Church scholarship held up by travel agent

Seven On Your Side
October 9, 2009 8:52:52 PM PDT
After months of waiting, Baptist church prayers for payment finally answered.It was supposed to be a win-win for the church. A Caribbean vacation that would also raise money for their college scholarship fund. But when the travel agent stiffed them it was time for a little divine intervention from Tappy Phillips and 7 On Your Side.

Willie West can't believe a travel agent would deny his church hundreds of dollars. He's is a deacon at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church. He says the money was to fund a college scholarship for needy students.

"It's pretty sad when he knew what the money is for."

Willie's talking about the owner of Contempo Tours that booked a Caribbean cruise for 30 parishioners earlier this year.

The deal? In exchange for all the business, the church would get one berth free from the travel agent, totalling a rebate of $1265. In August, the church did get a check.

"Three weeks later, we deposit (the) check," said the church deacon. But it bounced, returned for insufficient funds. "He (Contempo's owner) never bothered to call us up to explain what happened. It took us weeks to finally get in touch with him."

The church says they called Contempo continuously, even sent a letter threatening legal action, but the church's prayers for payment went unanswered.

"He still refused to pay us knowing that it's not going in my pocket or any member of the church," said the but it's to help the kids of our neighborhood."

So we paid Contempo Tours a visit. The owner wasn't at work. So we asked an associate of the owner about the money owed the church.

Tappy Phillips: "We want to know about the Olivet Baptist Church. They're owed money. They're owed about $1200 dollars and I'm wondering when they're going to get paid."

The tour company owner later told us business was bad and that's why the check bounced. He also said he thought he had until November to pay. But the deacon disagrees, saying he never agreed to a November payment. Instead, he threatened legal action if the church he wasn't paid by then. But, just a week after we left the deacon accepted a check for $1295 which included a bounced check fee.

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Story by: Tappy Phillips


Produced by: Steve Livingstone

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