Denver travel technology company Fresh Trips is getting burned on social media after failing to deliver on a vacation package to Cancun it sold in a Cyber Monday sale.
was an online promotion. It was a very good price," said Larry Gallis, who booked the Fresh Trips package — a $969 all-inclusive week in a suite at the Royal Haciendas in the Riviera Maya — along with a group of friends. "It almost seemed too good to believe. Apparently it was too good to believe."
The company, which opened in March, is being besieged by more than 150 angry customers who booked the trips.
Fresh Trips promised to confirm their reservations 30 days before travel, but many complained they still hadn't heard from the company as their departure dates neared. Some tried to confirm directly with the resorts they thought they were booked into — like The Royal Sands & Spa or the Royal Haciendas — only to find there was no record of their booking.
"When consumers reach out to Royal Sands to inquire about their reservations, the hotel alerts the consumer they do not work with Fresh Trips and have never heard of the consumer before," Denver Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Erin O'Neill said. BBB has received nine complaints on Fresh Trips, six of those filed this month, along with 157 inquiries into the company's standing. "Consumers have claimed they are not able to get in contact with the business regarding their refunds."
O'Neill said BBB has sent Fresh Trips a "pattern of complaints" letter and is waiting for a response.
Fresh Trips CEO Timmy Wozniak said "issues on the inventory side" and a "breakdown in communication" with a wholesaler and Travelzoo, which promoted the Cancun packages, have forced him to send refunds to 160 of roughly 460 customers who bought packages.
"There are a lot of folks who don't understand that we are a technology-focused company and there's frustration that we are not responding like a travel company," said Wozniak, a serial entrepreneur who in 2014 launched Fresh Jets, a technology platform that offers discounted seats on charter jet flights. "We are addressing all our customers on a one-off basis."
Gallis and a group of 16 Cleveland friends paid for their week-long stay, which was to start Dec. 1. By the end of January they had not heard from Fresh Trips. They called and sent the company e-mails. The only response, Gallis said, asked for 48 hours to confirm their reservations.
Gallis and his friends dug a little deeper and found dozens of angry Fresh Trips customers posting on tripadvisor.com and the company's Facebook page, lambasting Fresh Trips as a scam.
Since early December, more than two dozen Facebook users have posted angry one-star reviews on the company's Facebook page.
Wozniak waded into the Tripadvisor mob Dec. 23, posting a letter urging patience as Fresh Trips dealt with demand for its Mexico holiday packages.
"We're all about great experiences, and it disappoints our stakeholders when we're associated with terms such as 'scam,' 'credibility issues' and 'legitimacy' when we've worked incredibly hard for the past year establishing the FreshTrips brand and tech product which has now served over 2,000 passengers in the last six months," Wozniak wrote.
Gallis and his group received notices last week that Fresh Trips had canceled their reservations and refunds were pending.
The group had booked flights and had to find other accommodations, Gallis said. "But it cost twice as much."
Gallis is still waiting for a refund. Wozniak said everyone whose trip was canceled will get their money back.
"We are working with everyone affected. There was a miscommunication on the inventory side, and unfortunately everything could not be fulfilled," Wozniak said.
Fresh Trips has booked more than 3,000 trips to resorts around Puerto Vallarta through a partnership with Travelzoo, he said. "We are 100 percent confident we will weather this."