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13 investigates local tour bus business and customer complaints

13 investigates local tour bus business and customer complaints story image
FALMOUTH (WGME) - CBS 13 is investigating several complaints from customers of a local tour bus business who tell us trips were canceled months ago, and they're still waiting for refunds.

Sisters Brenda McGovern and Bonnie Chisholm and their cousin Sharon Madreega say they've always wanted to visit Nashville, Tennessee. So when they saw a flyer for a 9 day, 8 night trip with Falmouth based Tour BUSters, they quickly signed up. Checks show the family trio paid Tour BUSters $1,980 last July. According to the flyer, the September trip was supposed to cover transportation, hotel, and more.

But days before the Nashville trip, it hit a bad note. They got a letter from owner Barry Somes postponing the adventure 2 months. Then that re-scheduled trip in November with Tour BUSters was a bust, as well.

"He said we would refund our money within 3 weeks to a month," McGovern said.

Now nearly a year after they booked and paid, they say they're still waiting to get that full refund. To date, they've only received $350, less than 20% of what they paid.

"It's very frustrating; it's my hard earned money," McGovern said.

"Where is all that money? Where is my money? Where is my sister's money? Where is my cousin's money?" Chisholm wants to know.

"Where did that money go?" CBS 13's Jon Chrisos asked owner Barry Somes.

"Cancellation fees, office overhead, rent, phone - just keeping the business open," Somes said.

Somes told us he had to cancel trips last year, including the Nashville trip, because not enough people booked to fill the bus.

"I've been doing this 30 years, and I ran into a case where several trips canceled all at once, economy, high oil bills put me behind," Somes said.

He said customers will get 100% back, but it's going to come in installments.

With 2 dozens complaints, the Better Business Bureau gives Tour BUSters an "F" rating. Records with the Maine Attorney General's Office show 9 complaints in the past year. Somes says he's now focusing on shorter trips, closer to Maine under a new business name: "Great Escapes Tour Company."

"Do you think people have reason to be concerned to book a trip with you because of complaints with the Attorney General's Office and complaints with the Better Business Bureau?" Chrisos asked.

"No, no and another thing. I discourage people from paying in advance. A modest deposit is all I need," Somes said.

Somes estimates he owes at least 25 customers refunds for trips that didn't happen. He says he's doing the best he can, but he wouldn't commit to when customers can expect to get a full refund. He says he'll continue to make refund payments when he can.13 investigates local tour bus business and customer complaints
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