Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another group is conned by Sabah free-lance tour agents

Kota Kinabalu: Some 15 tourists from the peninsula and Singapore claim their hopes of scaling Mt Kinabalu were dashed after being conned by a lady freelance tour agent here.The agent failed to refund the money due to them amounting to RM14,000 despite repeated promises. The amount is inclusive of their air fares, hotel accommodation and the two days-one night climb, among others.

This is the second time that such a complaint has surfaced. Sometime back, a group of peninsula tourists lodged a police report in Tg Aru about having paid a similar sum to climb the mountain but were stranded once in Sabah with no hope of a refund either. The tour agent in that case committed suicide.

In the latest case, the group lodged a report with Sabah Tourism Board (STB) as well as the police and were shocked when STB staff attending to their complaint apparently told them that such happenings were quite common. The group's spokesperson, Daniel Pang, said they had booked the tour package through the said tour agent who was operating under a local tour agency here on June 3, 2009 following a recommendation from a friend who had previously used and was impressed with her services.

Prior to the climb, they managed to go for a whitewater river rafting at the Padas River under the arrangement of the agent, he said, adding they also visited Manukan Island on their own. The problem started when they received a call from the tour agent one day prior to the climb, informing them they could not proceed with the climb as scheduled on April 18, as there was a problem with the booking for the climb citing a "communications blunder" by her company. Pang said she told them her company had booked the climb on 

April 19 instead of 18, adding since there was nothing much they could do, they accepted it. "But again, one day prior to the climb (on Apr 19), she called to tell them that they can only climb on April 20, claiming there were no rooms available at the Laban Rata on April 19. "She told us that she was willing to compensate our air tickets and accommodation if we agree to climb on April 20. "However, due to our work commitments, none of us accepted such an arrangement as that would require us to stay an additional two days.

She also promised to meet and explain but failed to do so. She just kept asking us to wait while she finds the money to pay us back," he said. "She asked for our bank account number but we doubt she will pay. She's not even answering our calls," added Pang. She had, in one of her SMSes, claimed that the problem was due to she having booked their climb through another tour agent who committed suicide last year. Pang said they would never go through a freelance tour agent in the future and hoped the State Tourism authorities would come up with measures to better protect tourists' interests. 

Source New Sabah Times April 21, 2010

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