[Resolved] Gate 1 Travel — Racist Comments by Tour Director - Horrible Experience!
I booked the Portugal – Spain vacation as a high school graduation present for my son. The trip was scheduled June 8 - 22 and it was purchased for the two (2) of us for over $7, 000 with Gate 1 Travel. With the exception of Fatima Burgarin, Travel Director, the trip was good. Fatima failed miserably in providing exceptional customer service and she failed miserably in regional cultural sensitivity.
On the last night, during the farewell dinner, she proposed a Champaign toast. She said, “Iny Meany My Nemo, catch a “N” (The “N” word used to describe Black People/African – Americans) by his toe; if he squeals, let him go, Eny, meeny, miney, moe.” This is the racist version of the nursery rhyme. As our glasses were suspended in the air, I was in disbelief, hurt, confused, and embarrassed. My son and I were the only African-Americans among 40 phenomenal travelers. The lady sitting next to me who has a bi-racial daughter said, “Did she say what I thought she said? I responded yes, she did!”
The issue wasn’t that my son and I were the only African-Americans on the trip; however, the issue was that I didn’t pay $7, 000+ dollars to have a representative of Gate 1 to disassemble my entire experience with her lack of regional cultural sensitivity. The cultural insensitivity experienced caused me to have to console my son and to counsel him on the ignorance and embarrassment that was projected on him by Fatima’s remarks.
Upon our return, I went through the chain of command and wrote the Karina Avesian, Reservationist. She referred the complaint to Customer Service. After receiving an e-mail from Anne Saldutte, Customer Service, I wrote and submitted the complaint. One week passed and I didn’t receive any feedback, so I inquired about the status of the complaint. Days went buy and they said they are still looking into it. One week passed, and I requested to speak with the Customer Service Manager. I received a notice from Ann with an offer of $100.00 as a goodwill gesture for us being subjected to hearing the word “N” towards a future trip within the calendar year of 2017.
After receiving the e-mail from Anne, I then sent another e-mail. The e-mail stated, “I requested to speak with a manager, which was not granted. I will not accept $100.00 towards another trip. This further adds insult to the injury!” Days went by and I received a telephone call from Caitlin Spindler, Customer Service Manager, telling me that they apologize and can’t take back what was said by Fatima. I told her that the $100.00 goodwill gesture further adds insult to the wound. She then asked me to tell her what I wanted. I told her that they are a mega conglomerate company, and they needed to resolve the situation and to make it right for my son and me. We didn’t ask to be insulted while traveling with Gate 1 Travel. I didn’t pay $7, 000+ dollars to have my vacation ruined by Fatima Burgarin, Travel Director.
I sent a letter along with the e-mails to Dani Pipano, President and Marty Seslow, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Over two (2) weeks went by before I received a response. An e-mail was received from Caitlin Spindler, Customer Service Manager, pretty much re-stating was stated before. There was no resolve to this issue.
I will not recommend this company to anyone because they failed in providing exceptional customer services from the President down Customer Service when we needed them the most. You never know the potential of a company until you are met with a challenging experiences, like this one.
What we experienced changed the course of our vacation. To-date, we are still hurt and having extensive discussions on the matter. Apparently, Gate 1 Travel doesn’t provide regional cultural sensitivity training to the Travel Directors or exceptional customer service training. It’s apparent to me that they are not equipped to handle or be accountable when areas, like what we experienced, are breached. As a mother, I could not allow this experience to go undocumented and allowed my son to see what I wrote and the feedback received to allow him to see how some corporations can fail you, the customer, miserably as Gate 1 Travel has failed us on so many levels.
I decided not to go the legal route and to allow the public seeking reviews about Gate 1 Travel to hear my story and to make an informed decision prior to booking with the company. I have all of the e-mails and the letters sent to the Presidents to support this very toxic experience.
The question I have is how would you have handled the situation? How do you think that Gate 1 Travel should have handled the situation? How do you think that Gate 1 Travel should have compensated us?
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