Holiday takes off after booking bungle

Katharina Krux and her boyfriend had their bags packed and ready for their overseas holiday when they got the bad news that the company, Busabout, which owns the tour company, Contiki, no longer had their booking.

The Pinelands resident said she got nowhere with Busabout after battling for weeks.

“In early February I went to STA Travel in Cavendish to book the tour but the agent, Melissa Birch, had difficulty getting a departure date for June 27, so I sent an enquiry directly to Busabout who told me that they had places and Ms Birch made the necessary arrangements with Busabout. We paid the deposit when we went to book it with STA. A few days later she confirmed the booking and everything was sorted.

“After booking our flights and making our other travel arrangements we went back to STA to pay the balance and I asked Ms Birch about a discount that Busabout had offered so we didn’t pay that day. A week later Ms Birch told us that Busabout didn’t have our booking. I have sent emails and have had multiple phone conversations with Ms Birch as well as the regional manager at Busabout to find out what went wrong. However, no one has been able to give me an explanation. The situation has been handled poorly by STA and Busabout. Each one blames the other. Busabout says the booking auto-cancelled because they didn’t receive confirmation of the deposit. Melissa said she explicitly told them that we had paid,” said Ms Krux.

Ms Krux explained that it was a frustrating exercise.

“I also feel unfairly treated because Busabout is trying to bully me into taking the next best alternative, which is two days later, but then we would have to change all our plans, flights included. Busabout is now saying they ‘don’t liaise directly with clients’. We have paid R15 650 each for the Busabout tour, excluding flights. Please help.”

I contacted STA and Busabout and like magic Ms Krux and her partner got the booking they wanted.

Devon Garner of STA confirmed that Ms Krux tried to book a Busabout tour through STA but when she couldn’t get the date she wanted she contacted Busabout directly and “was informed that two spaces had become available due to customers cancelling”.

“Ms Krux told Ms Birch, who called the Busabout reservations team to confirm those last two seats. At this point Busabout confirmed the booking. Later Busabout said they cancelled the booking because ‘they were not advised’ about the payment.

“But they reinstated Ms Krux and her partner for the departure date,” Mr Garner said.

Jessica Clarke, brand manager for Busabout, said Ms Krux approached STA to book the tour and was unable to get the departure date she wanted.

“She called us directly and as we work with a live system and two cancellations had occurred we were able to assist with this departure. STA was informed and the booking was made with them. Ms Krux paid her deposit to STA. We received the booking but not the payment, as result the booking auto-cancelled. We had two last minute cancellations on the original trip date and we have accommodated Ms Krux and her travel companion,” Ms Clarke said.

Ms Krux accepted the two places that opened. “I am just happy that we will not have to worry about the departure date anymore. I would really like to have known what happened. It is a pity that everyone involved refused to take responsibility and we were treated the way we were. I didn’t feel like anyone from Busabout was showing empathy and we never received any genuine apology. At least now my boyfriend and I can look forward to a great holiday. Thanks a lot.”