Edmonton

Travellers forced to pay extra for hotel bills after Conquest shutdown

Some Edmontonians were among the Canadians who booked holidays through Conquest Vacations and were forced to pay thousands of dollars in hotel expenses after the company went out of business this week.

Some Edmontonians were among the Canadians who booked holidays through Conquest Vacations and were forced to pay thousands of dollars in hotel expenses after the company went out of business this week.

"You know, I felt like I was robbed," Nicole Heath said.

Heath and her husband Terry returned to Edmonton from Cancun, Mexico, on Thursday night.

With one day left in their vacation, the couple found a note slid under their hotel room door, telling them their bill had not been paid by Conquest Vacations, and they owed another $1,500 on top of the $3,200 they paid the travel company.

"We saved up for this," Nicole Heath said. "This was, you know, our honeymoon that we never had ... and it's not like we all have four grand to just flip over twice for the same thing."

On Wednesday, Conquest Vacations announced it was immediately closing its operations. 

On a statement on its website, the company said overcapacity in the travel industry, the credit crisis and the economy were behind the decision.

Brent Brownson arrived on the same flight as the Heaths on Thursday evening.

He said his hotel demanded $2,000 US from him.

"They said, 'You can try to leave, but we're just going to call the police and you'll have to pay anyway,' so that was it,"  he said.

Brownson was able to negotiate his bill down to $840 Cdn.

"Yeah, I know, I thought it was pretty rude, but what do you do?" he said. "For a bit there, it got pretty nasty in there and I was like, holy, people are getting mad. Tons of people arguing with them so I was like, whatever, just get me out of here."

Both Brownson and the Heaths said they will contact their travel agents in hopes of getting some of their money back.

Travellers in Ontario can get back some of their money through a special travel fund set up to protect them.

Alberta doesn't have this kind of fund because the government felt people could protect themselves by buying travel insurance, said Cam Traynor, spokesperson for Service Alberta.

Service Alberta can help give guidance to people if they have questions, he said.

With files from The Canadian Press

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