Consumer Complaints and Reviews
I would strongly discourage any responsible parent from sending their son/daughter on a Passports Educational Tour to Costa Rica. My daughter recently attended such a trip. While in Costa Rica, the Passports designated tour guide took the students to a local bar. At this establishment, my daughter observed some of the students consuming alcohol. She was physically and verbally harassed by an adult male. She felt very frightened and disturbed by this situation. I was later told by Passports that they cannot regulate all of the free time activity options, therefore, they have no issue with their guides taking students to a bar. I was further told that my daughter should not have worn a tank top and short shorts; basically alluding to the fact that the harassment she experienced was her fault.
After the trip to the bar, my daughter and two of her classmates returned to the home they were assigned to for their homestay. Prior to embarking on this trip, we were told that the family of the homestay consisted of a mother and her 14 year old daughter. Imagine my daughter's terror when she discovered that the same man who was verbally and physically inappropriate at the bar was also spending the night at the homestay! She said she stayed awake crying all night in an unlocked bedroom while holding her 3 ounce can of bug spray in her hands as a weapon should the intoxicated man come through the bedroom door.
Once again, Passports denied any issue; even though my paperwork did not indicate an adult male would be staying at this same home. And, other chaperones on the trip said there was no way they would allow any of their students to spend the night in the same home as this visibly drunk man. Parents, I strongly suggest you think twice about sending your child on a Passports tour. I shudder to think of how my daughter's safety was in jeopardy because of their negligence.
My daughter's passport arrived with her an extra name she doesn't use/never has used. I contacted them to see if it would be a problem. They are charging me $225 to add that name. Literally, $225 to type nine letters. They haven't even purchased the tickets yet and they are saying there might be additional airline fees. I have used other companies for educational travel trips that did not feel like such a scam.
Our children's high school sends home literature about dream trips to Italy/Greece and other destinations. While the event is not officially sponsored by the school, a teacher from the high school is the chaperon. Info is sent home from school. Planning meetings are held at school. 3 weeks prior to trip departure we receive an email from the teacher via her school email address saying she will not be back next year, but that she intends to still chaperon the trip and requests we keep this information quiet.
Nine days prior to departure, the teacher/chaperon tells parents during the final parents meeting that she is not returning to school in order to care for her ill father in Florida. One week prior to departure (3 days after parent meeting), we receive a certified return receipt requested letter from the superintendent of the school district stating that the teacher resigned and is no longer an employee due to texting inappropriate photos to a male student. The same day (Saturday, June 1) the school district letter is faxed to Cathy at Passports. On Monday June 1, we contacted Michael (Passports VP) and he states that he will be contacting all parents and even if there is one objection, the chaperon will be changed. She is the only adult from our school that is going on the trip because the teacher conned Passports into giving the second free trip not to another chaperon, but to her daughter. My wife and I offer to sub for the chaperon at our own expense so the trip is not cancelled.
An emergency parents meeting is called for Tuesday, June 2. Teacher/chaperon confesses that she lied to us to protect her and her daughter’s reputation. A heated discussion occurs and, reluctantly, parents agree to ask the school to assist in finding a chaperon replacement. Passports, Inc. agrees and supports this action. School identifies a qualified and experienced replacement. I had several conversations with Michael ** about this disturbing issue and he agreed that the current chaperon was not appropriate to send. Based on feedback from other parents, Passports spends the next 3 days waffling about who the chaperon will be and should they cave to the majority of the parents whose only concern seems to be that their kids might not have as much fun with the proposed substitute chaperon. Parents call a second emergency meeting on Thursday, June 4 (72 hours prior to departure) and vote to send original chaperon, who is no longer a teacher at the school, confessed to sending a photo of a ** to a male student, and is under investigation by the State of Georgia’s Professional Practices Board for her behavior. Parents vote 10-2 in favor of sending original chaperon/former teacher without even seriously exploring the option of the second chaperon identified by the school.
We continue to object to Passports, Inc. Finally, on Friday, June 5, when it appears that Passports, Inc. will send the originally and now disgraced teacher, we request a refund of our $8800.00 since we will not send our children 8,000 miles from home with such an irresponsible and reckless adult. Dr. Gil M., owner of Passports, Inc., returns our call to tell us that if our children will not show up, there is no refund and that he is completely comfortable with sending a confessed **-texting and former teacher with 10 teenagers to Europe. We were shocked that a former Yale professor and acclaimed educator would take such a stand. We could not send our children to Europe in the care of such a reckless and potentially dangerous adult. How do we recover our investment of $8800.00 from Passports, Inc.?
All school districts which allow teachers to recruit students for travel with PASSPORTS, INC. in Spencer, Ma., should know that these teacher's travel expenses are paid for on the basis of the number of student and adult travelers the TEACHER recruits. Basically, the TEACHER'S travel costs are calculated in the package price for those traveling which is to say you are paying for the TEACHER's trip.
On March 13, 2009, my daughter and I traveled to Paris, France for a spring break trip arranged by a TEACHER through PASSPORTS.PASSPORTS did not inform us about airline or hotel arrangements until 30 days before our trip.
I was dissatisfied with the air line arrangements as PASSPORTS routed us from Dallas/Fort Worth to Philadelphia to Paris with same arrangements for return flights. There are direct flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Paris, France offered on several airlines.If I had cancelled the trip due to dissatisfaction over the air routing, I would lose all fees paid because of the way PASSPORTS structures fee payments and/or refunds.
Therefore, I elected to go forward with the trip. But it gets even better. We arrive in Paris and are taken to our 3 Star Hotel, St Charles Hotel at 6 rue d'esparans, Paris. This hotel was far from a 3 star hotel as rated by the French Tourism Bureau. I know this because I have stayed in 3 Star Hotels in Paris in the past.At night all hallway lights are turned off. The St. Charles Hotel was being renovated and had scaffolding throughout the hotel. (I have pictures to prove it.) Some of the children were 3 to a tiny room. Again a safety hazard. I had paid for a private room which was not large enough to be considered a walk in closet. The showers were enclosed with plastic doors which did not close.
As I was leaving the hotel the morning we arrived, 2 seedy looking people were leaving as well. I later saw them on the sidewalk rolling "funny cigarettes". Later when I returned I saw sex workers coming into the hotel. Finally, 2 very well dressed french speakers were checking out of the hotel with many complaints about the hotel and demanding a refund of their money. I speak French so I understood every word. The French woman was saying basically everything I have just said, the hotel 3 star claim is false advertisement. The hotel did not have hot water. The hotel was noisy. The room was not clean and the construction/scaffolding was unsafe.
I strongly advise everyone planning a group trip avoid using PASSPORTS. I plan to complain to the Attorney General of Massachusettes Consumer Affairs Division and Better Business Bureau as well. I suggest other dissatisfied customers do the same.
I have applied for passport in the month of January, 2008. Police Inquiry have been done in the month of May-June. On the web-site of Passport Office Jaipur, it is showing that passport is to be dispatched by next week from the last 2 months, I have also made calls to Passport Office Jaipur, but no one is there to pick up the calls, might be the no. is dead. I took this no from their site. I also send E-mails to this office but no response I have attended yet.
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Despite over one year notice in planning a non-school-sponsored trip (although the group is a school group, board policy forbids school-sponsored travel overseas to limit school liability), Passports failed to respect a verbal agreement to obtain late afternoon flights on the date of departure. We were very clear that the school district has a policy which does not allow teachers to take the day before a vacation off for any reason, and that an after-school departure (3 PM or later) was necessary. The flight is scheduled for 1 PM and the teachers organizing the trip and accompanying the students are being docked pay and face disciplinary consequences. Passports refuses to change the time of the flights and has also refused to reimburse the teachers for the missed pay. Their claim that teachers travel free is clearly deceptive. Our trip hasn't even begun and I have serious misgivings about traveling with such a duplicitous and unresponsive company.
Lost wages for teachers accompanying students. Disciplinary letters in the personnel files of teachers. Missed school for student participants (an illegal absence in the state of New York).
My daughter and I planned trip via Passports, Inc. to travel to two cities in Ireland and two cities in Scotland (May 12-22). After full payment was made (Feb., 2007 in cash - did not accept credit card payments) and deposited to Passports - trip plans were changed within 18 days of departure to visit 1 city in Scotland and 1 city in Ireland without change in cost.
Notification that itinerary had changed was via third party on 4/24 (per College teacher). When request was made to provide itemization/account for cost of original and modified trip - Passports responded there is no itemization for cost of original trip itinerary purchased in full or modified trip. Request for reimbursement (two individuals) was denied. I would have never elected for my daughter and I to travel oversees for ten (10) days to visit Dublin and 1 city in Scotland (that we have already visited) at the same cost (paid in full) as original planned; and without being notification by Passports, Inc.
Today is May 1 - we still have no idea what airlines, flight times, hotel, etc. have been planned. Nothing received to date; however, Passports, Inc. said package is being mailed to teacher.
What is listed on their web site is NOT true from our experience: There are good reasons for arranging your overseas adventure with a nationally-known sponsor of such trips, such as passports. Mainly, you can be sure that the trip will occur, and pretty much in accordance with your expectations and the promises made to you by the company. (That doesn't always happen with a tiny new company strapped for cash, or with a local travel agent doing quality student travel arrangements for the first time.)
Passports, Inc response from Manager, Customer Service:
Sent: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 11:09 AM
We are sorry but we cannot honor your request for a special refund if you decided to cancel from the tour. We are now just days from departure and the services have all been paid on your behalf.
We hope that you will remain enrolled on the tour and look forward to providing you with a wonderful overseas experience.
I feel as if College Students are being targetted for Passports, Inc. financial gain. At no time did Passports deny they do not and can not provide breakout cost for total amount they charged and received in full.
1. Total amount paid - do not know what was planned or made as arrangements.
2. Was required to pay Membership fee with Passports, Inc.
3. Pay associated with Time scheduled off from work for two individual.
I am a high school teacher in Madison, Wisconsin, seeking some advice on behalf of a group of my students. Let me briefly describe our dilemma:
As the Chinese language teacher at Memorial High, I planned a trip to Beijing for this April with 10 students and 6 other adults (parents and colleagues). Passports Inc. ( a company based in Spencer, Massachusetts which specializes in teacher-student travel) charged $1793 per traveler to arrange the trip.
Due to SARS, we cancelled 16 days before the planned departure. Passports Inc. subsequently mailed each traveler their plane ticket with a short letter saying that they should contact Northwest Airlines about using the ticket. However, since the tickets are group discount tickets, individual travelers are unable to negotiate with Northwest. The group desk liaison at NW was sympathetic to our plight, and suggested we attempt to work directly with the wholesale travel agency (Pacific Delights) to use the almost $800 tour packages towards other NW flights any time before December 31 (the option NW and Pacific Delights had arranged for other SARS-related cancellations).
I approached the wholesale travel agency with this objective; however, the wholesaler insisted that they do not work with individual clients, and we should work through Passports Inc. to redirect our tickets. Passports Inc. has taken the stance that there is nothing more they can do for us since we cancelled the trip. Therefore, we are unable to work with them to use our tickets.
I contacted a local travel agency to pursue using them as an intermediary with the wholesaler, but was told that they wouldn't be able to without permission from Passports Inc. and acknowledgment from Pacific Delights. We would be unwilling to pay additional money to a new travel agent, for which we feel Passports should be responsible. We would consider a refund worth the value of the tickets, or else the option of using our tickets with the help of any travel agency other than Passports, Inc. The trip was a big expense for some of the families (as organizer I'm actually not out any money), and I feel that they should be able to use the tickets they paid for.
Passports, Inc. Company Profile
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