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Watchdog pays out another $19,000

A consumer watchdog has paid out another $19,000 to customers of a Richmond travel firm - bringing the total payout to almost $90,000.

A consumer watchdog has paid out another $19,000 to customers of a Richmond travel firm - bringing the total payout to almost $90,000.

Alameda Travels Ltd, in the Cambie district's Admiralty Centre, went bust overnight in April last year, robbing dozens of customers of pre-paid travel plans.

However, Consumer Protection BC stepped in last year and has been refunding wronged Alameda customers to the tune of more than $88,000, mainly for flights booked to Asia.

Last week, 16 more consumers were refunded $19,163 though BC's Travel Assurance Fund.

"A trip can be expensive. Booking with a BC-licensed travel agent can help protect that investment by giving you access to the Travel Assurance Fund," said Manjit Bains, vice president of Consumer Relations at Consumer Protection BC.

The Travel Assurance Fund received 68 claims, representing 113 impacted consumers, because of the closure of Alameda Travels.

While 52 claims are now approved, Consumer Protection BC is still waiting for supporting payment documentation for the remaining 16 claims, representing 22 consumers.

In 2013, more than $161,000 was paid out from the Travel Assurance Fund, impacting 167 consumers across the province.

Administered by Consumer Protection BC, the Travel Assurance Fund is a fund of last resort that provides possible compensation to consumers who paid for - but didn't receive - travel services purchased through a B.C.-licensed travel agent or


At the time, one News reader, Tingting Yao, accused Alameda's owner, Deanna Leung, of doctoring a cheque she'd made out to the company. When looking at her bank statement, Yao noticed the name on the cheque had been changed from the company's to the owner's.

However, the RCMP probed the firm's sudden closure, but found no cause for a criminal investigation at the firm on McKim Way.

Consumer Protection BC offers the following tips: 1. Pay with a credit card. Be cautious if a travel agency only accepts cash as a form of payment.

2. Keep proof of payment documentation. Ask for (and keep!) documentation for your travel services. This could include receipts, contracts, itineraries, boarding passes, hotel vouchers and more.

3. Research the limitations

of the Travel Assurance Fund.

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