Travel agency troubles

Get the latest consumer news from WABC-TV

Seven On Your Side
February 16, 2010 9:57:08 AM PST
The airline expressed sympathy and refunded the ticket for a Queens woman suffering from stage 3 cancer of the blood. Her travel agency, however, wouldn't forward that reimbursement on to her, declaring bankrupty and washing their hands of all obligations. Monica Brown had dreamed of a family reunion in Jamaica, but sudden back pain sent her to the doctor where she got the worst news of her life.

"(It was) like someone with a sharp object, cutting from right to left. I was just throwing up with severe pain," said the Hollis resident.

Monica was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a severe and debilitating blood disorder. Her doctor order her not to take the trip. So, Monica called her travel agency, Atlas Vacations, to try to get her $570 back. It was money she thought she'd need for her own burial expenses.

"The doctor told me I was really dead, and you really have to think about all the cost funeral cost, arrangement all these things weighed heavily on me. And I was trying to get my few dollars from travel agency and they just had not done it," said Monica.

Monica says Atlas refused to issue her a refund, even after the travel agent was reimbursed the airfare by Delta Airlines. "It's simple. They got the money and just refused to get it back to me."

The travel agency offered to issue a voucher good for one year. But, Monica's bone marrow transplant physician at Mount Sinai wrote the travel agent asking them to extend the fare credit, explaining her stem cell transplant means her immune system is severely compromised. Her doctor ordered her to avoid public spaces.

The owner of Monica's travel agency, Atlas, told 7 on your side he couldn't refund her ticket because the company went bankrupt last summer. But we found the owner is still in the travel business, running another agency in the same location under a different name.

Ken-Bar is the new travel agency name. owner Ken Stuart was contacted several times by 7 on your side.

And after a year of denying her the credit, Stuart sent 2 checks totaling more than $400 to his former client. Stuart said he kept $150 as a cancelation fee. He said he wrote the checks, not because he had to but out of the goodness of his heart.

A much heartier and healthier Monica Brown, who fought hard to beat her cancer was grateful.

"If it wasn't for 7 on your side I wouldn't know the owner and I would not have gotten the money."

Monica's cancer is in remission and she hopes to be well enough to take that trip home to Jamaica very soon.

Story by: Nina Pineda

Produced by: Steve Livingstone