I wanted to get your opinions on something that happened to me this weekend —
I’m generally a fan of group buying sites, from a consumer standpoint, and have had primarily positive experiences with them in the past.
Back in April, TravelZoo ran a deal for 50% off skydiving. It was right around my brother’s birthday, so I purchased one for him and myself.
Trying to coordinate our varying schedules was a hefty task, one made more difficult by the fact I work a 9-5 and could only really make the trek on a weekend, but back in May we set up an appointment for the next weekend date they had available: Sunday, August 7.
The anticipation had been building the past couple weeks and we were both so excited about our upcoming adventure.
The day before, I tried calling the business to ask a couple basic questions. Oddly, no one answered the first time I called, and I figured they were busy training people or jumping out of planes or some such. No big deal. I tried again a few hours later, and still no response, so I left a message. They never returned my call, but I figured it’s the middle of summer and they’re probably busy.
My brother made the 80 mile drive down to my place, and from there, on Sunday, we departed the 55 miles south to Oceanside where the skydiving place was.
When we reached the destination, we pulled into a dinky field area with a few tiny buildings and walked up to the little office. It wasn’t what I’d been expecting, but I figured it was a small enterprise, and that it seemed plausible they were here.
However, when we got inside, the woman explained that no such business existed at that location, they had moved months ago, and that we were the third people that day to come in with an appointment to skydive.
Needless to say, we were caught totally off guard and totally shocked at the lack of business integrity on the skydiving company’s behalf as to not notify their customers (who have already booked appointments and already paid) of any changes in service.
We tried calling them several times, and still no answer. The woman proceeded to explain that she believed they moved to another airport, and gave us their phone number. When we called over there, no one answered, though the recording mentioned the airport manager’s name and phone number.
I gave him a ring, and he did answer, which was refreshing. He then explained that, yes, the skydiving company had been his tenant, that he’s been receiving calls about this, AND, most notably, that THEY WERE NO LONGER IN BUSINESS.
I had never really experienced anything like this before, and, needless to say, it was a number of things. Shocking. Devastating. HUGE waste of time. Waste of money. Waste of GAS MONEY.
And, this is a tangent, I ended up getting a flat tire on the freeway just after. Just an awful day, all around.
I’ve still not been able to get ahold of anyone that’s been able to offer any kind of actual support. The airport manager took down my contact information, and said he’d alert me of any updates.
Obviously, I expect to have my money (several hundred dollars!) refunded as soon as possible, and reimbursement for gas would be ideal, and I think completely fair, as well.
I called TravelZoo Monday, hoping for some sort of miracle, and, while their delivery was kind, they simply informed me that they’ve received several calls about this, and that they’re trying to come up with a remedy. They’ll let me know when they talk to the business and figure it out, they said.
How long will that take? How long do I wait before it’s reasonable to demand my money back? I told them that this [skydiving] company seems to have dropped off the radar, and inquired about if they have additional contact information other than that which is publicly available, since [the skydiving company] is clearly disregarding any attempts at contact via those portals. The guy said he wasn’t sure. I interpreted that as “no.”
I intend to followup with TravelZoo at the end of the week. I am a fan of theirs and understand this isn’t explicitly their fault, but, it begs certain questions about the screening process that goes into assessing which businesses should be featured, and then, whether TravelZoo should maintain a role in keeping track of who goes out of business, a role in alerting customers who purchase deals through them that a company has gone under, etc.?
What are your thoughts?