Nova Scotia

Tour company customers face refund problems after cancelled trips

A small Halifax bus tour company is blaming its staff and system glitches after seven customers complained to CBC that they were owed refunds for tours that were cancelled months ago.

CD Tours has now refunded some customers, others awaiting refunds by mail

Edgar Cleveland in Central Park, one of the spots his group visited while in New York. (Charley Corkum)

A small Halifax bus tour company is promising reimbursements after seven customers complained to CBC that they were owed refunds for tours that were cancelled months ago.

CD Tours, which also goes by the name Carthage Dream Tours, blames staff, as well as system glitches, for the problems.

"Eleven days before we were supposed to leave I got an email that said due to not being able to fill the bus they cancelled the tour," Halifax resident Gary Rhodenizer said.

He had booked a tour for himself, wife and daughter to New York City for the 2018 Thanksgiving weekend for the Macy's Day Parade and Black Friday shopping.

Rhodenizer said the email promised to refund the money, although it would take up to eight business days. That email was dated Nov. 8, 2018, more than four months ago.

"That never ever happened," Rhodenizer said. "I made phone calls, emailed, I went to the BBB and it all failed," he said of the $1,797 he is owed.

Four others, travelling as a group, also said the company owes them money for cancelling their tour.

Gary Rhodenizer and his daughter, Lisa, attended a New York Jets football game on a previous visit to NYC with CD Tours. (Submitted by Gary Rhodenizer)

Charley Corkum, Edgar Cleveland, Julia DeWolfe and her daughter planned to travel to Boston in November 2018 to see the lighting of the Christmas tree sent from Nova Scotia.

They only discovered their tour was cancelled the day before it was scheduled to leave when they applied for travel insurance.

"The insurance company got ahold of CD Tours and they told them that the trip was cancelled," Corkum said.

Both he and Cleveland said they tried many times to contact CD Tours via email, Facebook messages, letter, fax and phone.

"There's a Halifax number and also a 1-800 number so I kept calling both and I would leave my number, but nobody got back to me," Corkum said, estimating he made at least 20 phone calls, if not more, to both numbers.

He said he did get one response saying his messages would be passed along, but he never heard anything more.

Julia DeWolfe and her friends visited several tourist attractions while on a previous CD Tours trip to New York. (Submitted by Edgar Cleveland)

The group paid deposits totalling nearly $400 by credit card.

They tried to pay the remainder online but the system wasn't working. They purchased bank drafts in October and dropped them off at the post office in a drug store where CD Tours has a mailbox.

The company has no office and does all of its business online.

The bank drafts have never been cashed and it is unclear what happened to them after they were left at the post office.

Previous trips 'great'

Rhodenizer and three of those in the other group had all previously travelled with CD Tours.

"I took three tours previously, two in 2017 and one in 2018, and there were no problems," Rhodenizer said. "Everything went off great and we had full trust with the company."

Corkum said his previous tours with the company also went off without a hitch.

Charlie Corkum and Julia DeWolfe in Central Park. (Edgar Cleveland)

His first trip with DeWolfe and Cleveland was to New York in the fall of 2015.

"That trip was wonderful and we were treated very well," he said. "So then we booked another trip in 2017. We went back to New York again in the summer. It was a very enjoyable trip also."

CD Tours owner Amine Saidane declined an interview and asked for additional information.

CBC provided him with emails to Rhodenizer from CD Tours confirming full payment. CBC also provided banking information on the deposits made for the other group.

By email, Saidane blamed his online booking system for the difficulty Rhodenizer experienced, saying the company is working to fix the system.

He has since refunded all of Rhodenizer's money and offered him a free trip.

As for the group of four, Saidane said since he did not receive their bank drafts, they violated the terms for final payment.

CD Tours advertises bus tours to the U.S. from the Maritimes. (CD Tours/Facebook)

But now that he has been provided with copies of the final payments by bank draft, which were made within the required time frame, he said he has issued a full refund of their deposit by mail.

"[The company] will be following up with them to ensure they receive their refund in the shortest delays and the most convenient way to them," he said.

Saidane said customers are encouraged to pay by money order, which is traceable.

He also said he had staffing issues which may have contributed to these problems.

Staff turnover partly to blame, says company

"Our team was traveling (sic) over the summer and we had a turnaround in the staff," he said. "This have caused a gap in the quality of our customer service and the transition was not as smooth as we had hoped."

He pointed out the company carries insurance for errors and omissions.

"We take great care of our travelers (sic) and their refunds," he said.

"Humans being what they are, our staff sometimes fails to handle things properly, or on time, and we make up for it. Always."

Rhodenizer says he's happy to have his money back.

The others say they, too, will be satisfied when their refunds arrive.

About the Author

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days she helps consumers navigate an increasingly complex marketplace and avoid getting ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca

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