Texas visitor says Hawaii travel company’s online ‘discounts’ were a scam

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — A tourist who vacationed in Hawaii says she was scammed by an online travel agency and is filing a complaint.

Laquana Sanders, of Katy, Texas, vacationed with her family in Hawaii for the first time last month.

After purchasing luau tickets from Hawaii Tour Experts, she agreed to watch a presentation on Zoom for a $40 discount. That’s when the high pressure sales tactics started.

“I gave him my credit card number for $199, then he said you were already approved. In my mind, I was like approved for what? Like an idiot, I gave him my personal information,” Sanders said.

She quickly signed up for membership through Aloha Hawaii Tours and Travel after learning she would get better deals than the big online travel websites.

When she got home, however, she received an unexpected bill for $2,000 over 18 payments and she couldn’t reach the company. Now she is filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the state.

“I got scammed. I got played and what’s so crazy is that I work in cybersecurity and so I wonder how I let these people play me? Sanders said.

Bruce Fisher, with Hawaii Aloha Travel, is a long-time travel agent in Hawaii with a good reputation.

He received a handful of calls from people mistaking his company for the company that took Sanders’ money. He tries to make buyers aware of caution.

“We’re all swimming in the same pool and there’s no way anyone can get cheaper prices and guarantee cheaper prices, which these guys are doing,” Fisher said.

“In 22 years of activity, I don’t know anything like it,” he added.

Roseann Freitas of the Better Business Bureau says it’s important to do background research, especially when you’re unfamiliar with a company.

“When they have similar names, it’s very easy to get confused and choose the wrong one,” Freitas said.

A Hawaii Tour Experts employee told HNN that club membership for the trips was standard and he insisted that the visitor get her money back.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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