US Government Shutdown (October 2013)

From October 1 through 16, 2013, the United States federal government entered a shutdown and curtailed most routine operations after Congress failed to enact legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014, or a continuing resolution for the interim authorization of appropriations for fiscal year 2014. Regular government operations resumed October 17 after an interim appropriations bill was signed into law.

And just like that our holiday took a dramatic turn for the worse.

This is why you shouldn’t rely on your Travel Agent

Once we understood the ramifications the government close down we immediately rang our Travel Agent back in Australia to resolve our accommodation for October 5 (we had planned to stay in the Grand Canyon National Park) and October 6 (staying in Phoenix).

We had rung our accommodation in the Grand Canyon and informed we could cancel and get a full refund or we could wait and see and if the close down wasn’t resolved, we would automatically receive a refund.

We also rang through to our San Diego accommodation and they informed us that we could extend our stay by 2 nights, but the accommodation provider would need to receive confirmation via our Travel Agent’s wholesale provider.

We explained all this to our Travel Agent, yet when we rang back the following day our Travel Agent informed us that everything was normal and to continue with our itinerary. I begged to differ and suggested that the Travel Agent might like to investigate a little deeper than they had.

By now it was Wednesday US time, but Thursday Australian time and time was running short to resolve our accommodation for October 5 and October 6. We had visions of sleeping two nights on the side of the road.

Fortunately when we rang back Thursday US time (Friday Australian time), our Travel Agent was able to confirm that we had an extra two nights accommodation in San Diego, and that depending on what (if any) refund received for the cancelled accommodation , there might be added costs to pay on our return to Australia.

We did receive confirmation that our Grand Canyon accommodation would be refunded, but no refund would be given by the accommodation provider in Phoenix.

Unfortunately, we can’t prove anything, but we suspect the reason for no refund forthcoming from the Phoenix accommodation provider is due to the short notice that was given by the Travel Agent’s wholesale provider.

We believe most accommodation providers offer a full refund less an administration fee provided at least 48 hours prior notice is given. If the Travel Agent’s wholesale provider had notified the Phoenix accommodation provider when we first contacted our Travel Agent we would have received almost a full refund.

However, as the accommodation wasn’t cancelled until Thursday US time, no refund would be considered.

Taking into account the many omissions and mistakes made by our Travel Agent we will in future attempt to make all our own arrangements and be in total control of our arrangements, and not rely on a Travel Agent .

Rant and whine over!