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Beware of affordable holiday packages! From our recent experience with the “cheap as chips” travel agency, TripADeal on a 14 day Sri Lanka/Maldives trip there is absolutely no flexibility. Once you’ve booked and paid there is no flexibility and no changes can be made. It doesn’t matter if you’ve moved interstate, had a death in the family or fallen ill. You either go on the trip or lose your money! There is no credit available or even ability to transfer to someone else.
Sure these holiday packages are cheap and offer travel to some great bucket list destinations. But you need to make sure you are aware of the small print and read some travel reviews before you even think about booking.
We made the mistake of pouncing upon a great deal on a 14 day trip to Sri Lanka and the Maldives back in October last year. Although we thought we had read the booking terms and conditions thoroughly we missed one thing! This one thing was about the city of departure for the flights. We understood that we had to pay extra to depart from Brisbane but much to our surprise we discovered after we booked and paid that the international flight actually departed from Melbourne. We immediately contacted TripADeal to ask for our flight to be changed to depart from the Gold Coast and they flatly refused. A very smug girl with a ridiculous name (spelt in a trendy fashion – as you do!), told us that once we paid there were absolutely no changes that could be made to the booking as per the terms and conditions of the holiday package.
Fast forward to March this year when we relocated to Northern NSW. I once again contacted TripADeal explaining that Brisbane was no longer a viable departure city for us and could we cancel the domestic flight to Melbourne. I was met with a brick wall nor any understanding of my situation and was told I couldn’t change the booking whatsoever!
So I persisted and emailed an official complaint to TripADeal and asked for the contact details of the manager or CEO of the company. They refused to give me this information so I was dealing with a reservations assistant! I also lodged a complaint with AFTA (Australian Federation of Travel Agents). I tried to appeal to them to make them see that I had a justifiable reason to change the flight booking. Alas, they were unmoved!
Eventually they offered me a solution, but that solution involved paying an extra $300 each to cancel the Brisbane to Melbourne flight. Things were getting out of hand, so I then lodged an official complaint with Sri Lankan Airlines asking them to justify these ridiculous cancellation fees. Keep in mind our trip isn’t until September and the flights were only booked in March this year.
After about a month Sri Lankan Airlines agreed to waiver their cancellation fee but they weren’t prepared to give us a refund on our originally paid for flights from Brisbane to Melbourne and we had to pay TripADeal another $90 in taxes and administration fees. You can imagine by this stage I had smoke coming out of both of my ears!
In short we’re snookered! Unless we’re prepared to lose our originally paid airfares and pay the extra fees to TripADeal. You can imagine my response to that! There was no way I was giving this company another dollar of my money.
I decided to take a peek at TripAdvisor to see what other traveller’s experiences have been like with this travel agency and not surprisingly they don’t stack up too well. Here’s some of the things travellers have to say:
These are just a selection of TripADeal holiday package reviews I’ve copied from TripAdvisor, so you basically get the drift.
There has been this nagging thought in the back of my mind and that is “you get what you pay for”! However in saying this I still think that TripADeal and other affordable holiday package travel agents should have a duty of care to ensure that you are safe on your trip, that tour guides are experienced and speak reasonable English, accommodation is clean and comfortable and that trip schedules are doable.
I recommend that you look closely at these affordable holiday packages prior to making a booking. Look at things like:
At the end of the day if you’re not happy with a travel agent or a booked holiday package then complain and make sure you give them a bad review. Unless we speak up there may be others who have bad holiday experiences with these overtly competitive travel agents.
We’re off on our Sri Lankan/Maldives holiday in mid September and although I’ve had a bad pre-holiday experience I’m hoping that the trip will go smoothly. You will certainly be the first to know if we don’t!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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