Arizona Daily Wildcat March 10, 1998
Student warns against some spring break dealsA spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale or Mazatlan is a student's dream - except for UA graduate Matthew Rosenmayer, who was stranded in Cancun last year.
Rosenmayer, in a quest for the perfect adventure, surfed the Internet and came across Student Express' home page, which claimed to be "the Spring Break Pros."
Despite the "110 percent lowest price guarantee, NO RISK - satisfaction guarantee" advertised at http://www.studentexpress.com, Rosenmayer said he had to pay an extra $550 to return home after his charter flight was canceled.
Vacation package prices are not listed on the Web site.
After 10 months of writing letters, conversing with Associated Students legal adviser Susan Ferrell and legally threatening the company, he was reimbursed $150.
"I am probably never going to get the rest of the money," Rosenmayer said.
Rosenmayer said his troubles began when he was supposed to have plane tickets and hotel vouchers in hand two weeks before leaving, but he did not receive anything until three days prior to take-off.
"I was told it's coming, it's coming (by Student Express). It was just ridiculous," Rosenmayer said. "Going and coming home was the problem. The good thing was the white sands of Cancun's beaches were unbelievable and the night clubs were insane."
Rosenmayer had to wait in the Kansas City, Mo., airport for nine hours on his way to Cancun while his charter flight was delayed. Rosenmayer said he still has not received an explanation for the wait.
Student Express President Jim Moldane said charter flights are often one-half the cost of regular flights because passengers travel in groups, typically college students, to a particular destination.
Customers sign a contract explaining they have to wait that if their charter flight is late.
"The contract is that they are entitled to nothing (when charter flights are delayed or canceled)," Moldane said. He also said the contract is common and regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Despite Rosenmayer's hopes for an easier trip home, he said his charter flight leaving Cancun the following Saturday was completely canceled - again with no official reason.
"An airport employee told us if we had plastic (a credit card) he would advise us to use it," Rosenmayer said.
"In this particular case, errors were made by Sun Pacific International during booking," Moldane said.
Student Express is now suing Sun Pacific International, the airline Rosenmayer took, for over $1 million, Moldane said.
"If we win litigation, we will try to pay back those affected and do what is right," Moldane said.
Sun Pacific representatives did not respond to repeated phone calls seeking comment.
Ferrell could not comment on that specific case because she advised Rosenmayer on the matter, but she urges students to use caution when dealing with package-deal vacations.
"I would advise students to not go on a package trip - go through a reliable travel agency," Rosenmayer said. "They should know what they are getting into before paying, look over all the information when it is received and read it carefully before giving a check or a credit card number. Investigate it," he said.
Marsha Varney, a UA alumna and Tucson travel agent, gave this advice: "You initiate the inquiry, do not send money or a credit card number to telemarketers over the phone and throw away what (the advertisements) comes in the mail, you can't go wrong."