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April 2003 Vol. 18, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Show Me the Money

from the April, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Subscriber Ray Haberman of Naperville booked a Cuba trip on the Oceanus through Salty Dog Adventures. To get a discount for full payment in advance, he authorized a $1,999 credit card payment. Because Salty Dog wasn't handling credit cards at the time, Haberman's charge was actually processed by The Dive Shop of St. Louis, which was promoting the trip.

Haberman told us that more than a month before they scheduled the trip to depart last August, Bolton informed him The Dive Shop had canceled. When Haberman requested a refund, Bolton advised him to get it from The Dive Shop. Lisa Schneider, general manager of The Dive Shop, claims that although they did indeed process Haberman's charge and issued him a receipt, they had forwarded the $1,999 to Salty Dog and therefore were not responsible for a refund.

This is a familiar scenario with the customer being pingponged between two providers. Haberman has appealed to his credit card company, the St. Louis Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General of Missouri, all unsuccessfully.

To complicate matters further, The Dive Shop and Salty Dog are in litigation. Bolton maintains that the shop canceled its trip when some clients backed out within the 30-day no-cancellation period. Lisa Schneider disputes the timing and says her clients changed their minds when they were advised that the package wasn't strictly legal in the eyes of OFAC. She declined to comment further, other than to tell us that one of the shop's employees had actually gotten busted bringing Cuban goods back from an earlier Salty Dog familiarization trip. Why she went on to promote another trip for her customers is anybody's guess.

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