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The Old Bait And Switch....
By -

National Lampoon'€™s may find the Honeymoon from Hell quite humorous, but for those who have actually gone through a bad travel experience, the humor is lost. On November 16th, 2008 my husband of a day and I began our journey to the Atlanta airport with high hopes of a wonderful honeymoon. We planned a wonderful trip through Travel Impressions, paying up front for an Ocean View Junior Suite with 24-hour room service, private Jacuzzi, champagne welcome and All-Inclusive adults only package at the brand new Majestic Elegance Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

We received a phone call from our travel agent two days before departure alerting us that the Majestic Elegance had delayed their opening but had arranged for an equivalent resort with the same amenities for us to stay in. As a consolation we would be offered a complimentary 3 night return stay. A little disappointed but assured we would have everything we requested and paid for, we kept our plans.

After a seamless wedding ceremony and reception, you can imagine our dismay when our luck began to run out as we discovered upon arrival in Punta Cana that Delta had not put our luggage on our non-stop flight to the Dominican. We waited for over 45 minutes with several other people until they closed the luggage belt. No one informed us that many pieces of luggage had not arrived; instead we were forced to seek out answers ourselves.

The customer service we received from the Delta agents at the Punta Cana airport left much to be desired. No one seemed to have any answers and rather than getting an apology or an explanation we were asked to fill out forms for missing luggage and told they didn'€™t know where it was or when it would arrive. There was no offer of vouchers or overnight bags to provide those who did not receive any luggage. We were sent away without so much as a toothbrush. Attempting to keep our spirits high, we tried to focus our thoughts on the wonderful resort we would be heading to.

Upon arrival at the Grand Bahia Principe in Punta Cana, we were dropped off at one of the many lobbies in the complex. We were told at the reception desk that we would need to check in at a separate lobby, and were shuttled to it. When we arrived there we waited for 15 minutes before anyone acknowledged our presence. We were then told to wait at the bar while they checked us in. Over thirty minutes later we approached the reception desk to find a representative for the Majestic Elegance attempting to handle our check-in. Almost an hour after arrival we received a room key and a shuttle to our room.

As soon as we entered the room we immediately realized it was nowhere near "€œequivalent"€ to what we purchased. The room was a one bedroom with a view of a construction site, 16"€ Television, and a small bathroom that had not been cleaned. The room had no available room service, no Jacuzzi, no complimentary robes or champagne welcome. We immediately returned to the front desk to inform them we wanted to switch rooms to get what we paid for. Surely there had been a mistake. The mistake, we found, was trusting Travel Impressions and the Majestic Elegance to honor their promises of equivalent accommodations.

We were told at the reception desk that there were no more rooms in the hotel, unless we wanted to pay for an upgrade to a section of the resort that did receive room service. When we realized they wanted us to pay again for what we had already paid for and had been promised we would receive. Bait and Switch came to mind. We immediately called our travel agents with Travel Impressions. Once again, we were told that no other rooms were available and we would have to wait to see if something opened up.

After the horrible customer service we received at the Grand Bahia and from the Majestic Elegance representative, we did not want to stay. So within hours of arriving we arranged for a change of flight for us to leave the following morning. After another several hours of receiving poor customer service, we checked out of the Grand Bahia and headed towards the airport. We boarded a flight to New York, then another flight from New York to Atlanta. It'€™s sad to think you would be so happy to be home from your honeymoon after only one day.

Once arriving in Atlanta we made our way to the Baggage Claim center (whom we contacted earlier in the day to hold our bags from being sent to Punta Cana). We dealt with a pleasant employee who could not locate our luggage and offered us a measly $50 voucher for our next flight with Delta as condolence for our troubles. We have been without luggage for well over 48 hours, with no explanation or apology from Delta, who instead had the audacity to give us vouchers towards our next trip. As if there would be one.

During all of this, Travel Impressions told us that we would be receiving a full refund. It was only until later that evening that we were told via email that our refund would be $1968, almost half of the original package price of $3692.80. When we purchased the package on September 25, 2008, there was no differentiation or distinction of airfare vs. hotel costs.

While we did use the airfare, had we known the experience would have been such a disaster and left us feeling deceived, we would not have done so. Had we been given adequate notice or accurate expectations of what to expect we could have easily made other arrangements with the same Travel Agency. Instead we were given promises that were left unfulfilled, and now, on our third day of marriage, we sit at home waiting for response from the Travel Agency and Delta.

We have left several messages with Travel Impressions, and have yet to hear back from them regarding the full refund that was promised and is expected. We have yet to hear from Delta about where our bags are or when we can expect to get them back. On our third day of marriage our hopes for a magnificent and romantic honeymoon are dashed and what was supposed to be the time of our lives has turned into something we hope we can someday forget.

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