The facts: 3 of us – me and my parents had booked an ex-Lucknow Kailash Mansarovar trip by helicopter from 11th to 19th June 2011, for a total amount of Rs. 315, 000 (Rs.105, 000*3). We reached on our own expense to Lucknow, where we were picked up by a taxi to Nepalgunj (Nepal) arranged by Dewan Holidays. We were supposed to take onward flights from Nepalgunj. However, due to bad weather conditions, we could not travel any further, and returned back to Lucknow after 3 days. Expenses borne by Dewan Holidays were the via/permit expenses (~10, 000 pp), taxi return fare (~10, 000) and the stay at Nepalgunj (1 room, ~10, 000) adding to a total of ~16, 000 per person. We were promised that time that the trip would be re-scheduled sometime in 2011/12. In August 2011, my father suffered a heart condition and had to have major surgery, because of which he was not in a position to undertake the strenuous high-altitude yatra. My mother had to care for him, because of which she was also ruled out. We informed Dewan Holidays (Lalit in the Karol Bagh was our first and only POC till then) that we could not travel on any rescheduled dates anymore, so we should look at other options like:
1) A partial refund. After deducting expenses, the remaining amount was in the order of ~90, 000 pp. We were fine with even 50% of it, since there were unforeseen circumstances on both sides.
2) Let Dewan Holidays adjust someone else to make the journey in our place, and his money be transferred to us. We were told there was a visa change fee of ~10, 000 pp, which we of course agreed to be deducted from our refund.
3) We should send some friends or relatives in our place, and adjust at least some partial amount.
4) Arrange some other trip which is less strenuous like Kerala/South-East Asia and adjust the amount there. In fact, we had personally come to Delhi and gone to meet Lalit at Karol Bagh, where he was fine with the last option and even gave us a brochure for alternative trips.
Discussions on these alternatives went on for more than a year till August 2012. Over numerous phone calls first with Lalit, then Satendra and Taruna, we were given tonnes of excuses – the refunds being processed fro our onward operators, the dates are being decided for next year’s yatra, we can talk about it only after all the yatras end in 2012, etc. And every time we were assured that our situation was clear, and something will be done. I do not have saved recordings but I’m sure Vodafone does, and it can be corroborated exactly in a court of law! At the end of the 2012 yatras, when they ran out of excuses, the matter was suddenly escalated to Mr. SK Dewan (who I had never spoken to once in the past year) who bluntly told that doing the yatra was the only available option and nothing could be done. Primary issues:
1) Since we were promised a trip after the once got cancelled, something should have been done – esp. some partial adjustment for a future trip. Since it is a big amount, even 50% of the money was fine.
2) If nothing could be done, they should have told me upfront so that I did not waste my time, energy and even more money on trips and phone calls!
3) They should have been clear that the subordinates either had no knowledge/authority to deal with such cases, and escalated it to Mr. Dewan sooner, so that I wouldn’t have been foolishly talking to random people and explaining my predicament.
The tone with which they talked and even dealt with, during the journey was just rude – you dont treat paying customers like that! I have lost all enthusiasm or hope of getting back anything after a lot of frustration in 1.5 years. However, I would be happy if someone was dissuaded from dealing with these frauds, and avoiding a lot of mental harassment and monetary loss!