Countless people across the country are reporting Book-It canceled their trips without refunds.
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PANAMA CITY BEACH — A local third-party travel agency has gone incognito after canceling all their travelers’ trips without refund.
According to Chicago resident Shelia Ashley, her dispute with the Panama City Beach-based company BookIt dates back to March 20, when she stumbled across a notice on the group’s website confirming the mass cancellation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I was literally sick to my stomach," Ashley said. "As a single parent trying to just save enough money to enjoy a vacation ... my heart went into the pit of my stomach."
In addition to her, three of her friends were also a part of the June 17 trip to Jamaica. All are now out roughly $1,500," she said.
Attempts to reach BookIt for comment were unsuccessful.
While searching for more information, Ashley discovered the Facebook group "Scammed by BookIt," which was created about a week ago by New York resident Deborah Ohls. It currently has nearly 600 members and is composed of countless anecdotes of fraud.
"People are really (upset)," Ohls said. "I figured I’d get 50 people in my group, and we’d talk about it and try to find different ways to get our money back.
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"It’s the same story told different ways," she added.
Ohls, like Ashley, found out about her trip being canceled from the notice on the group’s website.
Unlike Ashley, who said Chase Bank basically told her that it wasn’t their problem, Ohls was given a provisional credit by Capital One for her $4,200, eight-day trip to Cancun in May.
Ohls added that Capital One has given BookIt 90 days to respond to the dispute. Neither she or Ashley have been able to get in touch with anyone from the company, despite numerous calls, emails and social media messages.
"There were literally people stranded in other countries (because) BookIt had not paid their hotels (using the money they already put toward their trips)," Ashley said. "There are (also) people who had destination weddings, who have spent $20,000, $30,000, who are just out of that money right now."
Looking ahead, both said they were concerned if potentially filing for bankruptcy or the federal stimulus package could protect BookIt from having to issue refunds.
"It sounds like it was a company that was going under to begin with and I think they might have used the COVID-19 thing as an excuse," Ohls said. "I feel that it’s going to be on the back burner for a while with everything else that’s going on, which is OK, but if (BookIt) did anything criminal, which I believe they did ... I’m hoping that the Florida (attorney general) digs it up."