience people that did receive free tickets and or passes had reservation numbers that ended in XT. Now I finally understood the relevance in the significant XT/XW change that customer service lied about. I took the Ramada hotel voucher to the front desk and met with Christon, I still had tears in my eyes and he asked me what was the matter and if there was anything he could do for me. I told Christon that I live in Broadview, Illinois and have come all this way to learn that I have been ripped off by Ramada. He sympathized with me and encouraged me to explain. I explained everything to him and he stated that Ramada Plaza Resorts and Ramada are different entities they are not affiliated with Ramada Plaza Resorts or the Welcome Center at all. He was so kind and courteous to me and insisted on getting his manager to help me with this ordeal. His manager, April was just as kind and courteous to us. She provided me with the free meal vouchers that I was supposed to have received from the welcome center and she upgraded my room. Christon and April exemplify what customer service should be. April also advised me of a drawing that they do every night where they give away $50. I did not win the $50 on the first night; however I did win the next day. I did not go to see the manager because April advised me that she went to explain my dilemma and she was treated with disrespect. I did not want to experience the rudeness and disrespect again from the Welcome Center that really did not welcome me at all. I went on yet another Vacation Village Time Share presentation and received $50 for my attendance there. This was not nearly enough to take a family of four to the attractions that were supposed to be free with this vacation package. I had pay out of pocket for the tickets for Island of Adventure and Universal Studios we could not afford to include Disney World and I felt that two out of three would be better than just going to one. I was not about to let this misfortune and or rip off ruin my kids vacation. While I was in Orlando, I ran into other people who got ripped off by this vacation package offer. With the economy being as bad as it is right now, it is a shame that a business has to stoop to these kinds of tactics in order to make money at the expense of the consumer. There should be a Class Action Law Suit against Ramada Plaza Resorts for what they are doing to people. I met 4 other families in Orlando that regret taking this offer. Who really knows how many people have been ripped off by RAMADA PLAZA RESORTS Orlando/Ft. Lauderdale Vacations? Thank you April and Christon for your hospitality!
Now that the Orlando ordeal is over, I had to endure this long drive back to Ft Lauderdale to stay one more night at Vacation Village that is miles away from the airport. I went to the Welcome Center in Ft Lauderdale explained all that I have already been through and asked that they please let me stay at Ramada instead of the resorts little boxed room. I was put in a room at the Ramada that had two full size regular beds and given the meal vouchers on 6/13/08 that I was supposed to have had when I first arrived on 6/7/08. Again I was given an apology and advised of where to write to regarding being dissatisfied with the vacation package. I also advised them that Vacation Village charged my credit card for the taxes and for the room when this was to be paid for by Ramada. The Welcome Center in Ft Lauderdale stated that they have nothing to do with Vacation Village and that I would need to speak with them. I called over there to them and they could not explain the $50 charge and stated that they only charged me the taxes of $12 per night total of $24. I printed a copy of my statement to show them that I was charged but prior to be taking this over there to them a supervisor got on the phone to explain to me that this was just charged to ensure payment and that my card would be reimbursed in approximately 10 to 12 days. I explained to Vacation Village that I would be back home by then. Again I was told that there was nothing she can do. It is now 6/29/08 and I never got the credit from Vacation Village. So in essence, Vacation Village got paid from me and Ramada.
At the airport, I dropped off the rental and was told that I would not be getting a refund due to the various taxes and $68 gas charge which totals $140. Of course, I would get hit with yet another case of fraud at the end of my vacation. At this point, I did not even argue I just took my receipt and headed for the plane back to Midway.
I get back and have to take a cab home. The cab informs me that in order for them to leave Midway and go to Broadview there is an additional fee due to Broadview being a suburb. I then had to pay approximately $50 just to get home. I told many people about this trip and wish that I could let many more know. No one should ever have to go through what I went through.
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