APICO Cruises Complaint - Very Poor Service - Travel Agency

Review by Mbuun on 2008-08-02
HOLLIS, NEW YORK -- Hello, and thank you for your attention.

My name is Bryan Coles. Back in March of this year my wife, Etheline (Lyn,) and I were searching for airline tickets to get to Dominica in October. We contacted APICO Cruises & Tours, Inc. and spoke with them about buying two round-trip tickets for $795.00 a ticket to lock in a good price. They stressed that we send the money as soon as possible to catch this deal, so we express mailed two money orders via USPS to APICO immediately for the sole purpose of purchasing and locking in the ticket prices. Due to American Airlines schedule changes and flight cancellations, we continued to call APICO and check on the status of the tickets. We were repeatedly told that everything was fine and that the status of our tickets hadn't changed because we had chartered flights to Dominica. We even asked for the flight itinerary and were told by APICO that no itinerary would be available this far away from the flight date. This started giving me doubts about APICO, because I know that when I buy a ticket online, an itinerary is immediately available. To my understanding, situations about the itinerary schedule may change, but the prices shouldnít change on already purchased tickets.

Months later, on or about the 24th of July, we received a letter and documentation from APICO about the flight cancellations at American Airlines and a request for $388.00 more per ticket, ($776.00 for two tickets). to be sent to APICO 10 days after receiving the letter to retain these tickets. Notice the repeated urgency that we send them money. We were upset to say the least. When I called APICO, the conversation went something like this:

APICO: APICO, this is Hillier
Bryan: Hi, this is Bryan Coles, Ethelineís husband.
APICO:Yes, so you got my letter?
Bryan: YesÖ
APICO: So, do you want a refund or what?
APICO: Hello?
Bryan: Did you not buy the tickets back in March?
APICO: No, they were a block of tickets.
Bryan: (sigh) Alright, send me a refund, but I need it as soon as possible so that I can make arrangements for another flight. Is there any way I can get that money by Friday?
APICO: Alright.

Give or take some words, thatís how the first call went. I was extremely frustrated at her nonchalant attitude towards this situation, but I just wanted my money back so that I could deal with someone else I could trust. Four months had passed by and our money was sitting in her lap rather than being used to secure our flights. Soon after that phone call, my wife told me that she had found more tickets on Priceline and that if we acted quickly, we could get travel plans to Dominica for about $300 more total and with layovers in Barbados going and coming. Rooms would be about $100 a night. Weíre talking an upwards estimate of $500.00 or so total as opposed to Hillierís $776.00 option. The flights we found were still American Airlines flights, with a switch over to Liat Airlines. I called APICO again the next day, Wednesday morning:

APICO: APICO, this is Hillier
Bryan: Hi, Hillier, this is Bryan again.
Bryan: Is there any way that you could send the money by Thursday? We found some other arrangements, but we really need to act fast on it because the ticket prices are going up daily.
Hillier: OK, Iíll send it to you. Look for it on Thursday.
Bryan: OK, thanks.

Later, I realized that Hillier hadnít given me a mail service or tracking number to look for, so I called back to ask her for that information:

Hillier: APICO, this is Hillier
Bryan: Hi, Hillier, this is Bryan again. What should I be looking for on Thursday when the refund comes?
Hillier: Ö
Bryan: FedEx, UPSÖ?
Hillier: What did we say yesterday that I was going to do?
Bryan: Mail a refund.
Hillier: What is the address we have on file? Hold onÖ
(long pause while the sound of papers being pushed around is heard in the background.)
Hiller: I donít have your address, give me your address again.
Bryan: (another sigh), Well, it might be cheaper and quicker to just Western UnionÖ
Hillier: I donít have time to Western Union the money.
Bryan: I donít have time to deal with incompetent people who canít do their job!

Needless to say, the conversation kept going downhill from there with a lot of shouting. I gave her my address again and demanded that she overnight my money, which she refused to do. I told her to send me my money or Iíll call the police and hung up. This was, July 30, 2008

Currently, Iím waiting to see if they will even send the $1,590.00 to us at all, which I highly doubt seeing as how my wife and I had given them our address several times, APICO promised to send the money and didnít even have the address on file. (But they conveniently had the address when they wanted to send letters requesting more money.)

Weíve had to borrow money to buy tickets from Liat, and will probably have to do the same for the American Airlines flights if APICO doesnít do the right thing and send us our money soon. This trip is very important, being that my wife hasnít been home in over 16 years to see her family and almost all of them will be in one place at the same time, a very rare occasion.

At this point, I donít know what else I can do after searching for APICO on the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce websites, on neither of which APICO appears. Iíve also contacted Consumer Affairs who sent out a form for me to fill out. Of course, these are things that I should have done to begin with and I wouldnít have to deal with this situation at all.

Thanks again for your attention.


Bryan A. Coles
Etheline R. Prince-Coles
Comments:1 Replies - Latest reply on 2008-08-02
Posted by Slimjim on 2008-08-02:
Search NY's Division of Corporations for the company and if not there, search DBAs If you can't verify them, you should include that in the form to Consumer Affairs, which you should definitely complete and submit.

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