Travel agency breaks promise to customers
A South Florida travel agency that abruptly closed its doors in November, leaving dozens of customers out thousands of dollars and without their vacations, has not held followed through on a promise.
Legendary Journeys said that all customers would be refunded by Dec. 31, but the new year has begun, the company hasn’t delivered on that promise.
Customer after customer of Legendary Journeys all share similar stories.
“We were looking forward to it, getting together with our friends,” said Bruce Herget, Ocala resident.
“It was for our 50th wedding anniversary,” said Jerry Ross, Punta Gorda resident.
They all paid for a dream vacation.
Jerry and Carolyn Ross were celebrating a milestone, and Bruce and Glory Herget were looking forward to a week-long getaway.
“I couldn’t believe it because we had traveled with them so many times,” said Glory Herget.
But none of these couples made it on board because Legendary Journeys never paid the cruise line.
Instead, they closed their doors, leaving customers in limbo.
“Who took the money? And where is it?” asked Bruce Herget.
The president of the company, Al Ferguson explained where their money was in November.
“Well, in various places,” said Ferguson. “They were purchasing packaging that included airfare, that included touring, and hotels and their deposit was far more than just the cruise component. As a result, their deposit went to many many things.”
But both the Ross’ and the Hergets’ said that their travel packages did not include airfare, touring, or hotels, they only included the cruise.
Ferguson blamed the abrupt closure on employee theft, Caribbean hurricanes, and unrest in Cuba and promised that every customer would be refunded.
“We’re expecting that we will be complete by the end of the year,” said Ferguson.
On New Years Day, however, customers were still left empty-handed.
“We have not received one penny,” said Carolyn Ross.
Customers said Ferguson has not kept his promise, and they doubt he ever will.
“We do not expect to at this point,” said Carolyn Ross.
Al Ferguson did not return a request for comment.
Below is a copy of the last email he sent customers on December 1, 2017:
Dear Legendary Journeys Guest,
This is our December 1, 2017 update on the status of Legendary Journeys closure. In the last 30 days a significant amount of progress has been made. And we will continue to make significant progress. Here are the summary highlights:
1: Continued communication with you. We have a skeleton staff that continue to answer emails at customerservice@LJ.travel and you can also contact us at our central phone number +1 941-953-7988. Both are intended to continue to keep you informed and assist you with general questions about the closure of Legendary Journeys.
2: Credit Card Chargebacks – In the last month Legendary Journeys has accepted all chargeback requests. You should be complete by now if you made a payment to Legendary Journeys by credit card. We have advised you this is true whether your card is credit or debit. We have advised that you cannot accept a negative answer from your merchant card provider, which is contacted via phone number on the back of your card. We have advised you that you should file a complaint, if you receive a denial, at both the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Regulatory Agencies for bank and merchant services. We have paid chargeback claims in the amount of over $750,000 in the last month. This is the fastest and easiest way for Legendary Journeys to resolve your claim. We will continue to accept chargebacks. If you made payments by Check it is because you chose to discount your invoice by saving the merchant fees and taking that discount. We will continue to follow the process of resolution for you.
3: Insurance Claims – We continue to advise you to demand coverage protection through your travel insurance provider. If you took insurance, whether through Legendary Journeys or another provider, you should be covered for this event. Some insurance companies are claiming that their policy does not include Travel Agency bookings. This is incorrect. Legendary Journeys is not a Travel Agency, and your trip is proof of that. We are a Tour Operator. You do not have a Travel Agency booking but rather a Tour Operator booking that has many tour components in your package. And therefore the information you are being given is incorrect. You should file an insurance claim, or file an appeal with the insurance company. You should explain that Legendary Journeys is a Tour Operator. And your program that you were participating on was a tour. Not services provided by a Travel Agency. If you are denied we recommend you file an appeal with the State Insurance Regulatory Agency and the Better Business Bureau and provide the details that we have already given you about Legendary Journeys being a Tour Operator, not a Travel Agency. This is the fastest way to resolve your claim.
4: Legendary Journeys Assets – As previously explained, Legendary Journeys owns the assets of the corporation. There are no liens and no mortgages. Legendary Journeys has created contracts with various sellers to liquidate those assets. Those funds will be placed into an account to resolve your claim and we will continue to update you on the progress that is being made to resolve your claim through these asset sales.
5: Customer Asset Claim Account – A special account has been created where all asset sales will be deposited for distribution to resolve claims. Commissions, asset sales, equipment sales, and the like are being deposited in this newly created account.
6: Legal Status Business Closure is about to be Completed – Legendary Journeys closure will be administered through State and Federal laws and will be managed in terms of asset sales and completion of claims. This will include communicating directly with you in the customer claim process for reimbursement. This will be administered legally through State and Federal procedures, not administered by Legendary Journeys. You will receive information in the mail that will instruct you to document and follow your claim process.
7: All Offices Have Been Closed and Inventoried – Assets including equipment etc. have been inventoried and moved and will be included in the asset sales process for claim distribution.
8: All Media Request Have Been Granted – Legendary Journeys has responded to every media request, Better Business Bureau request, or travel regulatory request and information has been provided of the exact situation ofLegendary Journeys closure. Legendary Journeys will continue to cooperate in any requests that are made.
In conclusion, we complete this first month update to provide as much clarity and transparency as possible. This has been a very difficult situation for Legendary Journeys, our employees, and our customers. But we are sure you see great progress is being made and will continue to be made to resolve all issues.