REPORT: Gracy Travel Re-booking Problem

glgardnerjr

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Fellow Hunters,

Please see the attached string of e-mails between myself and Gracy Travel over what I view as a tremendous failure on the part of Gracy Travel that has cost me significant dollars.

The background story is that I was forced to cancel my 2013 safari for health reasons and pushed it to 2014. I had used Gracy Travel to book the 2013 flights and was also counting on them for concierge service, gun permits, etc. I had been assured by the Gracy representative that she was tracking all deadlines, etc. and would make sure we rebooked so we could use the airline credits. Additionally, we had specifically discussed that as long as I rebooked during the DSC show we should be within the window. Unfortunately for me I did not calendar the deadline as I felt confident that Gracy Travel had it calendared. Next, the DSC show was later in 2014 and it pushed me beyond my 1 year deadline. Lastly, the Gracy Travel representative who was working on my behalf had left Gracy Travel and no one was monitoring my file.

I give you the e-mails so you can form your own opinion regarding the handling by Gracy and use your own judgment if this is an organization you would want to do business with. I freely admit I should have calendared this and was na?e to put all my faith into Gracy travel. However, I would argue that in the days of Travelocity, Expedia and internet bookings what you are paying a travel agent for if not to handle things like this to ensure their client doesn't get into this situation.

Gary
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From: Gary Gardner
Sent: Friday, January 10, 2014 11:56 AM
To: Meliza Solis
Subject: Africa Trip

Meliza,

Got the trip rescheduled and know we've got to get the air rebooked this month.

Need to Arrive in Johannesburg on Aug 3, 2014
Need to Depart Johannesburg on August 15, 2014

Want the insurance, but would like to understand who it is through and the medical and med evac portion more clearly. Do I need additional medical insurance too, assuming my US coverage won't cover me in SA or Zim? Just heard a horror story about a company called Travel Guard/ AXA Assistance who didn't cover a guy who almost bled to death in Zim and eventually had to put up $10,000 US before the SA hospital would take him! Insurance STILL hasn't covered it 6 months later.

Attaching my gun info and copies of mine and my sons current passport as well.

Assume our credit is with Air France & KLM so we have to go through them? Could get free 1st class upgrades with United...... Also, I have a lot of both Capital One and Hyatt passport points that I could possibly use for upgrades. Let me know if that could work.

Gary L Gardner
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On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 11:20 AM, Debbie Gracy <debbie@gracytravel.com> wrote:

Hi Gary,

I spoke to Delta. To use these tickets, travel must being 1 year from date of issue and tickets must be re-issued by that day. The tickets were issued on Jan 08. I spoke to customer care and they MIGHT allow you reuse BUT travel has to begin by Feb 07. If this is possible Let me know and I can try and sort this out. Basically you would have a credit of $1137.00 per ticket if we are able to reuse.

Let me know.

Thx
Debbie
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From: Gary Gardner
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 11:49 AM

Debbie,

Meliza was tracking this for me to make sure this didn't happen so I guess her leaving leaves me out this money?

Gary L Gardner
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Gary,

Meliza emailed you the rules of the fare and told you when they expired.

As I mentioned Delta said they would extend it 30 days (verbally told me) which means you could leave Feb 7th. There is no way they will extend now or could ever to allow travel in August when your tickets were issued Jan 8, 2013.

I am sorry for your frustration but this is the airline policy.

I have included the email for your reference. As I said, I called Delta and I think they will extend it for 30 days out of courtesy but you still cannot travel in August. These tickets had to be reissued PRIOR to the issue date and travel had to being by that date also.

Let me know if you want to try and use this towards some trip. It needs to be a INTERNATIONAL trip not including Mexico or Canada.

Sincerely,

Debbie
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Gary Gardner
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 12:22 PM

Yes, she did send me that BUT she had called me a couple of times to follow-up and told me she would call again before the due date. I didn't track because I had faith in Meliza as she had been highly recommended to me by XXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXX.

What I read from the airline:

B.RESERVATION FOR NEW ITINERARY MUST BE MADE AND TICKETS ISSUED NO LATER THAN 1YEAR FROM ISSUE DATE OF TICKET BEING EXCHANGED.

Is that it had to be rebooked & issued before January 8th but the travel in August was not the issue. It simply had to be rebooked. Not happy that this has happened and absolutely don't believe it would have had Meliza still been with your company.

That being said. So I have to travel by when? Is one of the credits for me and the other for my son only or can I use the funds from my sons ticket for my wife to travel with me somewhere?

Gary L Gardner
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On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 12:36 PM, Debbie Gracy <debbie@gracytravel.com> wrote:

Gary,

The deadline was the deadline and it was advised and you also stated you thought it had to be done this month. There was never the option to travel in August. You could have departed Jan 7 and returned in August if there was a fare that allowed that length of stay.

Well, she left without notice and did not pass any information along to us. With that said, you missed the 8th of Jan ticketing deadline and I called Delta to try and get them to extend the deadline and they offered to extend 30 days for travel to begin.

Once again, I am sorry you are frustrated but it is the airline policy not mine. I can give you customer support's number and you might be able to convince them to let you use it in August.

Latania at Delta 800-455-2720 file number XXXXXXXX. They do not have to extend the date for reuse but it appeared from the conversation they were prepared to do that.

I am happy to give you Meliza's new place of work and you can call her since you feel she took care of you and the problem is due to the fact she is no longer at Gracy Travel.

Regards

Debbie
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I was charged agents fees of $300.00 per ticket.

How will this be handled/applied?

Gary L Gardner
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On Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 4:15 PM, Arianne Richmond <arianne@gracytravel.com> wrote:

Hi Gary,

The $300.00 service fees per person are charged for the work the agents preform while assisting you. I have reviewed your file as well as correspondence between yourself and Meliza and as she remitted the appropriate services prior to your voluntary cancellation, the service fees will not be refunded. Researching, quoting and ticketing an itinerary in addition to completing supplementary services is very time consuming and is the detailed work the agents are paid to complete. When voluntary changes take place, the agents have already remitted the services that the fees are collected for. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be happy to answer them.

Arianne
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From: Gary Gardner
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 9:01 AM

I couldn't disagree with you more. There was nothing done to this point that I couldn't have done online.

I paid Gracy for value added service such as help with the gun declarations and importation paperwork, etc. which hasn't been done to this point. Mostly the $300 per ticket was to ensure that someone was keeping track of what was going on and that the January 8th deadline didn't pass and me be out significant dollars.

I counted on Gracy Travel to do what your representative told me she would do, but because of gaps in your company and a poor transition of Meliza's files after she left the ball was dropped. I have no recourse other than either legal or to count on Gracy to take responsibility for their failings. Which obviously isn't going to happen.

Of course the other recourse is to file a BBB complaint, send an e-mail detailing all of this to every outfitter I know and to every hunter I know. Next, to post a detailing of all of this to all DSC & HSC members then to post it on every web-site I can find relating to African hunting. Great thing for me is that I own several companies and have an admin who I can assign these tasks to and it takes none of my time and costs me nothing. Your choice.

I am asking you to refund the $600 and I will drop the matter or we can go down the above mentioned path.

Gary L Gardner
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On Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 1:10 PM, Arianne Richmond <arianne@gracytravel.com> wrote:

Hi Gary,

Please allow me to explain our position in more detail. You are correct, you could have purchased tickets online, but as your correspondence with Meliza shows, creating an international itinerary, specifically for someone traveling with firearms, is not as simple as a few clicks on the internet. Our agents specialize in their services and have a detailed knowledge of the industry that extends far past booking a ticket online. Please allow me to detail the services we provided to you: Quoted itinerary with different routing options, advised on passport renewal timelines, advised trip insurance options, seating upgrades, Amsterdam Dutch transit permits, and your underage son traveling with guns & ammunition. The below mentioned gun importation paperwork is not included in the $300.00 service fees. You were advised of this in an email- those services are separate: Pre ç´¡pproved gun permit processing is $135.00 and the VIP off the plane Bid Air service is $90.00, neither of which you were charged for. When you chose to cancel your trip, Meliza continued to assist you appropriately and advised you of your cancellation details.

Once you advised me that you were worried about a ticketing deadline, I immediately contacted Debbie and she dropped what she was doing to call the airlines and sort out your situation. Should you have wanted to proceed with using the credit, we certainly would have handled the new reservation. We have to adhere to the fare rules that are dictated by the airlines. Upon your request to cancel, Meliza advised you of when your tickets were issued and made you aware of your deadline. If there was any confusion as to when your credit needed to be ticketed/used by, it would have been easily clarified at that time.

Upon review of your correspondence with Meliza, you were provided the services we advertise and made aware of the deadline for use of your tickets. Your plans to use your credits for a trip in August was never an option, as per airline policy, the credits had to be used by Jan 8 2014. In your email, you specifically state that 都he had called me a couple of times to follow-up and told me she would call again before the due date Not only did Meliza make you aware of your deadline, she followed up 殿 couple times to remind you. Airlines and online ticketing websites do not provide reminders, the reminders you were provided are part of our services. To suggest a fourth or fifth reminder is needed, exaggerates our professional role. The fact that you contacted us past your deadline does not mean we provided inadequate services. You were made aware of the cancellation policy and given several reminders, Gracy Travel has done nothing illegal or unprofessional. We do not provide services for free or offer refunds for voluntary cancellations. Not only were given reminders to use your credit, Debbie received a verbal agreement from the airline to extend your credit for use.

We, like you, must adhere to the policies set in place by the airlines. To argue we did not provide you service or make you aware of your cancellation policy is inaccurate. Should you still feel it is necessary to take legal action, or relay this situation on to the various entities listed below, please ensure you do so with accuracy. We have acted properly and provided you with professional service; should inaccurate information be provided to others we will also have no recourse but to take legal action. You were made aware of the cancelation policy in place, given (per your words) a couple reminders, and Debbie received a verbal agreement from the airline to extend your credit for use. Should you wish to utilize your credit, we are happy to assist with securing this extension should Delta still offer to grant you the 30days which I believe will be Feb 07 to begin travel.

Arianne
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Arianne,

Again, we disagree.

Your continuing referral that the plans to use the credit for travel in August was 渡ever an option is disputed by both another travel agent and by a Delta supervisor to whom I spoke. The travel simply had to be rebooked by January 8th. However, lets go down your path that this wasn't possible. That would mean that I was misadvised by Gracy Travel when cancelling on what my options where. I was specifically told that utilizing these tickets during the next safari season was no problem. If you are correct, which I don't believe your are, then I should have been advised that I would need to reuse the tickets prior to January of 2014 for some other travel since they would not work for my rescheduled safari. I was NEVER advised of this and was again specifically told they only had to be rebooked during January. So under your assumption I was grossly misinformed by Gracy Travel when I cancelled my trip. Under my understanding you failed to follow through on a commitment to follow-up as promised by your representative.

I have never said that I was not made aware of the cancellation policy. I was made aware but did not calendar the event because I had faith in Gracy Travel and its' representative that they would be in contact with me as promised. Gracy Travel specifically told me that they were tracking the deadline, had it calendared and would make sure they called me prior to the deadline. This is a true and accurate statement. Additionally, during my last conversation with Gracy Travel I specifically told your representative that I was attending the DSC Convention to reschedule and as soon as I rescheduled I would let you know. I was told this should be fine. Therefore I worked under the mistaken assumption, based on advice from Gracy Travel, that as long as I went to the DSC show and booked my travel during the show I would have these credits to apply to my trip. These above points too are completely accurate. Either through misinformation by Gracy Travel or lack of follow-through on commitments made for follow-up made by Gracy Travel I am out significant dollars. The ç”°ouple of reminders that you refer to only confirmed the above mentioned assumption I was working under based on information provided by Gracy Travel. This may not be illegal but it is certainly not professional nor does it represent the services for which I paid.

Gracy Travels handling of the either misinformation or lack of committed follow-up to this point has been anything but professional and has centered around denials and misplacing blame versus a customer service driven organization that would have recognized they had dropped the ball because of a poor transition of accounts when one of its employees left. The credit for use is meaningless since it requires travel within 30 days, which I have no need for.

Anything I communicate to others will be completely accurate per the facts of the events and both the written and verbal communication between Gracy Travel and myself.

Gary L Gardner
:)
 
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Diamondhitch

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This is a clear case of CYA.
I understand your frustration and yes the travel agency should have reminded you if that was your agreement but, as in any contract, in the end it is your responsibility to meet the deadline. As you say you have a secretary that can take care of smearing Gracy travels name for you, maybe she could have had this on her schedule to attend to in the 1st place.

from Gracy travels standpoint, your lack of planning is not their emergency. We are all responsible for our own actions or lack thereof.
 

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Sorry this happened to you Gary, I can understand your frustration. At the same time, I understand Gracy's point of view in that they're communicating the rules not writing them.

While I've never bought travel insurance, this seems like a case where that would have come into play and made this a non-issue. Not meaning to poke a stick in your eye, just trying to learn from an unfortunate situation.
 

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Gary, I appreciate you sharing your experience.

This demonstrates the very sad part about trusting someone to do a job and making sure you have reached an understanding.

I don't see this as a smear campaign, just a very disappointing encounter that points to how we have to make sure of what we are buying.

.."When voluntary changes take place, the agents have already remitted the services that the fees are collected for. "

Interesting that their $300 fee only relates to the initial booking process and nothing after the tickets issue. Pricey bit of work they do for you.
That alone would make me think twice.
 

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Hi glgardnerjr

Welcome to AH...


I am not sure what you are trying to accomplish with your post.

When one purchases an airline flight through a travel agent you have the option of purchasing trip insurance. I am not sure if you elected to go with this option. I know i have made travel insurance a part of my travel plans, in fact, our last over sea's trip the trip insurance was not that expensive. However, if you would have made trip insurance option a part of your total trip package, you probably would not have made your post.

Just a note...other hunters have been forced to forgo a paid safari due to health issues.
Yes, they were out both Flight cost and safari costs. You see these individuals did not purchase trip insurance. However they did not post there story on AH for all to see.

By the way, i just checked Gracy Travel web site and Gracy Travel offers their clients "Travel Guard", i take it you did not purchase this option?
 

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I don't see this as a smear campaign,

This is the quote I was referring to, I don't see any other way to take it.

Of course the other recourse is to file a BBB complaint, send an e-mail detailing all of this to every outfitter I know and to every hunter I know. Next, to post a detailing of all of this to all DSC & HSC members then to post it on every web-site I can find relating to African hunting. Great thing for me is that I own several companies and have an admin who I can assign these tasks to and it takes none of my time and costs me nothing. Your choice.

Gary L Gardner
:mad:
 

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The purpose of the post is to inform others of both my mistakes so they don't repeat them and to allow fellow hunters to see the correspondence between myself and Gracy Travel so they can form their own opinions about whether this is a company they would like to do business with. This is my first safari and frankly the whole travel piece of it has been somewhat intimidating. Fears of getting stuck in SA or Zim because of a problem with paperwork or permits is real for the first time safari goer. Picking the right travel agent and paying a hefty booking fee was justified for me, I thought, because I wanted someone to shepherd me through the entire process. I don't feel I got what I paid for, but you can make your own determinations. I think I very clearly outlined my position in the e-mails.

That being said, ultimately the responsibility was with me to calendar the event (and good point that I should have had my admin do it!) Travel insurance. I致e never paid for it before but I guess it takes an event like this one to realize you致e just been lucky to this point. Hope someone learns from that in a less costly way than I did!!

I have relayed all of the e-mails so you can make your own opinion rather than write a summary that could be view as slanted . I did not edit nor omit anything to jaundice or skew opinion. I clearly included Gracy's responses so that their viewpoint could be heard as well. Because of that I don't believe it is a smear campaign. Rather it is what I would want someone to convey on a forum such as this so that I could learn from others mistakes.
 

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Sure sounds like travel insurance would have helped in this case.... Always hope you won't need it, but.... I'm using Gracy for my trip because my cousin has used them before and we're traveling together. They've been nothing bit professional, in my case.

I'm not sure what else they were supposed to do here. And I can say this, they stayed nicer than I could have managed after after being threatened with a smear campaign by a man who owns "several companies" and has a secretary. Who cares? I also personally don't put much credence into any "reviewer" who joins a forum or reviewing platform to just to say how badly they were treated.

Just my two cents and probably not worth that much.
 

glgardnerjr

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I also personally don't put much credence into any "reviewer" who joins a forum or reviewing platform to just to say how badly they were treated.

Glad they've been good for you to this point. Just to clarify, I've been a member since Feb 2012 when I found this site and started using it to learn as I prepped for my first safari.
 

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This is the quote I was referring to, I don't see any other way to take it.

I get your interpretation.
But, the OP admits his responsibility and does not slant or name call. That is usually what I think of as a smear campaign.

[Review any political speech during an election, save for our last Federal Election that ran over Christmas where they focused on an issue for a week until they got back to mud slinging. :)]

The purpose of the post is to inform others of both my mistakes so they don't repeat them ........
and to allow fellow hunters to see the correspondence between myself and Gracy Travel so they can form their own opinions about whether this is a company ...........
I think I very clearly outlined my position in the e-mails.

I wish more people would share what they learned. If Gracy staff chose to view their service done and paid for at ticketing I have personally been operating under a misguided notion myself.

I experienced very similar behaviour to what is described here from a travel agency. Staff changes, failure to notify of flight changes by the carrier, etc. Not impressed. There excuse; "Their was plenty of time"
Since they did not know my entire life circumstance how could they know.


That being said, ultimately the responsibility was with me to calendar the event (and good point that I should have had my admin do it!) Travel insurance. I致e never paid for it before but I guess it takes an event like this one to realize you致e just been lucky to this point. Hope someone learns from that in a less costly way than I did!!

Good point. Most people rely on past luck.

I have relayed all of the e-mails so you can make your own opinion rather than write a summary that could be view as slanted . I did not edit nor omit anything to jaundice or skew opinion. I clearly included Gracy's responses so that their viewpoint could be heard as well. Because of that I don't believe it is a smear campaign. Rather it is what I would want someone to convey on a forum such as this so that I could learn from others mistakes.

I appreciate it.
 

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glgardnerjr ~

Being in direct competition with Gracy Travel and understanding the situation from both sides of the fence, I thought I would put in my two cents' worth! Not knowing your health situation at the time that caused the trip cancellation, if it was due to a medical reason where the Dr. would not allow you to travel then I have seen the airlines make a refund on a "non-refundable" ticket with the correct medical documentation. I have referred clients directly to Delta in cases like this to plead their case. This is for those that did not take out the trip cancellation insurance. Not sure if your case was substantiated medically or if it's too late to get a refund by Delta but might be worth a phone call to them. Trip insurance might have helped you out if it was a "covered" reason on their plan. I also use Travel Guard and have had many clients receive refunds for cancellation of their flights and safari through this company.

All tickets/airlines are different regarding their rules so it's a case by case basis. For some the credit can be used if new travel is completed by original date of ticket issue and others can be used for future travel as long as they are reissued prior to original date of ticket issue. Most all airlines will have a penalty for using the ticket credit.


EXHIBITING AT:

SCI National Hunters Convention February 5 8, 2014, Las Vegas, NV, Booth #4424
 

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To me, this is the problem with most companies today. Weather you re purchasing insurance on a new TV for $30 or $6 a month in case my satellite box brakes that they provide so I can purchase their monthly service. I would much rather see a company back their product. Stand behind what you do. I am not taking one side or the other. I can see the responses that you provided above. But there is a lot more to this story that is not being provided. This looks to be just the tail end. To make a decision on this particular issue would be like executing someone after only hearing one side of a story. glgardnerjr, I am not saying you are wrong or you didn't get taken on this deal. I just don't know the entire story. That being said, I bought the insurance for my trip. Really didn't want to, but it is a lot of money to just loose. On a side note, I used Lori from above and had no issues. So I would recommend her hands down.
 

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I do understand the OP frustration. In my case I was also treated poorly by the same former employee of Gracy. In my case I just could not get a response from the employee to emails or phone calls. I didn't have the same results only because I made myself a pain in the ass for everybody at Gracy until I got results, it wasn't easy, and I should't have had to go to such extremes to get my trip taken care of. Gracy is lucky that employee is no longer there, I will still use a travel agent this year for my trip, but I won't be them.
There is a moral, don't ever assume you going to get what you paid for and expect. Trust but verify, check and recheck.
 

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Gary,

First, sorry you have had this problem.

Second, thanks for sharing your story. We can all learn from it.

Thirdly, don't let this bad experience jade your African hunting experience.

Finally, I hope you and your son have a fantastic first hunt to Africa!

All the best.
 

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I don't know much about margins in the travel agency business, but what little I do know tells me it would be ruinous for a travel agency to "take the high road" and just refund the fare in a situation like this. I can appreciate your issue, Gary, since you thought someone else was watching the expiry date, but I also agree with you that ultimately it was your responsibility. Travel insurance - which I have never bought (but am now rethinking) would have solved the issue.

I am a little surprised to read Lori Spears' message. If an airline will refund a non-refundable fare if there is a valid medical reason for not travelling, I wonder what the advantage of buying insurance would be. Now I note she says they might - but I have to say, if it was my business, I'd say that's what insurance is for.

I appreciate you posting all of the e-mail exchanges - from what I can see, I think Gracy handled this pretty well.

Good luck with the hunt. Lots of trouble to this point, but once you are over there, it will be quickly forgotten, I have no doubt.

I have
 
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glgardnerjr

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Hank,

I agree on their margins but I would say is this. The girl who did the booking made $70.00 on the transaction per ticket (that's what I was told). Were it my company a refund of $230 (so I break-even before overhead) would have been a minimal offering. At that point customer would have still been upset at what they perceived as a "dropped ball" by not calling as the customer felt he had been promised. However, at least the customer would have felt like a gesture was made.

Being told

"I am happy to give you Meliza's new place of work and you can call her since you feel she took care of you and the problem is due to the fact she is no longer at Gracy Travel."


by the owner of the company really felt like an f'you to me. Maybe wasn't intended that way but I can tell you it felt that way. Also, would have liked a phone call at some point to discuss and smooth over versus e-mail. Never got that either. I did try to call Debbie Gracy but was never able to get her on the phone.

Once the expiration date had passed really not much that could be done without cooperation from Delta. Gracy did try to plead their/my case to Delta but go no where with them.
 

Hank2211

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Hank,

I agree on their margins but I would say is this. The girl who did the booking made $70.00 on the transaction per ticket (that's what I was told). Were it my company a refund of $230 (so I break-even before overhead) would have been a minimal offering. At that point customer would have still been upset at what they perceived as a "dropped ball" by not calling as the customer felt he had been promised. However, at least the customer would have felt like a gesture was made.

Agreed.
 

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