Scams for travel to the World Cup and vacations after the abrupt closure of Transhotel – Information – 09/03/2022

The stories of those affected by the closure of trans-hotel they are most varied. There is the case of some girls between the ages of 12 and 15 who bought tickets to perform at a dance event abroad, attended by people from all over the world. To be able to go, they sold raffles and food, and made solidarity moves in their neighborhood, La Teja.

There is also the story of a woman whose son was killed, and she bought a ticket abroad for herself and her granddaughter. And there is the truncated trip of a couple who would celebrate their 50 years of marriage in Aruba, as a gift for which their children raised the money.

months before the start of World Cup in Qatar and more with the participation of the Uruguayan team, it was to be expected that there would be a case linked to one of the most important sporting events. So there were people who paid US$26,000 for a trip that they will not be able to take now.

Diana, for her part, took out a loan at Banco República (BROTH) to three years to “make the trip to Spain that I dreamed of” after retiring. He only bought the round trip ticket to Madrid for US$1,060 from Transhotel, which does not exist today. He called Air Europa and verified that there is no reservation in his name or in the company’s name.

“On October 11 – the date of the first flight – I will confirm that it was a big scam,” Diana told El País at a demonstration last Friday. He bought the ticket on May 18 and the company told him that the ticket would be sent to him 10 days before the trip. She was struck by that modality because she traveled on “other occasions” and they gave it to her “the next day, at most.”

And the Caribbean was not left out of the list, since a group of 29 people paid US$36,000 to go to Cancún (Mexico). There is also the case of Alba, from Florida, who was unable to recover US$7,300 that she gave the company for a trip to Punta Cana (Dominican Republic). The plan she had was family, six people, and they found out about the Transhotel situation through the press.

“I saw a post on Facebook, contacted the company and decided to buy. I handed over half the money, US$3,650, and had several exchanges with my agent” via WhatsApp, the lady said, and continued: “Then I received a message saying that August 8 was the last day I had to pay the other half. I came and paid the rest.” Days later, “I was watching the news and found out about the scam (…) I called the hotel in Punta Cana, where I was supposed to stay, and there was no reservation in my name or any of my relatives. I call the airline and neither. And I realized that we had been scammed. We were traveling on September 1.

If you call the Transhotel company, no one answers. However, the website continues to operate, something that is noteworthy considering that yesterday afternoon the Ministry of Tourism asked the Justice for the preventive closure of the travel agency, reported El Observador and confirmed El País with sources from the portfolio. . The company closed untimely weeks ago, which caused hundreds of customers to report non-compliance with the contracted services.

There is a group of victims organized in a WhatsApp group that has about 280 people that, in reality, represents more than 700 individuals. On the one hand, they are evaluating making a criminal complaint and, on the other, they are analyzing pursuing a civil claim.

Lawyer Graziana Abelenda, spokesperson, told El País that, as far as civil matters are concerned, “measures are being taken considering the information provided by the victims.”

The “complaint was also made to the Ministry of Tourism for the execution of the insurance money (which the company has contracted with the State Insurance Bank). They are waiting for a response from the company, considering the goodwill reflected in the statement “that it issued on Monday, he added.

At the beginning of this week, Transhotel apologized to those affected and assured that it will fulfill its obligations, in addition to assuming its “business responsibility.” The company has not issued any other statement since then and the organized victims say they have no communication with the company.

Transhotel also assured that in its 30 years of activity it has been “up to its obligations and this time it will also do so, boarding even the last passenger on board the means of transport for which it opportunely commits itself”.

The Ministry of Tourism gave the company a period of 10 days – it began to run on Tuesday, August 23 – to manage a bank loan. If this is not achieved, the guarantee it has in the BSE for 1,400,000 UI (about US$ 180,000 at current value) will be used to repair the damage.

Transhotel ticket.  Photo: Juan Manuel Ramos.
Transhotel ticket. Photo: Juan Manuel Ramos.

The problem that the victims face is that the insurance does not cover the amount of money that the company owes them. What’s more, Abelenda told El País that the amount of the BSE It is not even enough for 30% of the total. They have not yet defined the total amount of loss. To do this, they are analyzing the documents of those affected and thus “to be able to take (knowledge of) the magnitude of the situation.”

On the other hand, according to what El País learned, until yesterday “more than 300 extensions” had been presented on the mother complaint in the Police.

The victims can also file complaints at the Ministry of Tourism, where 400 had entered until yesterday. The portfolio on Thursday was just processing the complaints that were received until August 24, that is, one day after the company’s situation was made public, according to what El País learned.

The ministry recalled that the victims can report their particular situation in the portfolio by email ([email protected]), process online or in person at the Document Administration office from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The issue is also in the Justice, in the hands of the prosecutor Ferdinand Roman. From the Prosecutor’s Office they reported that it is a “complex investigation” that “will not have an immediate resolution.”

Apologies and rain of complaints

On August 23, the Minister of Tourism, Tabare VieraHe told a press conference that his portfolio received complaints of fraud from people who bought packages at the Transhotel travel agency and are now waiting for a response.

The following Saturday, the Colorado chief said that the owner director of the company appeared before the portfolio and “stated that he was in economic and financial difficulties, but that he was looking for a solution.”

Days later, the company issued a statement apologizing to those affected and assuring that it will fulfill its obligations, in addition to assuming its “business responsibility.” In turn, that same day, the owner of the agency, Radamés Montero, filed a complaint for the loss of a checkbook, El Observador reported and prosecutor Fernando Romano confirmed to El País.

The next day, Tuesday, a group of victims took aim at the statement released by the company and said that the company’s “radio silence” towards them is “deafening.”

“The company has decided to use the press as a means of whitewashing its image, clarifying situations, but to whom it owes us a true response is to us, its clients, and with whom the company has made a commitment,” he said.

“Transhotel’s statement is full of good intentions, which, for the time being, we have not seen materialized”, point out the victims. “This group knows of isolated cases where some money has been returned, but it seems light to affirm and speak of percentages,” he added.

The members of the group maintain that they will continue “fighting” for their “rights, peacefully, in solidarity, without haste, but without pause. Knowing” that “months of a lot of negotiation await them and surely very exhausting like everything suffered up to now”.

They were also open to dialogue with the company, the Ministry of Tourism and the Uruguayan Association of Travel Agencies.

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