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Beware of Affordable Holiday Packages

  • July 17, 2019
  • By 50 Shades
  • 18 Comments
Beware of Affordable Holiday Packages

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.

Beware of Affordable Holiday Packages

The Maldives

Our TripADeal Experience

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!

Beware of Affordable Holiday Packages

Sri Lankan Girl

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.

Beware of Affordable Holiday Packages

A common complaint about TripADeal is flight scheduling

Common TripADeal Holiday Complaints

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:

  1. TripADeal do not take people with any type of disability. This is not only discriminatory but very disappointing and limiting the ability of a large number of people.
  2. Some forms of transportation were old and uncomfortable.
  3. In some cases the tour guide’s English was very poor and hard to understand or communicate.
  4. Tour guides did not have a duty of care or responsibility to ensure travellers joined the group safely. No contact details were supplied to travellers for the tour guide.
  5. Some of the accommodation was sub-standard. Basic expectations of westerners visiting overseas locations were not met like fridges that work in hotel rooms, provision 0f tea & coffee making facilities, clean sanitary toilets and no dining-in facilities.
  6. Hotels were located in remote areas making it difficult to sightsee or find places to dine.
  7. Not enough time in between destinations to fully take in the place. Driving all day and arriving at the next hotel late at night allowing no time to look around the city during daylight hours.
  8.  Tight scheduling between flights attributable to TripAdeal’s poor scheduling.
  9. The trip was nothing more than an obligatory shopping tour forced upon you by the local tour guides.
  10. TripADeal block book seats with the airline, therefore there is no opportunity to select seats.
  11. TripADeal take absolutely no responsibility for things that go wrong on the trip once you’ve departed the country.
  12. Poor communication between tour guides and TripADeal travel agents has caused many holiday disasters on several trips.
  13. Tipping of tour guides is a grey area and not what TripADeal set out in their information documents. This causes arguments between travellers and tour guides.
  14. Optional tours at destinations – If you do not participate, the alternative is to wait on the bus until the participants returned. This is totally unacceptable.
  15. Their overall China tour packages focus on making a profit via TripADeal travellers visits to “government factories” with “safe credit card facilities” and “quality product” at “special prices”. These are over-priced and over-sold, high pressured, compulsory shopping experiences which allow them make money through commissions and meet benchmarks set by the Chinese Government who sponsor the package.

These are just a selection of TripADeal holiday package reviews I’ve copied from TripAdvisor, so you basically get the drift.

Beware of Affordable Holiday Packages

TripADeal China Holiday Packages have been complained about the most

Affordable Holiday Packages Tips

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:

  1.  Make sure you read the full details of the trip including all the small print, terms and conditions and trip itinerary. Check to see what their cancellation policy is and whether dates can be moved around in the event of unforeseen circumstances. I notice that another travel agency, Luxury Escapes do allow one change of date.
  2. Check the tour itinerary thoroughly and ensure you’re not too rushed and have time to have a proper look around the destinations.
  3. Check reviews of the hotels you’re staying at and make sure they are up to your standard.
  4. Take a look at internal tours that you’re doing on the trip and make sure these suit your preferences. For example, if you can’t swim don’t opt to do a snorkelling tour.
  5. Clarify all extra costs with the travel agent, including tipping, taxes and any extras.
  6. Check the flight details closely and make sure the connections aren’t too tight. In our case we never received our flight itinerary until 5 months after we’d booked which I think is unacceptable under the circumstances.
  7. If the holiday package seems to be cheap, then it probably will be! Don’t expect “champagne on a beer budget”!
Beware of Affordable Holiday Packages

Make sure hotels are of a reasonable standard

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!

 

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By 50 Shades, July 17, 2019 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.
  • 18

50 Shades

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.

18 Comments
  • Shannon
    July 17, 2019

    A good read thank you. I had wondered about their trips which seem so incredibly cheap!

    • Kathy
      July 18, 2019

      They are incredibly cheap and although they do have some great reviews there appears to be a lot of bad ones as well. This always makes me skeptical and now I’ve had such a bad booking experience I would never book with TripADeal again!

  • Christine
    July 17, 2019

    Grrrrr – how annoying. You just have to forget it now though so it doesn’t spoil your holiday. I did once investigate one of these but they couldn’t tell me what airline the included fare would be with, nor of course the exact day and time, so I didn’t pursue. I’ve similarly read bad reports, although my sister did go on a cheap Chinese tour and was happy with it and they had lowish expectations. I did book a holiday once with Luxury Escapes and two months out realised I’d written in the wrong month when booking, but when I approached the hotel in Thailand about the incorrect dates, they changed it willingly without any fuss. I suspect I was lucky as that would have been at the discretion of the hotel. You certainly have to be careful so thanks for all this good advice. Will share.

    • Kathy
      July 18, 2019

      Yes we’ve been on several Luxury Escapes and have found they are a lot more flexible with changes and the holidays have been fantastic. I really was skeptical about TripADeal, but several people told me that they had great holidays with them and decided why not give them a go. I’m hoping that the holiday itself is better than the booking process. TripADeal weren’t prepared to give us any of the flight details until I persevered. Their “policy” is to only give you your flight details about 6 weeks prior to the trip. I find this completely unacceptable too!

  • Katherine
    July 18, 2019

    Gosh, certainly something to look out for.

    • Kathy
      July 18, 2019

      Yes I always appreciate information like this to make travellers aware of the pitfalls of budget travel holiday packages. You really need to do your homework first and in this case I wasn’t thorough enough!

  • Jane
    July 20, 2019

    Great article Kathy and well done for bringing it to everyone’s attention. We tend to skip over terms and conditions.

    • Kathy
      July 21, 2019

      I think we can all be guilty of getting overly excited about the holiday deal and skim through the small print. This has taught me a very good lesson. You really do need to be aware of terms and conditions. But in saying this there should be some flexibility for change of circumstances. It’s very mean spirited of TripADeal.

  • Janet
    July 22, 2019

    About this time last year we saw a great deal to go to China and were seriously considering it. I’m not sure if it was with Trip a Deal but a lot of what you have said here is very familiar. Fortunately before we booked anything we investigated thoroughly and checked out a lot of reviews … and decided against it. I’m all for a bargain holiday but not if it means I hate it!!!!

    • Kathy
      July 22, 2019

      I’ve seen plenty of these cheap deals to China and so far it has not appealed to me. Friends of ours went on an organised tour in March (not with TripADeal) and they had a long list of complaints. It certainly is a great idea to do your research first.

  • jan
    July 22, 2019

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Kathy.

    • Kathy
      July 22, 2019

      You’re welcome. I think it’s important to warn others of the pitfalls of budget holiday packages. Once bitten, twice shy!

  • jo
    July 23, 2019

    Arggh. I can feel your frustration. Like you I would also have been a bull terrier. I absolutely hate that the travel world has become so removed from human beings who can understand the troubles and challenges of individuals. Seems as if this company have a lot to answer to though. I hope your holiday goes well in the end. Maybe you’ll be upgraded?!!

    • Kathy
      July 25, 2019

      Yes I feel this particular travel agency has depersonalised the travel booking experience with absolutely no flexibility or willingness to provide basic customer service. I will never book with this company again and fingers crossed our holiday experience will be better than the booking experience.

  • Jan Wild
    July 31, 2019

    What an annoying experience. I do hope your on-ground experience is excellent and helps to remove the bitter taste for you.

  • Gary Francis
    August 5, 2019

    We certainly discovered that some company’s definition of ‘luxury’ does match with the everyday person…. It does surprise me that-in the age of online reviews-a company is prepared to mis-represent it’s products…

    • Kathy
      August 5, 2019

      This travel company is certainly trying to make a quick buck without taking each of their customers needs into consideration. They simply don’t care because they know that there are plenty of other new victims ready to pounce on their “cheap as chips” holiday packages. When I threatened them with bad reviews and publicity they couldn’t care less!

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