What’s more exciting than a holiday trip to a Disney Park? Well, if you’re a parent, gifting a holiday trip to a Disney Park to your children might just take the cake.
But what if you booked your holiday Disney dream vacation through a travel agency and arrived at the park, only to find that Disney has no record of your trip—no hotel reservations, no tickets, no bookings of any kind?
Go West With Mickey allegedly sold almost $480,000 in trips to Disneyland Paris to hundreds of families who later found out that their trips were never booked. The firm has since closed, its Facebook page and website have been deleted, and the firm has stopped answering What’s App messages. They’ve even blocked customers’ numbers.
Sadly, many of the non-booked trips had been paid for by parents hoping to surprise their kids with a trip to Disneyland Paris for Christmas.
“I contacted Disney,” said Ali McEvoy, who had purchased a trip for her kids Owen, age 10 and Cariad, age 7 for Christmas. “They said nothing was booked.”
McEvoy bought the holiday packages from Go West With Mickey—a four-night Disney trip, for which she paid close to $1,100 for a hotel room and park tickets. She even recorded her children opening their last holiday gift—a 2019 calendar, showing the dates in December when they’d be at Disneyland Paris. But then McEvoy says she began to see rumors online about the company’s allegedly fraudulent practices, and that’s when she called Disney and got the terrible news.
“Every time my daughter sees the castle, she gets upset,” McEvoy explained about her daughter, Cariad.
Another mom, Natalie Pirie, booked a Disneyland Paris trip through Go West With Mickey and arrived in Paris with her son, Rio, age 10 and her twins Kyanna and Boaz, age 5, only to be told that the Disney Park had absolutely no record of her booking. She was devastated.
She was able to scrape together just enough money for a hotel room, and some very generous strangers paid for her family’s park tickets.
“The stress this caused me was unreal,” Natalie said, “I was crying every day. I put things on my credit card so my kids wouldn’t be left disappointed.”
The Go West With Mickey firm issued a statement last month on its website stating that the company was “dead,” and that its bank accounts were frozen. The statement further read that “there [have] been mistakes, yes it was a company of five staff who also made mistakes. We have always highly compensated for these mistakes.”
Metropolitan Police questioned the firm’s owner this week during a voluntary interview and said that there are 419 allegations of fraud being investigated at this time.
But the firm has now blamed a disgruntled employee for the debacle, as well as a Facebook Group, saying that “misinformed” customers heard things from the two and posted their full booking details online.
“This resulted in a number of real people who had booked and paid for a holiday arriving at Disney to find their booking canceled,” the company said in a statement.
The firm also says that the scenario caused panic among customers, and rumors online about Go West With Mickey being a scam caused customers to think the firm had taken their money and never booked their trips for them. The firm went on to deny any part in taking down its website, insisting instead that complaints to the web hosts resulted in the dismantling of the company’s site.
During an interview, the owner of Go West With Mickey said that the bookings were secure.
“That was easily confirmable by telephoning Disney,” he said. “If I was going to scam everyone, why didn’t I just run off on holiday?”
Disneyland Paris issued a statement, saying that Go West With Mickey “is not an official commercial partner” and that the firm is not “an unauthorized reseller.”
The Association of British Travel Agents also weighed in on the scenario and stated that the travel firm is not a member of the ABTA.
“Operators selling packaged holidays are legally required to provide financial protection for customers,” the ABTA said in a statement.
Police estimate the loss at this time to be around $480,000 and said that inquiries into the case are ongoing. But that’s little comfort for the families whose holiday wishes were dashed when they discovered they didn’t have any entitlements to a trip for which they already paid.
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What do you think happened? Do you think the travel firm is fraudulent, or is the owner telling the truth about a disgruntled employee causing the problems? And what do you think those families are entitled to? Let us know in the comments section below.
Source: The Mirror