YOU ARE HERE: Technoodling CashCashPinoy Travel Scandal! [updated]
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CashCashPinoy Travel Scandal! [updated]

UPDATE: CashCashPinoy has responded to this story. Read it here

So here’s the deal (literally): CashCashPinoy, one of the more popular online voucher websites, offers a number of travel packages (often under its other trade name, CashCashTravel) to various destinations locally and internationally.

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While we don’t doubt that there are good deals available on the site, you have to be aware that their international offerings, in particular, could be bordering on being called out as scams. We shall use the information of one very upset customer to illustrate.

Customers A and B bought a Tokyo tour package from CashCashPinoy in October of last year. This is what the offer promised:

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The offer promises inclusion of air fare, accommodations, breakfast, transfers and a tour. Very specifically, it promises an “original price” of 45,000 pesos, now down to just 20,988. It explicitly promises “up to 54 percent off” on its promo.

But take a look at what’s not included: specifically, airline fuel and fees surcharge.

This is the big, deceptive loophole of the deal. We’ll get back to that in a while.

The deal requires at least two buyers in order to be fulfilled, which is why Customers A and B bought one each, for a total outlay of P41,976. Not bad for a Tokyo tour package indeed.

Here’s the problem… and why it looks like a scam.

While the offer details state the name of the travel agency behind this, Alva Travel Corp. at Bonifacio Global City, there is no specific details about just how much additional fees you will have to pay. The only clue you have are the “What’s not included” portion, with no peso details.

When Customers A&B got in touch with Alva Travel Corp to ask about the additional fees, however, they were shocked to find out that the “airline fee” (fuel surcharge, airline taxes, aviation fee, and “admin fee”) amounted to 17,888 per person, or 35,776. Add to that the travel insurance of 1,200 per person and tipping of 460 per person, plus Japan visa assistance of 2,200 per person, and…

Why it smells like a scam

The total additional outlay asked for the trip is P43,496. Or 21,748 per person.

If you remember, the vouchers cost P41,976. So the additional outlay is actually more than the voucher cover price. Literally, the voucher value is just the tip of the iceberg here.

We would understand additional fees of just 3,000 pesos, or 5,000 pesos, or even at most 12,000 pesos. But for the additional fees to be even more than the voucher value?

CashCashPinoy bears responsibility for this deceptive trade practice. Why? Because implicit in any deal voucher is the understanding that it covers most of your expected expenses. For CashCashPinoy to be offering a deal like this, where the additional fees are even greater than the voucher price, makes them a willing accomplice to what is essentially a bait-and-switch tactic.

CashCashPinoy is doing something that the DTI can very well find as illegal. Which is why we shall be bringing it to their attention. (Ed. note: apparently, some of you have already tried to bring your own complaints about these same deals to the DTI… and nothing happened.)

Their loophole is in fact disingenuous: by splitting air fare into “air fare”, which is covered by the voucher, and “airline fuel”, which is not, they can claim that it’s your fault for not paying attention to the details. Because, come to think of it, airline fuel could be the most expensive part of the travel. Of course.

But to an excited voucher buyer, that is a fine print that is not immediately noticed.

In fact, under their “What We Love” writeup for the deal, they clearly say that “All packages are inclusive of airfare, transfers, and daily breakfasts for your convenience.” This deceptive summarization implies that the plane fare is completely taken care of.

The voucher also claims an “original price” of 45,000. If you do the math, this means that the total travel expense would have been 45,000 plus 21,748 per person, or 66,748 per person. This is preposterous considering that you can get very good Japan tour packages at from 30,000 to 40,000 per person.

With the voucher promo, the total cash outlay per person would be 42,736.

So we ask you: Is this really a good deal for a Japan tour? And how could they even promise “Up to 54% off” on deals like these?

Customers A&B sent a letter of complaint to CashCashPinoy, and this is their reply:

We understand that you want to refund your vouchers. However, as clearly stated in our terms and conditions, all CashCashPinoy vouchers are not valid for cash back. In addition to this, we diligently explained in our deal terms all the necessary details about the deal that has to be understood by our customers.

“Diligently explained,” you say. But what you didn’t say is that your deal results in a scam-like situation. The most important “necessary details” were not on your offer.

So buyer beware. These so-called deals on CashCashPinoy may not be real deals, and you’re not getting the “discounts” promised. This is sheer and outright deception.

Update and Edit:

The CEO of CashCashPinoy has gotten in touch with us, and we appreciate the reach-out. After hearing them explain their side of the issue, we have decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and downgrade the matter (and the title) from “Scam” to, well, “Scandal” … which is less pointed.

Tomorrow (Thursday), we will print the CEO’s statement so that you will see if it merits the “downgrade.” And then on Friday, we shall close this with our synthesis of the matter.

 

Art

Art

Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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