ED Magedson – Founder
Universal StudiosOrlando, Florida Orlando, Florida United States of America
Since I was a kid I always wanted to go to Universal Studios and finally saved enough to go now that I am a parent of 3. A few months ago I booked a vacation package which included hotel and flight for my family. At the time of booking, the online menu asked the "innocent" question how many children and their ages would be going on the vacation. I indicated that my youngest of three is 1 years old. I assumed the airline needed to know the names of all children, including a lap child for security reasons but I am also aware that there isn't an additional cost for a child of this age sitting on a parent's lap. Moreover, at no time did I affirmatively request to be charged a separate seat on the plane for the baby but nonetheless was charged $330 for what would be an empty seat because Universal Studios made a unilateral decision to hit me with this charge!
It was only months later when I received the airline information indicating there was a separate seat on the plane for my baby that I realized the package price included this cost, at which time I called Universal Studios rather hopeful that this matter would be easily resolved by Universal Studios applying common sense judgment and a sense of equity. However, after a long wait to speak with a live person I was told by both a line staff and a supervisor that I had no recourse other than to pay the charge for my baby to have his own seat on the plane under the misguided reasoning that they do not give refunds for seats purchased. I informed them that the flaw in their argument is that the issue of a refund should not apply in the case at bar since I never requested to be charged a seat on the plane for the baby in the first instance, yet this reasoning was met with a solid wall of bureacracy and lack of sympathy.
I spoke with an attorney and was told I could not bring a successful lawsuit in small claims because of jurisdiction and service of process issues as I live in NY and the company is based in Florida. Fortunately I used American Express to pay for the vacation package, and Amex is in the process of attempting to bring about a favorable outcome.
In closing, caveat emptor - let the buyer beware. Universal Studios got their pound of flesh that I offered willingly to spend a week there on vacation. Still, this bad business practice of digging deeper by enforcing inflexible policies regarding the charge of an airplane seat for a 1-year old that I never requested, is a hurtful policy to the average Joe in these difficult financial times. Universal Studios is better positioned to absorb any cost associated with their error but would rather engage in business practices that are unconscionable.
To the public I beseech, warn your friends with babies seeking to book a vacation package with Universal Studios not to fall victim as I did. As a side note, the toys they sell on their grounds were substantially marked up for the same toys you can purchase in Toys R Us or similar local toy stores.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/10/2010 11:36 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Universal-Studios/Orlando-Florida-/Universal-Studios-offers-a-more-than-you-bargain-for-vacation-package-by-selling-an-ext-639437. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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