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Another crazy cruise catastrophe averted



Updated: January 25, 2012 2:01AM

Dear Fixer: In June 2009, my husband and I went on a Holy Land cruise with Princess Cruises. We did not make it to the Holy Land, because the ship’s engine caught fire in Port Said, Egypt. All the passengers were flown home by Princess Cruises, given refunds and offered future cruise credits that equaled 25 percent of the fare paid. The cruise had to be booked before the end of December 2010.

My husband and I booked a seven-day Southern Caribbean Classic cruise for March 20- 27, 2011, using the credit. We also purchased vacation protection insurance.

On Feb. 18, 2011, my husband had surgery on his eye. After the surgery there were complications, and ultimately, he had to have another surgery. My husband’s doctor advised us not to travel due to him having to monitor my husband’s progress three times a week. We canceled the cruise on March 7. At the time of the cancellation, the Princess Cruises representative told me to call and reschedule when I was sure we could go on the cruise.

I called to reschedule the cruise. This time, a different representative told me the credits could not be used. The reason given was that the reservation had to have been made by the end of December 2010. Please help us.

Betty Johnson-Rojas, Chicago

Dear Betty: First, we need to say that your letter was a tiny bit understated in its description of the cruise cut short. You told us that after the ship’s engine caught fire, you and the other passengers were without air conditioning or fresh water and had to sleep outside on the deck. When they decided to fly everyone home, you wound up spending another uncomfortable night in the Cairo airport from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next day.

After all that, we imagine that extra cruise credit was something you felt you had more than earned.

And it only seemed fair that you should still get to use that money, even though your husband’s eye surgery complications got in the way of taking the second cruise. After all, you had booked that before the Dec. 31, 2010, deadline.

Happily, after we took this to Kirby Day, director of shore operations for Princess Cruises, the cruise line agreed. They contacted you before Thanksgiving to tell you your $1,838 credit has been reinstated and extended to the end of this year.

Bon voyage!

Mystery shopping near-miss

Last Sunday, The Fixer had some fun messing with a scammer who’d sent us an e-mail offering a supposed mystery shopping job. After some back and forth, he mailed us a check for $1,950 and told us to deposit it in our bank account, keep $400 as our pay and then wire transfer the rest of the money back to another “employee” in the scheme. Of course, we didn’t fall for it because we knew that the check would eventually be found out as a fake.

After that column ran, we heard from Pat Sweatt, who almost got ripped off in a similar scam. Lucky for Pat, a nagging voice inside her felt something just wasn’t right.

Pat originally thought she was taking a mystery shopper job to research customer service at Wal-Mart. Her “employer” sent her a check for $845 and told her to deposit it in her account, keep $200 as her pay and buy something at Wal-Mart for $20 or less to test the skills of the cashier. After that, she was to wire the remaining $625 to someone in Manila, Philippines.

Pat was on her way to her bank to deposit the check when she started to have second thoughts.

When she got to her bank, she asked the teller. Luckily, that woman knew something about mystery shopping scams. She called her manager over, and together, they and Pat decided not to make the transaction.

Pat’s scammer is still badgering her to wire the money, but Pat says she’s wiser now: “The moral of the story is: Don’t send any money to someone you don’t know.”

Amen to that.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. You’ll also find a list of consumer contacts and tips.

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