How one customer fell victim to a 'free agent'
MANILA, Philippines – Are you travelling abroad this summer break? A word of caution: Be sure to verify your electronic booking ticket first with your airlines.
A Filipino family’s planned vacation to Hawaii almost fell through because of some problems with the e-tickets they purchased months ago.
Dan Provone would not have known that something was amiss with the 6 e-tickets he bought from Ma. Teresa Tan-Leuterio, had it not been for a friend who advised them to verify with the Philippine Airlines (PAL).
Leuterio is said to be a free agent of Travel & Perks Travel Agency in Makati City.
“Tumawag kagad sa akin yung kaibigan ko nang malaman niya na kumuha kami ng tickets kay Leuterio. May nabalitaan siya dati na di magandang experience ng mga kaibigan. Ang advise niya is to check with PAL kung authentic ang tickets,” Provone told abs-cbnNEWS.com in a phone interview.
He followed his friend’s advise and contacted PAL, only to learn that the e-tickets he bought for about US$6,000 bore no e-ticket numbers.
“Sabi ng Philippine Airlines, hindi daw ticket yun kasi walang e-ticket number. Sabi ng Philippine Airlines na nakausap ko na hindi pa daw natitikitan yan,” Provone said.
E-tickets to Hawaii
Provone initially bought 4 tickets for his family last December for a trip to Hawaii on April. The following month, his parents decided to join them on the trip and booked their e-tickets with the same agency. They booked earlier in anticipation of the rush this summer break.
“I became concerned. What I did, I went to their office and talked to a sales officer at sinabi ko yung sinabi ng Philippine Airlines sa akin,” Provone said. The sales officer said that Leuterio is not their agent. He wondered how she got hold of the company’s receipts if she is not its agent.
His family also tried getting in touch with the agency’s owner, Edith Sola, who allegedly got angry because the agency did not receive the supposed payment made by Provone’s family.
Provone showed them that all tickets issued to them have receipts from the agency.
“Kung walang resibo, wala akong habol,” he said.
Provone decided to consult with their lawyer on the matter. He is confident that the company receipts plus the fake 6 e-tickets issued to him are good enough as evidence should the case be brought to court.
Money used for personal use
Sola declined to be interviewed when ABS-CBN News tried to get her side of the story early this March. They, however, showed the news team an affidavit submitted by Leuterio.
Leuterio admitted that she used the money paid by Provone’s family for personal use. She also appealed to his family for more time. The agency said they will no longer accept transactions made by Leuterio.
Last February, Provone received the 4 tickets with the promise that the remaining 2 will be issued to them before March 10.
However, up until now, Provone has yet to receive the 2 tickets. Not wanting to spoil their planned vacation, Provone just bought 2 more tickets from another travel agency.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Airlines advised future travelers to ensure that they buy tickets only from regular travel agents or from PAL’s ticketing office.
Capt. Ruben Sternberg, PAL’s vice president for Safety Security and Environment, said they have no booking number “HQMVY/IB” which was issued to the Provones as the format was invalid.
Provone never thought that something like this would happen to them since he has dealt with the same person and agency before when he went to Canada last year.
The incident, he said, should also serve as a lesson to people who have businesses. They should never entrust important documents such as company receipts to other people.
Travelers, he advised, should “always get a receipt” while he suggested travel companies to “manage their agents well.” Maria Aleta Nieva Nishimori, abs-cbnNEWS.com with a report from Wheng Hidalgo, ABS-CBN News