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SOTC India — Case of financial loss & mental harassment after being forced to pay ad-hoc payment of inr 48,000/- by sotc on the day of travel
Dear Sir / Madam,
I’m raising this complaint after extreme mental & financial harassment from SOTC group representatives, which has turned our dream vacation of a lifetime into a complete nightmare. I would hence like to bring to your kind attention the malpractices engaged in my SOTC representatives & seek your kind intervention towards resolution of the sufferings we faced.
KEY POINTS FOR ADVERSE EXPERIENCE
• In a utter shock of disbelief, we were suddenly asked to pay INR 48, 000/- on the day of travel (25th May 8:00 pm) in transit from Pune to Mumbai for catching the flight to Zurich. We were communicated that the passport (with visa stamped) would not be delivered to us if the amount is not provided immediately.
• We were left with no choice but to agree & pay while being severely being inconvenienced on road with poor network signal during travel while being severely pressurized by SOTC representatives to make the payment. It looked a clear case of blackmailing & using circumstances conveniently to blackmail our emotion & constraints to extract money.
• The reason cited was delay in issue of visa and SOTC representative being flown from Delhi to Mumbai to deliver the passport to us only. Charges – INR 48, 000/-!!!
• Please note as per the quotation and T&Cs provided, SOTC is responsible for end-end timely delivery of Visa. Any charges due to delay of visa delivery cannot be charged to customer.
• Furthermore, we had clearly asked the SOTC sales representative front-ending us ‘n’ number of times at the time of booking with SOTC to be very specific that visa process would be completed on time with no unforeseen situations like the above, else we would not proceed with booking. The super-confident Sales representative was prompt enough to provide the assurance to the extent that visa would get processed appropriately on time & they had good contacts in embassy. They stressed that this is their responsibility & they’ve been in the profession for upteem number of years. Based on the assurance provided to us that Visa processing is SOTC responsibility, we proceeded with the booking. This charge at the extreme last moment during travelling amounts to a clear blackmail from SOTC. This inspite of our repeated followups with SOTC and getting false assurances everytime till the last moment (all documentation for such followups attached, not withstanding the fact the verbal followups were even 50 times higher in count).
• Worst of all, even after the payment was made under extreme circumstances, the passport was delivered late and we had to miss the flight. We were further asked to pay additional amount of INR 54, 000/- for the new booking which we have refused strongly and asked for a complete refund, post which new tickets were booked. We were stranded at Mumbai Airport for the whole night which took a big toll on us, both physically & medically, due to the negligence & blackmailing from SOTC just at the time of travel. The whole dream vacation package got turned to a bitter experience.
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
1. We booked “European Dreams” vacation package from SOTC on 13th April, 2023, after repeated verbal assurances from SOTC Sales representative when asked if Visa Processing & delivery would be done timely before travel and there would be no unforeseen circumstances attributed then as “Act of God”. He emphasized that this has been a part of their profession & they’ve been doing this job for all travellers.
2. Based on the assurance provided to us above, we proceeded with the booking
3. All documents required for Visa was provided to SOTC on April 17th.
4. Visa appointment date was scheduled in VFS, Mumbai Office on May 12th, 2023. We completed all formalities & made Visa payment as directed.
5. While we were provided the Air Tickets & Travel Vouchers from SOTC, we were apprehensive of the delivery timelines for the Visa. We started vigorously following up for Visa, both verbally, as well as over email, 5 days before travel (26th May).
6. The Sales representative maintained everytime there would be no issue & Visa processing would be completed well before the travel.
7. On May 25th evening, after mental trauma throughout the day, we were confirmed the visa processing is complete and would be delivered to us at Mumbai Airport. We started our journey from Pune at 25th May 7:30 pm towards Mumbai Airport accordingly.
8. In a utter shock of disbelief, we were suddenly asked to pay INR 48, 000/- on the day of travel (25th May 8:00 pm) in transit from Pune to Mumbai. We were communicated that the passport (with visa stamped) would not be delivered to us if the amount is not provided immediately.
9. The reason cited was delay in issue of visa and SOTC representative being flown from Delhi to Mumbai to deliver the passport to us only. Charges – INR 48, 000/-!!! We were left with no option but to pay given the constraints under extreme poor network signalling while SOTC representatives continued pressurizing.
10. Worst of all, even after the payment was made under extreme circumstances, the passport was delivered late by SOTC and we had to miss the flight. We were further asked to pay additional amount of INR 54, 000/- for the new booking which we have refused strongly and asked for a complete refund, post which new tickets were booked. We were stranded at Mumbai Airport for the whole night which took a big toll on us, both physically & medically, due to the negligence & blackmailing from SOTC just at the time of travel. The whole dream vacation package got turned to a bitter experience.
11. Complaint was raised with SOTC Management post return from vacation on 4th June, 2023.
12. Incident Ticket[protected] was provided by SOTC on 5th June, stating this is an important matter to us and be rest assured that every effort is being made to address the same at the earliest. No further action was taken post this.
13. Tried calling the escalation desk number of SOTC as provided to us multiple times without response.
14. Final communication from SOTC dated 12th May (after multiple mails to SOTC Leadership), attempting to dilute the matter by dishing out Service Line credit of INR 15, 000/- to dilute the issue, settle it cheaply to cover their wrongdoings & fault.
15. All options exercised before opting for legal re-course.
MAJOR GAPS OBSERVED IN THE WHOLE ILLEGITIMATE CLAIM PROCESS BY SOTC
• We were confirmed that SOTC representative was being flown from Delhi to Mumbai airport exclusively for delivering our passport & performing no other job. We’ve asked for boarding pass for both way travel – Delhi to Mumbai & Mumbai to Delhi as well as Airlines travel invoice to substantiate the claim of INR 48, 000/-, but was not provided.
• Inconsistencies in communication - We called the delivery person around 12 am and was communicated the Delhi flight was diverted to Ahmedabad due to technical failure. While other SOTC representative claimed flight delay from Delhi. Ultimately, we missed the flight for which the payment was made and was stranded outside Mumbai Airport for the whole night.
• The service log book (screenshot attached) shows delivery to multiple places before our passport was delivered, which seems to suggest the fare of INR 48, 000/- was just not borne for us. Also, the both way boarding pass & Airlines travel invoice for ad-hoc payment of INR 48, 000/- was not provided.
Having stated the above, visa processing & delivery is the responsibility of SOTC as per T&Cs, and we cannot be charged the ad-hoc payment. This is clearly an integrity issue from SOTC.
IMPACT / LOSSES WE FACED
• An amount of INR 48, 000/- under the name of ad-hoc payment without any logic or rationale as per Terms & Conditions. We demand refund.
• Due to delay in delivering passport (contrary to assurance by over-confident sales representative from SOTC, who maintained till last moment that everything will be good & we need not worry at all), we could not buy Forex in cash and had to avail a Forex card with 3.5% transaction charges. We had to spend an extra 28 Euro towards conversion charges just to pay SOTC for optional tour costs (Jungfrau, Illumination Tour of Eiffel Tower, Tips) on an amount of 732 Euro, which had to be paid in cash only. Amounts at INR 2, 576/- at conversion rate.
• Huge impact on physical & mental health due to harassment at the time of travel spoiling the dream Tour. Amounts to 50% of the Tour cost i.e. INR 3, 50, 000/-
• Not provided Airlines Travel invoice for IT Exemption for LTA despite followups.
• Any / All Legal expenses borne in the process & efforts taken. Bank interest for the loss amount
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