Clark On TV

The perils of student travel clubs

Clark Howard, WSB-TV consumer adviser

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It’s the third week in August, and the kids are back in school. The farthest thing from a parent’s mind should be next summer’s vacation, Right? Wrong. Right now student travel groups are signing up high school seniors for June 2001 trips. Tonight in his special assignment, consumer adviser Clark Howard has a consumer alert for student travel vacations.

Kelley Kinlaw, student: Once you got there, you realized you were getting screwed.

Ricky Donafrio, student: Everyone wanted to go home bad.

Carol Tate, parent: I couldn’t drive and get my child, I had to sit and wait.

Every summer I get calls here on my radio show from frantic parents whose kids are stuck in a student travel mess. This year calls flooded in about a company called Class Travel International.

Class Travel Intl., a California based company, sold high school students all over Atlanta a senior trip to Cancun. The premium package included airfare, 7 nights hotel, 3 meals a day and special parties, all for less than $600. But students say the premium package had some grade A problems.

All of the Atlanta students we spoke to were booked at the Continental Villas, but not one of them got to stay there. While they were in an orientation meeting, the kids’ luggage was unloaded at a hotel called the Piramides. The Piramides isn’t listed in any class travel package.

Travarious McIssick, student: He told us it was a 6 Star hotel.

Trajan Waters, student: There was 4 people to a room, and there wasn’t but 2 twin size beds.

The hotel wasn’t the only change. Down in the lobby, class travel was selling add-on packages. A food package, an adventure package, and a Club package.

Kelly Kinlaw: I got the party package because they told us, you know,

you wouldn’t be able to do anything because all your friends would be

going to these clubs, so I spent 140 dollars.

It clearly states on class travel’s website that a bunch of parties are suppposed to be free. And as for those free meals?

Trajan Waters: they were saying we would have to pay an extra $180 to get adult upgraded, which we already paid for as stated right here on our hotel voucher.

Trajan finally got his free meal coupons, but couldn’t use them.

Trajan Waters: they said this one is no good. They said it was from last year.

Trajan had to pay for his meal. Those who did get the free meals, didn’t get much.

Travoris McIssick: You only have 1 drink per meal, anything over that you have to pay for.

That’s not all they had to pay for. The hotel tried to charge them for dirty towels.

Kelley Kinlaw: 5 dollars a towel, and some had 10 towels on their bill.

The parents say the $600 packages ended up costing well over $1000. So what does Class Travel International have to say about the problems and added costs? Nothing. None of our 20 phone calls or messgaes resulted in even a call back. They may not want to talk, but the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs sure did.

Barry Reid: If everything we are hearing is true, it was poorly managed at the very least, and deceptive at the most, and yeah, that’s a big concern.

So big that they have issued a consumer alert on Class Travel International, to all Georgia high schools.

These parents have a warning of their own.

Carol Tate: Do your research, find out about these companies, because this was one of the most horrible experiences my child has ever endured.

Class Travel International has an unsatisfactory business record with the Better Business Bureau. But they’re not alone.