Q. My wife and I booked a trip to Aruba to celebrate her 60th birthday and my 65th, and our 10-year wedding anniversary. The AAA travel agent recommended the hotel, as we knew nothing about the island, and we paid extra for an oceanfront room. To say the accommodations were horrible would be an incredible understatement. I complained to AAA about the hotel and, after a month, all they were willing to offer was a $300 credit toward our next trip booked through them. Any help in retrieving the money that we paid for a vacation that was a travesty would be really appreciated. - FRED BEYROUTEY, LEOMINSTER
A. When you book with a travel agency, especially in today’s heavily self-service environment, you expect expertise and service. Agents have varying skills and insights and can only foresee so much when it comes to what happens on the actual trip.
To have such a special trip become such a disappointment is truly unfortunate. I asked AAA staff to reconsider their offer and they increased it.
“We at AAA certainly regret that Mr. Beyroutey’s Aruba accommodations proved to be such a disappointment, and we sincerely hope that he and his wife enjoyed their trip overall,” said Mary Maguire, director of public affairs for AAA Southern New England.
They are now offering $750 in credit and three AAA gift memberships. That, clearly, isn’t your money back, but it is a good faith offer. Maguire noted that more could have been done to help had the problems been made known during the trip rather than afterward. The agent could have helped make contacts to improve the accommodations, she said.
“Our records indicate that during his stay in Aruba, Mr. Beyroutey never contacted his AAA travel counselor,” Maguire said. “We recommend that members always notify us in the event of difficulties encountered at any travel destination, so that we can leverage our relationship with the travel partners involved to provide members with the best vacation experience possible.”
It’s a shame your big celebration trip was marred by bad feelings and bad memories. Hopefully, others will learn from this that one big advantage of using an agent is for their service, when a problem arises.Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers for the past two decades. He also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.