TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It was supposed to be a bucket list adventure to celebrate our veterans until the trip of a lifetime turned into a trip to nowhere.
Now, hundreds of travelers are out thousands of dollars, and many may not even know.
“Part of the thing that stings the most is that these were trips that were tailored to veterans,” said Alana Stevens.
Stevens, who lives in Tucson, said she wanted to surprise her army veteran husband and WWII history buff with a big trip for his 50th birthday.
“He is a disabled vet. He was a paratrooper,”Steven said.
Stevens said she purchased a WWII tour through Germany through Beyond Band of Brothers Tours. She said she paid the company about $5,000.
With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Stevens said she tried to contact Beyond Band of Brothers Tours to make sure their September trip was still on schedule.
“I Googled Beyond Band of Brothers and the website was black,” Stevens said.
While searching for answers, Stevens said she stumbled upon a Facebook group called, “Beyond Band of Brothers Dishonest.”
Sandra Weightman, who lives in Florida, created the group after she learned her brother-in-law and sister-in-law could not get in touch with the company either.
The group now has more than 1,000 members and they have learned through their own research that Beyond Band of Brothers Tours filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida.
Stevens said her family lost $11,000 on the trip and has not received a refund.
The KOLD Investigates Team obtained bankruptcy documents that show nearly 2,000 travelers are out a total of roughly $11 million. Arizona families make up about $256,000.
“There are 47 people in the State of Arizona that are affected by this. Seven of which are in the Tucson/Marana area,” Stevens said.
Stevens said she is writing letters to people who are not in the Facebook group and may not know the company is bankrupt.
The KOLD Investigates Team received a letter from a Tucson couple who said they paid Beyond Band of Brothers nearly $18,000.
Sam and Debbie said they hoped the trip overseas would help them retrace Debbie’s father’s steps on Omaha Beach where he was captured by German forces on what would become Debbie’s birthday. The couple said he was held prisoner for ten months.
“It’s very sad. All of this money is gone and these people worked so hard for it and it’s gone in an instant,” said Weightman.
As people have searched for answers, Dr. Mark Bielsky with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours out of Louisiana said they have received a number of calls and messages from travelers thinking they had booked a trip with their trademarked Band of Brothers Tours.
“It’s a tour we have done since 1979 since Dr. Ambrose wrote the book and was a consultant on the HBO miniseries,” Dr. Bielsky said.
So many people thought they were affiliated, the company created a notification on the website letting people know there is no connection between the companies.
Many travelers said they purchased trip insurance through Travelex, the company recommended by Beyond Band of Brothers Tours.
Some travelers said their claims have been denied. The KOLD Investigates Team contacted Travelex to learn more about recourse for travelers.
The company sent us this statement:
“The Travelex Insurance Risk and Compliance team is working in conjunction with out underwriter Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company and the attorney for the Federal Bankruptcy Trustee appointed by the Federal Court for the Middle District of Florida to address the Procom America LLC (Beyond Band of Brothers) bankruptcy filings. It is in the best interest of our policy holders and partners not to comment on legal matters with the media. Any traveler that has been affected may contact the attorney for the bankruptcy (Stuart Levine) at 813-254-7474 to learn about their options in the bankruptcy process.”
According to the West Florida BBB file, the business profile has an out of business alert, a general business alert, and a pattern of complaints alert. The general business alert states the following for consumers who have complaints against the company “If you have an unresolved dispute with this company you may wish to seek legal advice, file a complaint with your State Attorney General and/or file a dispute with your credit card company.” There are currently 39 unanswered complaints in their file.
The KOLD Investigates Team also contacted the the Arizona Attorney General’s office who provided the following tips:
- If you paid for the trip by credit card, contact your credit card company and see if they will reverse the charges.
- If you purchased travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage, contact the insurance company to see if they will refund you.
- Consumers who have been unable to obtain a refund can also file a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court. The deadline to file a proof of claim in this matter is August 13, 2020.
The case number is 8:20-bk-03522-MGW. To obtain information regarding the bankruptcy filing, consumers can call the voice case information system (VCIS) at 1-866-222-8039, ext. #91.
Meanwhile, members of the Facebook group are following the bankruptcy proceedings in Florida while taking it upon themselves to contact travelers who may not know their trip of a lifetime has turned into a trip to nowhere.