View Full Version : Travel Agency Gone Bankrupt
2002-12-04, 12:06 AM
I had ordered plane tickets a couple months ago through "Beyond Travel". I'm supposed to visit the U.S. at the end of this month. I had a very unpleasant surprise when I went to pay off the balance yesterday, their account no longer existed. After phone calls to other agencies, American Airlines, a wholesale ticketing agency and finally the agency that my reservation has been handed to; I pieced the story together.
The company went bankrupt and didn't call me to warn me. They shut down their website and didn't leave so much as a message at their office telling their customers what to do. American Airlines couldn't even tell me how to pay off the balance of my ticket, they finally gave me the number to the wholesale place who handled my ticket. That place knew who had my reservation. It's crazy!
Here's the problem. I paid 20,000 yen to Beyond as my deposit. The new agency is telling me that they received none of the money for anyone and that everyone will have to pay as if their balance was 0. I understand that much, not their fault the old business went under. Do I stand a chance of getting my 20,000 yen back from the now non-existant "Beyond Travel"? The new agency is telling everyone to contact lawyers. The problem is that any time I mention the word "lawyer" to my Japanese friends and coworkers, they get really nervous and just tell me they don't know; end of story.
If the law says that I can't get a single yen back, then I'll accept that (won't like it but...). I just want someone to tell me what the law says in this case. If I need a lawyer to get the money for me, it's probably not worth it because they will cost more than what I get back. However, if it's simply a matter of going to the right place to claim it, I want my money back.
2002-12-04, 12:44 AM
Depending on the remaining assets of the company, you might get something back, a percentage of the residue, but join the line after taxes, administrators costs, and the large creditors, who take priority. And it will take a while to occur.
Basically, trying to tell you in a nice way, that while you might technically be entitled to something, in practice you stand almost zero chance of getting anything back. And it would take time and effort for that. Time is money! And especially if you have to pay a lawyer.
Put it down to experience, and be careful with those cheap ticket shops next time.
2002-12-04, 02:13 PM
me too, had the same experience with 'beyond,' however i had already paid the full balance for both mine and my boyfriends ticket, totalling in \165,000, i too had no contact from the company and am still in a no mans land as to what is going on, every time i call someone they say that they are too busy dealing with people who are travelling this week and will call me back soon! however all i know is that if we still want the tickets we ave to buy them again through a different agency 'far east travel'. My boyfriend spoke to the lawyer that was wrote on the webpage that was up for maybe 3 days, and she said that for the time being the police have taken all the money away, if the companys money is enough to cover their debts we will get our money back but the chance is very slim, if they dont have enough money they will take customers money to pay the debts, this process will take over 6 months apparently, but what i want to know is how will they contact us if and when they decide to give us any money back. i am not sure how the law works here, but i know that in other countries things like this would never happen.
please keep posting emails if you hear any more.
2002-12-04, 08:08 PM
Same thing happened to me as well. I found Beyond's ad on Metropolis magazine and decided to call them up. Everything went well: got my ticket reserved and paid the deposit (20,000 yen). However, I received a phone call from them asking me if I'd like to pay for my ticket by credit card in advance. It seemed kind of odd so I told them that I'd rather wait until the payment due date and do a bank transfer. Couple weeks later, I went to the bank to do a bank transfer and surprisingly, there was no account that I could transfer my money to. After many attempts of calling them, I decided to go visit Beyond Travel. Their door was locked and seemed like no one was in the office. The other building tenants told me that Beyond Travel packed up in one day and did a disappearing act.
I had just received a letter from Beyond's lawyer saying that another travel agency is holding my ticket and if I still want that ticket, I have to pay for the ticket fare PLUS the 20,000 deposit! Either way, I don't think I'd trust the other travel agency either. Who knows? They might go bankrupt too!! So, I resorted in giving up my trip to the states since there are many people on waiting lists.
I highly doubt that any of us will get our money back! It's an outrage!! But as TH said after everyone gets a piece of the pie, what's left for the rest of us?
Helen, I'm really sorry to hear that you paid full price for your tickets. What's going on with your situation?
I definitely learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Never trust small travel agencies! Always go for the big names...
End of rant,
2002-12-04, 10:46 PM
That sad thing is that I thought I could trust Beyond Travel. I had a very successful trip to Hong Kong this summer through them. Everything went smooth and customer service was great! Obviously things changed this time around.
Wow, they tried to get you to pay in full just before they went down?! That is suspicious.
And, I can't believe that you paid in full and won't get your tickets Helen!
That's terrible. Have you tried contacting your airline? American hasn't been much help for me, but if you paid in full so early, shouldn't the airline have already gotten their share? If you haven't called them, I would check. Plus, for the amount you paid, I would get aggressive with the airline over this one. I know for a fact that our reservations are still in their computers (unless you cancelled already). I figured in the case of 20,000 yen; perhaps the airline didn't get our money yet. However, I am completely shocked that they would just take your trip away like that.
Sorry, I'm ranting. On one hand, it's nice to hear from others in the same situation. On the other, I'm sorry to know that I'm not alone as well. Good luck and if anyone gets news, post it! Thanks.
2002-12-04, 10:48 PM
Oh, and does anyone know of a reliable English speaking travel agency in Japan? My Japanese is improving, but I still get nervous over big arrangements like that in Japanese. I'd rather not have to drag coworkers and friends to the travel agency with me. Then again, after this, it might be cost effective to get over it and go to JTB.
2002-12-07, 12:24 AM
I am one of the 300 people who have lost their money thanks to Beyond Travel. I had paid for my ticket to Italy - JPY 10,590 and the money is all gone. I spoke to the lawyer and was told we would be lucky to get 1% back. Such great consolation - NOT! Appartently, people who were going to the States were luckier because the payments had to be done by the end of November. Not all of them had all of their money transferred, but at least the deposits had been made.
Has anyone heard anything else?
2002-12-07, 04:48 PM
Ok Im another sucker who got shafted by Mr Mohammed Hai (president) of the now defunct Beyond Travel.
I have had legal advice from three Japanese sources: One of them is a lawyer and the brother in law of a japanese co-worker - he called the Lawyer handling the bankruptcy (Mr Kimura) and made enquiries on my behalf. The other friend is a corporate lawyer who called a colleague specialising in this area and he also called Mr Kimura. Finally a japanese friend called Mr Kimura also on my behalf.
Ok this is the general gist of what we can expect:
We are all of us now treated as small creditors (there are apparently some three hundred of us!!!). Under the law our claims take precedence - not the big creditors. To take individual action against Mr scumbag Hai it would be more than our tickets were worth.Therefore the advice is to leave it in the hands of the relevant court authority, and this may take up to six months. There was the suggestion that a fraud was commited, in that monies have been received for goods in the full knowledge that either these were never intended to be delivered or couldnt be delivered. In other words he knew his business was going down the toilet yet continued to collect our money.Under this premise, myself and my girlfriend are preparing a statement of complaint to the police authority requesting that he be at least investigated for fraud. I would suggest you do the same.
I have been talking to Tomoko Otake at the japan times who is currently researching this story and may well be running something on it. I would urge you all to contact her as I feel that maybe the more publicity this attracts the more chance of us getting something back and more importantly it may help to prevent this from happening again. All travel agents are required to lodge a bond of some 10,000,000 yen so there are at least some assets available in addition to anything he has had seized.
Ah...yes...he WAS NOT a member of JATA and, surprise surprise, apparently neither are the agents currently handling the existing reservations!!! A question presently burning in my mind is what is their connection to Beyond travel (how did they come to acquire his reservations?). Basically, the advice I have received about these guys is DO NOT DEAL WITH THEM!!
As for our travel plans....well...first christmas in Japan!! Anyone want to meet up for a drink somewhere (yes ,Im serious).
Feel free to e-mail me (I cant promise to answer your questions but I can at least share everything I already know - a problem shared etc....)
Final word....DONT LET THIS SPOIL YOUR CHRISTMAS...this aint the time of year to be bitter
Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year - may it arrive quickly!!
Marco V.V. Solas and Clare Barwick
2002-12-07, 09:22 PM
Thanks Marco for your update.
I told Tomoko about this loop so we might see her here too.
Does anyone know why Far East were chosen to help us out? There must have been some connection with Beyond.
I just had a look on JATA and there are 2000+ active and associate members. I wonder how many other discount travel agents are not part of it.
Has anyone gone ahead and used Far East?
2002-12-08, 01:16 AM
I feel ignorant. What is JATA? Is there a website? Can I read it? (i.e., do they have a non-kanji version because I don't think a 100 kanji character vocabulary will cut it.)
2002-12-08, 10:20 AM
JATA is the Japan Association of Travel Agents - www.jata-net.or.jp/english/
Btw, I must make a correction to my first post. I lost JPY 100,590.
I tried to contact the Airline (Alitalia) last Saturday but all they could say was contact the wholesaler - NTS. NTS told me to contact Far East. I have been pretty pleased with Far East's service. I am sure they have taken a lot of flack from people this week. That being said, I'd still like to know why and how they became the go-between for Beyond.
2002-12-08, 05:13 PM
Somebody should call up the Japan Times or Daily Yomiuri and see if they are interested in pursuing this story. They would have more resources than any of us in getting answers.
One thing I hate about Japan is the back transfer system, under which you have no recourse in the case of fraud or misunderstanding. If it were done by credit card it would be a lot simpler to sort out the above problems.
2002-12-08, 09:31 PM
As Marco wrote about, he has contacted the Japan Times. I have told Tomoko about this fourm so we might hear from her. I am hoping she can do some invesitigative journalism!
2002-12-13, 12:41 PM
Did anyone else get a fax from Beyond Travel like I did? Wonder what suddenly inspired that...
2002-12-13, 01:05 PM
I didn't get a fax. Can you please tell me what it said?
2002-12-13, 02:12 PM
i got the fax too, saying that they wanted to update records and could i please send them my address details, basically they wanted my address so that they could send me a nice letter saying thanks for your money weve gone bust!!!
well anyway i thought they wanted my address so they could send me junk mail and didnt do much about it. when i got round to contacting them i was too late and thats when i found out that they had gone bust. so now i wonder (if i do get any of my money back) how they will contact me seen as though i have moved apartments therefore the phone number they have to contact me is now void.
well anyhow my story is i paid \166,000 again for mine and my boyfriends tickets and went through far east, the company that took over beyonds accounts. they were quite good, understood my frustration and have paid virgin and have sent my tickets to me via takyubin, they understood that we dont trust anyone anymore and want proof that we are flying. so i can now fly home even though it cost me double the price
how about everyone else?
2002-12-14, 10:39 AM
I didn't want to use Far East because they wouldn't let me pay by VISA, and I wasn't going to take that risk again. One of my colleagues recommended a fantastic travel agent whose name is Hasegawa-san at Tristar.( 03-3797-3671) With permission from Far East, Tristar were able to take control of my booking, let me pay by VISA and delivered the ticket to my office for less than what I would have paid at Far East. I called a few other travel agents who said that it wasn't possible for another travel agency to take control of a booking. Hasegawa-san had it all taken care of in less than 24 hours. Now that is service!
2002-12-16, 12:06 AM
Natalie D.-I don't have the fax here (my apartment), it's at work unfortunately where the fax machine is. The gist was that a trustee has been assigned to the case and they want our addresses so that they can mail info as to how we could get a refund. I'll bring it back to my apartment Tuesday when I work again if you want.
Regarding Far East, they worked with me. Since I don't have a credit card I had no choice but to take the risk :(. However, they let me know when they got the tickets and sent them to me immediately for what seemed like a decent price (just over a 1,000 yen if I recall). It took only a few days and they called me each step of the way. Let me know when they sent the money to the airline, when they received the tickets and when the tickets were sent. However, I appreciate the info on the other travel agent. I might just use them next time!
2002-12-18, 05:05 PM
Below is the link to today's story in the JT about this travel agency. I found it well-written, well-researched, and full of some interesting info about how these agencies work.
The only question remaining is why did the omnipresent Kent Brockman allow the JT to scoop him on this one?
2002-12-24, 11:40 PM
WOW!! Big Surprise. I thought I should update y'all on my situation.
I had given up all hopes of getting a ticket to go to the states but then I received a call from Far East (Sakurai-san) on Dec. 23rd. He was basically calling to see if I was still interested in my reservation that I had made with Beyond previously. I thought they would've given it away but they were still holding a spot for me. (Mind you, I was planning on leaving Japan on Dec. 27th). I think any travel agency would have given the seat away if no confirmation was made in advance. I asked if they accepted credit cards but they didn't so I took the risk and made a bank transfer to their account. Sakurai-san was very courteous and efficient. He called me to make sure I knew what was going on and in less than 15 hours, I had received a flight confirmation, tickets, etc. I thought I should mention them here since they probably got a lot of flack from Beyond's unsatisfied customers.
Yay!!! I'm flying out on on the 27th. Happy Holidays to you all....
My agent went bust in Dec 2001( Sweet Travel). I made a claim through theTokyo Metropolitan Government and got back about 70% of what I had paid. This took over a year. But is better than nothing.
The phone number of the office in Tocho is 03-5320-4769
You`ll need a Japanese speaker to help you with this.
2003-11-07, 07:14 PM
I wanted to let you all know that I received a letter from the government agency dealing with the claims (sorry - I dont know their correct name) yesterday. It looks like I will receive 20% back.