Travel firm may not be a fraud, but it sure has its troubles

The economics ministry’s consumer division came out Thursday with a warning about a Florida travel firm that is making telephone calls into Costa Rica.

The firm offers trip packages to Florida’s South Beach and also cruise deals that may range up to several thousand dollars.

The Oficina de Apoyo al Consumidor said that the firm is not registered with the ministry and that the Internet suggested that the travel offer is fraudulent. The consumer office said that callers were seeking credit card numbers and security codes.

The firm is Millennium International, which has at least three attractive videos on YouTube. There also are a few negative postings, including one from a man in Argentina who said he was trying to get his money back without success.

The CEO of the firm has a different story. He is Carlos Rodriguez, who said on his Facebook page that he is the founder of the company. He reports a tale that would ring true to anyone in the travel business whether it is true or not.

Rodríguez said that an employee absconded with the confidential data of the firm, went into business for himself and had employees call customers and brand the former employer as a fraud.

But it gets worse. The ex-employee, according to Rodriguez, urged customers to dispute charges already posted to credit cards. This resulted in credit card companies reversing some $300,000 in payments and nearly bankrupting Millennium, said the CEO.

The company operates on a margin of about 20 percent for the travel deals and commissions already had been paid on the transactions being disputed, said the CEO. Instead of closing the door, the firm decided to move its reservation operation to México to save money, he said.

But it gets worse. Through lack of leadership, the Mexican reservation operations had serious problems and about 2 percent of the reservations had not been processed, he said.

Rodriguez said that the firm has been hammered on the social networks and that he is struggling to maintain the firm’s name and goodwill.  His explanation was undated.

The warning from the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio and the travails of the Florida firm provide good reasons to seek tour packages and tickets from local agencies.

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