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Snags in travel plans leave customers on edge

Transat spokeswoman Debbie Cabana said the couple had bought a bilingual tour. The company told them this was the case beforehand.

“That said, we do expect the tour guides to communicate in both languages to adequately serve our clients,” she said.

In the interest of customer satisfaction, Transat doubled the offer to vouchers of $ 300 apiece to use for future travel.

Vivian Chow asked for help getting credit for Aeroplan miles after flying to China last May with Air Canada.

“Since the flight to China is 15 hours long and 16 hours on the way back, I opted to upgrade to business class,” she said.

She had booked with Sinorama, a tour operator that gets discounted airfares and includes the flights with its tour packages.

She was charged full price ($ 3,730) for her business class upgrade and was issued a brand new ticket.

When her reward miles failed to show up in her account, she started writing to both Aeroplan and Air Canada and getting different excuses.

Aeroplan said her original ticket was a discounted fare, so she wasn’t eligible to receive miles. She should speak to Air Canada.

Air Canada said same-day upgrades were not eligible for miles. When she said her upgrade was well in advance of the flight, Air Canada said it would forward her email to Aeroplan.

“I feel like I’m just getting the runaround and being treated unfairly,” she told me in December, seven months after her trip.

Christa Poole, an Aeroplan spokesperson, helped resolve this complaint once I contacted her. The problem was an improper linkage.

“My original ticket wasn’t eligible for points,” Chow said. “When I upgraded, my ticket was still linked to the discounted one, even though I was issued a new business class, full fare ticket.

“After months of buck passing, a vice-president from Aeroplan finally contacted me and awarded me the miles. I guess I had to persist long enough for someone higher up to do something about it.”

Monica Berzins booked a one-night hotel reservation with Expedia, a large online travel agency. Although she lives in Brampton, Ont., and stayed at the Ramada Plaza in Toronto, she was charged in U.S. dollars.

The charge was $ 319.41, which she thought was in Canadian dollars. But the U.S. exchange rate boosted her hotel bill to $ 410.29.

Neither TD Visa (her credit card issuer) nor Expedia would agree to lower the amount. Meanwhile, the Expedia charge rose to $ 423.87 U.S. on her January credit card statement.

“Expedia said it was up to TD Visa to sort this out and TD Visa said it was up to Expedia. I just want the U.S. exchange rate deleted from my Canadian transaction,” she told me.

Thanks to Expedia contact Mary Zajac in Toronto, Berzins got her money back for the unwelcome U.S. dollar conversion.

“We have determined that Monica booked a hotel reservation through Expedia.com, as opposed to Expedia.ca, which caused the charge to be in U.S. dollars,” Zajac said.

“Based on her conversation with the agent, she had the impression that the quoted rate of $ 319.41 was in Canadian currency.

“Once the reservation was finalized, she received a confirmation email with the total in U.S. dollars, but she did not notice the currency of this charge until it later appeared on her credit card statement.”

Expedia.ca apologized to Berzins for any miscommunication. It also pushed forward the exchange rate to Feb. 15, boosting her refund to $ 63.25 (U.S.) (from $ 59.93 (U.S.) on the date of purchase).

My advice: After making arrangements, make sure to get all the details in writing. Check your confirmation emails at the time of purchase and correct any mistakes.

Seek compensation if you have been overcharged or underserved. And if you get no response, use mainstream or social media to help move your complaint to a higher level.

Ellen Roseman’s column runs in Smart Money. You can reach her at eroseman@thestar.ca.

TORONTO STAR