Vayama.com / it was by far the worst experience I have
I just wanted to give a word of warning after an awful experience we had with Vayama through a deal found on a website. A website posted a deal for tickets to Thailand for three weeks through Vayama a while back and my boyfriend, a friend and I jumped at the chance to be able to afford to go. We booked our tickets back in June for about $850 and were eagerly awaiting our November 9th departure date.
I had been checking our flights regularly and at one point we did try to request to have our flights altered so we only had one stop on the way to Vancouver but this proved to be impossible through the company. A slight annoyance since in the past it's been easy to do this through airlines but we sucked it up and figured we'd deal with the 14 hour layover we had in our schedule.
Then the day before our trip, November 8th, I checked our flights. We were flying Vancouver to Shanghai with China Eastern and Shanghai to Bangkok with Sri Lankan Airlines. I noticed a change in the time of our flight to Bangkok and upon further inspection realized the flight left TWO hours before we arrived in Shanghai! We had received "Schedule Change" emails before from Vayama over just a twenty minute difference in a flight, but absolutely no contact was made to us regarding our initial flight being cancelled and a new flight now on a different day and inconveniently leaving before we arrived in Shanghai...
All three of us were on the phone with Vayama throughout the day and they were awful. The worst customer service I have ever experienced. We begged them to rebook the flights so we could grab a connection elsewhere, we asked if we could buy a one way ticket independently but were told if we were a no show for one of the flights it would cancel the rest of the flights on our way back home. The two options they gave us were either wait 45 hours in the airport for the next flight out to Bangkok or receive a refund.
I was warned by a co-worker of maybe needing a transit visa so I phoned the China embassy in Vancouver to get more information. I was informed if we were to spend 24 hours or more in China, whether in the airport or in the country, we would require a transit visa and it would take at least 48 hours to process at a cost of $400. However, our flight was leaving in less than 24 hours when we encountered this mess and originally we had a 12 hour layover. I asked what would happen if we boarded the flight anyways without the visa and the woman told me that once we would board our flight to Bangkok, officials would notice we were in China past 24 hours without the visa and according to the law would have to be sent back on the first flight out to Vancouver.
I wasn't sure if there may be an exception to this rule if we were in Shanghai and if there may be a way to work around it, but we weren't going to risk it. We had NO other option from Vayama but to get a refund.
We had already booked accommodations in Thailand and we'd be losing out on so much money if we didn't go. We luckily found a flight through a local travel agency that left at midnight that night. It'd be an extra $500 from what we originally paid but we figured we'd use most of the money from the refund we'd be getting from Vayama. BUT, we were told it would take 25-45 business days for the refund to be credited back to the original credit card. We were desperate, so we put three new tickets to Bangkok on a credit card and flew out that night.
Vayama was of no help during this entire ordeal. The three of us traveling phoned separately various times throughout the day hoping to get a different answer. We pleaded and begged to book us tickets through a different connecting city other than Shanghai and make up for this awful mistake on their part. What's horrifying to think is that we never would have seen this mistake if we didn't check our flights the day before. When we explained this to them it sounded like they couldn't care less and they offered no compensation or apologies whatsoever.
The cherry on top of all of this is we came home from our trip recently to find that only two of the three tickets were refunded on the credit card, so now we have a whole other ordeal ahead of us...
PLEASE DO NOT EVER USE VAYAMA! It was by far the worst experience I have, and probably ever will, experience in travel. I can't believe a company would be so unhelpful and unsympathetic to such a situation. If we weren't lucky enough to have a credit card to put three new tickets on we would have had our whole vacation canceled.
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