Contact 2: Honeymoon ruined by failing travel business

ST. LOUIS – Mike and Lisa Tiff will celebrate their first anniversary in September; a dream they planned to continue with a honeymoon to French Polynesia.

“We had researched several companies. We discovered Custom Tahiti Travel. Looked like a very reputable company. I looked them up on different websites. They had excellent reviews,” Lisa said.

So the couple booked a trip. But first, they had to make a non-refundable down payment of $2,100, plus an additional $1,000 for travel insurance.

“We received communication back from him in a very timely manner. Everything was on the up and up. We had all our questions answered,” Lisa said.

They paid their final balance of $9,280 in mid-September. But 12 days later they received a shocking email.

“I came across an email from Custom Tahiti Travel saying all trips were suspended,” Lisa said. “Any currently booked trips are canceled. ‘We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.’”

It was a devastating blow. A few days later, the Tiffs got an email from the company, saying any further communications should be directed to the Cedar Rapids, Iowa law firm of Day, Rettig, and Martin.

That’s where Contact 2’s Mike Colombo went looking for answers. Colombo discovered the failure of a once successful business now unable to pay its debts.

Attorney Ronald Martin told Colombo this wasn’t a case of fraud, where the owners fleeced the corporation and ran off with the money. He said added competition and the travel ban hurt business. With the company bleeding money, Martin said the owners had to shut it down, knowing it would leave customers in a lurch.

“It makes us sick. It’s disgusting. And I know we’re not the only ones. We want our money back,” Lisa said.

The Tiffs got their money back. Not from Custom Tahiti Travel but thanks to the trip insurance policy the purchased.

Attorney Ronald Martin said his firm continues its attempts to recoup money it says Custom Tahiti is owed by vendors so it can distribute it to creditors. Avoiding situations like this as a consumer is tough, especially without any warning signs. Paying with a credit card and buying travel insurance are two ways to protect yourself.

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