Soundwave Cruises sails away with consumers’ money
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- In the last few months, Better Business Bureau has received complaints from consumers across the country about Texas-based Soundwave Cruises.
Consumers allege they paid Jacob Dominguez, the company’s owner, thousands of dollars for cruises, and then received notification that those cruises were overbooked or cancelled. Though Dominguez promised quick refunds, some are still waiting for their money.
BBB recently received more than two dozen complaints from consumers about the problem. BBB tried to contact Dominguez about the pattern of complaints, but he has not responded to that letter. He has also not responded to BBB about any of the complaints.
“We never got anything,” Austin resident Josefa Sifuentes said about her attempts to contact Dominguez. “I kept emailing him; I never got anything from him.”
Sifuentes said she and her husband made monthly payments totaling $1,653 in order to go on a Tejano Cruise in February. In January, she received an email saying that the cruise had been overbooked. The letter promised a refund by June.
Though Dominguez was very responsive while they were still making payments, Sifuentes said once her cruise was cancelled, he stopped answering his email.
“Apparently, the phone number’s down; the website’s down,” she said.
Linsey Handlin, an Odessa resident, said she had a similar experience. She paid hundreds of dollars toward a cruise. Dominguez later told her it was postponed.
Unlike Sifuentes, Handlin did eventually get a money order for some of the amount she paid. However, the name on the money order was misspelled and her bank initially refused to accept it. In addition, Handlin said it was $390 short.
Handlin said she has since been unsuccessful in her attempts to get in touch with Dominguez.
“I have about six to seven emails trying to get him,” she said. “I called but it would go to voicemail and the voicemail box was full.”
Luckily, she said, once she explained the situation to her bank, representatives there accepted the misspelled check. But Handlin said she is still out $390.
When booking any vacation through a travel company, BBB offers the following advice:
· Check with BBB first. Visit bbb.org to check the BBB Business Review of any company to view its complaint history, BBB rating and more.
· Gather information. Don’t be fooled by professional websites or e-mail invitations. Few legitimate businesses can afford to give away free products and services of real value that substantially undercut their competitor’s prices. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
· Request everything in writing. Get the names of airlines, hotels, car rental companies and other recreation services associated with the travel package, and contact them individually to verify reservations. Ask for a copy of the travel company’s cancellation and refund policy and do not sign the final contract without reading over it carefully.
· Never pay cash or wire money. These payment options make it extremely difficult to obtain refunds. Paying with a credit card offers the option to dispute a charge within 60 days of a purchase.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.
About Better Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.
Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities.
Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748.
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