HOBE SOUND, Fla. - There are fresh calls for action after plans for a dream trip have left some Martin County retirees adrift. They say they are out of luck, out of money and and out of patience - and now pleading with state to take down a travel agent.
The Division of Consumer Services confirms that nearly 40 people have filed complaints with the state over just one travel agent, who was said have been paid to book flights, cruises and dream vacations that never took off.
"It sounded real good," said Nancy Gookin. "My two sisters wanted to go and I said 'Oh boy, the three of us will go together'." Gookin and her two sisters were supposed to go to Ireland last October. But that it never happened. "It just kind of blew away," she said. "It's like, the trip is over. You didn't get it."
Each of the sisters wrote a check for $899 to travel agent, Kathleen Caron, owner of Orlando-based Elite Cruise Options. That payment was a year before they were planning to take off. They have the documentation to prove it. What happened to all the money? "She's got it," said Mary Ford, Gookin's sister. "We don't have it."
Helen Chachakis was supposed to take a cruise to Aruba last year. She says she paid more than $2,100 to the same agent, but she has not left home yet either. She has fading hope she will get all of her money back. "I doubt it now," she said. "It will be two years this April."
The state's Division of Consumer Services just launched an investigation into Caron and into Elite Cruise Options. 39 complaints have been filed so far more could come soon. The Better Business Bureau, meanwhile, recently downgraded the travel agency's rating to an 'F'.
WPTV NewsChannel 5 has attempted to contact Caron multiple times. Requests for comment have yet to be answered.
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