Below is the text of a letter I sent to John Mullen, President of Apple Vacations and their response.
4380 Bunting Ln
Columbus, IN 47203
January 6, 2007
Mr. John Mullen
P.O. Box 6500
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Dear Mr. Mullen,
I am writing to let you know of the extreme disappointment my family and I have with Apple Vacations and our local travel agency, Destinations Travel. We just returned from a December 28, 2006 through January 4, 2007 vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico booked through Destinations and Apple. However, had we known the changes Apple would make to our arrangements and lack of support from Destinations, we would NEVER have booked this vacation.
Our original flight plans (flight 420) were to leave Cincinnati at 11:00 am which would have allowed a 7:30 am departure from our home. Our return flight (FLIGHT 421) from Cancun was to leave at 2:20 pm giving us the morning to enjoy breakfast and a final walk on the beach at the hotel. Your company saw fit to not only change our return flight time but also our departure time. Had we know the flight would leave at 7:30 am from Cincinnati, OH we would never have booked this vacation since it is a two hour drive from our home, and Apple Vacations suggests we arrive two hours early. We would have had to leave home at 3:30 am to meet your suggestion.
The return flight (flight 411) was changed to 10:50 am requiring us to be checked out and at the pick up point at 5:50 am. This not only robbed us of our last morning in Mexico but also disrupted our final evening due to the need to rise so early to meet the pick up. This flight also went to Cleveland and then to Cincinnati requiring us to travel until nearly 6:00 pm that day... over 12 hours... just to get to Cincinnati (a normal 2.5 hour flight from Cancun). The bus did not arrive at the pick up point until 6:30 am. When I asked at the airport about getting on the Cincinnati flight, I was told by USA3000 that Apple would have to approve it. When I asked the Apple representative, I was referred to a supervisor. When he checked a list of flights he said, there would be a charge, and he would have to call for approval. I told him I did not intend to pay for a change when Apple made the change originally. He then asked for the original documents before he would call. We did not have the original documents with us, and it was obvious he had no intention of making the call. I gave up extremely frustrated.
The flight from Cleveland was on a 19 passenger prop plane operated by Continental. It hardly met your claim of non-stop vacation flight on new, technically advanced Airbus A-320s providing state-of-the-art aircraft for transportation.
Despite the early pick up, there was no food offered to us until we were on the flight to Cleveland. Then it was a small sandwich. By the time we reached Cincinnati, that was all that we had to eat and it was 6:30 pm (more than 12 hours since we were supposed to be picked up).
Further, while all of this is upsetting, it is infuriating to know that you chose to withhold this information from us until last week before the trip even though the flights were changed the first of December. This made it impossible for us to reschedule to another vacation for our family. I consider this a blatant act since Apple owns USA3000 and knew far in advance of the planned flight changes.
The bottom line is Apple and its charter service USA3000 failed miserably in providing the transportation service we were led to believe was part of the package for which we signed up.
As a result of all the changes, we had to stay the night in Cincinnati, board our pets an extra day, and disrupt our Christmas celebration plans with our children and our stay in Mexico. For all of this inconvenience, you gave us $100 per person. That does not begin to compensate us for the inconvenience and the additional cost we incurred. The additional costs for the hotel rooms in Cincinnati, dinner, and boarding our pets (2 dogs and a cat) for an additional night was $500. The inconvenience compensation should not only reflect the disruption to our plans and vacation but also penalize Apple for this obvious disregard for us, your customers. I believe an additional $400 per person plus reimbursement of our additional expenses would better reflect Apple’s understanding of this inconvenience.
Without this compensation, I assure you the six members of my family and I will NEVER use Apple Vacations or Destinations Travel again and will actively share our disappointment with our family, friends and various travel internet review sites. If you are as customer oriented as your literature suggests, you know that a vocal, dissatisfied customer will cost a company in future sales many times any compensation provided to reduce the dissatisfaction.
cc: Destinations Travel, 2780 N. National Rd, Columbus, IN 47201
Arnie Weissmann, Editor in Chief, Travel Weekly, email@example.com
BBB of Metro Washington DC & Eastern Pennsylvania, 1411 K St. NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005-3404
Apple's response to the above letter was:
February 14, 2007
4380 Bunting Ln
Columbus, IN 47203
RE: CVGCUN20061228CL07 Steele #15777911
Dear Ms. Steele,
"We are in receipt of your correspondence in regards to your Apple Vacation to Riviera Maya Resort.
Please be assured that we have a very deep concern for serving our clients and the travel professional community and we are committed to offering quality service in the travel industry.
APPLE VACATIONS deeply regret that we found it necessary to inconvenience you by making a schedule change. Although we try to minimize the impact of a schedule change, it seems that it can affect some vacationers' plans more than others. Please understand, however, that APPLE VACATIONS can all airlines, including charter and scheduled airline carriers, reserve the right to reschedule and/or reroute flights For this reason, we will stand by the compensations which was previously issued." ($100 per person) "Unfortunately, we are not able to provide the reimbursement you are requesting as glight times are subject to change.
We appreciate you taking the time to write to us. APPLE VACATIONS is considered America's favorite vacation company, therefore you feedback whether positive or negative is very important to us. In spite of this incident, it is our hope that all other aspects of you APPLE VACATION was a positive and memorable experience. Also, we hope that you will reconsider choosing APPLE VACATIONS when planning your future leisure travel needs.
Customer Care Department
Cc: Destinations Travel
2780 North National Road
Columbus, IN 47201"