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Sometimes travel sucks! Accidents happen, flights are delayed and things just don’t go your way. Over the course of my six-week honeymoon, Lisa and I were bound to run into our own bit of bad luck. I’m going to cover a handful of the worst situations we encountered in this new series ~ “When Travel Sucks“. To kick things off, I’ll begin by breaking down how my evening was ruined thanks to a dinner cruise I booked through the Chase Travel Portal which didn’t exist!
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Dinner Cruise in Paris
One of the top things to do in Paris is to spend an evening cruising the Seine River. There are lots of options to choose from that include both meals and drinks. Based on my research, the best one is a dinner cruise that sets out before sunset so that you can witness Paris and the Eiffel Tower before and after it gets dark from the water. The price averages around $300 for two people which includes wine and 4 courses. Given that we are both basic and on an extended honeymoon, I turned to points & miles to help bring this excursion to life.
Chase Travel Portal
I found the exact dinner cruise that I had been looking for via the Chase Travel Portal for $234.96 total. One big advantage to using the Chase Travel Portal is that I am able to redeem my Ultimate Rewards for an extra 50% bonus thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card. This brought the total cost down to 15,664 Ultimate Rewards Points. I was really excited to find this great deal via the portal and booked it on our final evening in Paris as a special honeymoon surprise.
Chase Travel Portal Confirmation
It’s important to always read the confirmation emails that accompany booking any sort of travel via an OTA (Online travel agency). I reviewed the email thoroughly, noting that formal dress was required and boarding began 45 minutes prior to departure. My first problem came from this email and the fact that I shipped home ALL OF MY PANTS in Italy a few weeks prior. Thankfully I found a reasonably priced H&M that carried khakis in my size. This is the sort of crisis that is annoying but certainly preventable.
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Showing up for the Dinner Cruise
With my new pair of Khakis, I was ready to celebrate my honeymoon in style on the river in Paris. Lisa & I took a taxi in order to prevent any sort of delay that might have come from walking and potentially making a wrong turn. We showed up at the address specified in the confirmation email right on time and walked up to the cruise ship to get in line to board. When we made it to the front I provided the email confirmation to the host.
He looked at us and asked if we were here for the disco?
A disco? I replied that we clearly booked the four-course scenic dinner cruise and pointed at the name of the ship which matched my email. The host conferred with a colleague and said that the cruise hasn’t run in quite some time and that the booking agency should not have it listed. He then said that the whole ship has been converted into a nighty disco and does not even operate on the water anymore. At that moment I felt completely blind-sided. We had been looking forward to this dinner cruise all day long and were leaving the next day so there was no room to reschedule.
Calling Chase Travel Customer Service
At this point, I knew that I was in for a marathon with the Chase Travel customer service department. I held hope that there must be another cruise ship around and that I had simply made a mistake. Meanwhile, on hold, I knew from my research that there were a handful of other dinner cruise operators along the water. We decided to walk down and try to find one that we could possibly walk up and purchase tickets.
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51 Minutes later
I was on and off of hold for over 51 minutes with the Chase Travel Representative. She tried to make contact with the Cruise company but could not reach anyone for support. Ultimately nothing was resolved and I was told that my case would be escalated to a different department within a few days.
Meanwhile, on hold with the Chase Travel Agent, we stumbled upon a Paris river dinner cruise operator that was taking walk-ups. Despite the menu not being the same and the price costing a few dollars more we opted to purchase tickets to try and salvage the evening. Unfortunately, I was stuck on hold through the first course which really annoyed me. Part of me just wanted to hang up but I had already come too far with the case I started plus I was being charged international fees via my wireless carrier. Honestly, it was hard to bounce back from the surprise of the initial cruise not existing and an hour on the phone trying to come to some resolution. Thankfully the dinner cruise included a bottle of wine which helped my cause!
A week later
I still hadn’t heard back from Chase Travel after a week and decided to reach out on all fronts. Given the agent said my case was escalated and that I’d hear back within 48 hours just added to my overall frustration with the booking. A basic pro tip in these situations is to try advocating via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram messenger when you are not getting anywhere with the regular customer service.
A few days after my social media blitz I finally heard back from a supervisor who asked me to provide supporting documentation for my case. I sent my chase travel confirmation, the t-mobile bill for the international call, and booking information for the replacement dinner cruise. The supervisor apologized for the issue and said the case would be submitted for review.
The supervisor got back to me a few days later over the phone and provided me what Chase was willing to do to rectify the situation.
- Refund the Original Booking through the chase travel portal (15,664 Ultimate Rewards Points)
- Reimburse the international wireless charges ($13.25 in Fees)
- Pay the difference for the new cruise ($1.70 price difference)
Initially, I was glad to hear that I was receiving a refund and some compensation for the fees incurred. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that given the circumstance there should have been some sort of goodwill points offered. It was supposed to be a special honeymoon dinner and the whole situation really threw me for a loop. After some back and forth with the supervisor, I was provided an opportunity to appeal my feedback to the team.
Good Will Points
The next day I received an email stating that 5,000 Ultimate Rewards Points would be deposited into my account as a goodwill gift. I honestly think that this situation warranted a larger amount given the initial circumstance of there not being a dinner cruise that I booked through their service and then all of the following up afterward/submitting documentation for my claim to just get reimbursed.
I’m certainly grateful that I was able to get reimbursed and receive the 5,000 points ($75 cash value at 1.5 CPP) for the inconvenience. This situation sucked plain and simple. In my opinion, I thought it would be fair of Chase to cover the expense of the alternate dinner cruise that I booked that evening given the circumstance. Especially since I spent the first 35 minutes of the cruise waiting on hold with Chase over the phone. That day was planned around the dinner cruise and a lot of time went into booking it. I even had to purchase new pants!
Mistakes certainly happen and I’ve been on plenty of great tours booked through the Chase Travel Portal. Hopefully, this situation has been rectified within the portal and no one else will be blind-sided for their honeymoon dinner like me.
What do you think? Am I being too critical or should Chase have provided more compensation in this instance? Let me know down below in the comments!
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