DEAR SUN SPOTS: Recently there have been several letters in Sun Spots pertaining to tours offered by TourBUSters/Great Escapes of Falmouth. On June 30 WGME-TV presented an investigative report concerning financial difficulties TourBUSters (now Great Escapes) has been having.

Specifically, people were interviewed who reported that their reserved tours (to Nashville) were canceled. They were promised refunds, which, as covered by WGME, have yet to be sent. The owner of Great Escapes (and TourBUSters), Barry Somes, explained that finances have been tight, though he hopes that monies lost can be returned to his customers.

Contrary to recent items in Sun Spots, which praised the services of TourBUSters and Great Escapes, we ourselves have experienced a monetary loss due to a cancellation of a reserved tour to Atlanta. We paid $1,950 up-front to secure two seats on a tour in November 2013.

The tour was cancelled and we were promised a refund, but more than six months after the cancellation, we have only received $50 toward the nearly $2,000 we paid. Now, our trip was made through Tour Busters, which, apparently, is now defunct and replaced by Great Escapes. His lawyer has communicated with us asking that we be patient and that a full refund will be forthcoming. So far, no more than the $50 as been received.

After reviewing the switch to Great Escapes and the problems others are reporting in not receiving their refunds, it appears that the business practices of TourBUSters/Great Escapes are reminiscent of scams we keep hearing and reading about since the last recession.

Thanks for your attention to one truly “busted” customer! — Ray Richard, Auburn, [email protected]

ANSWER: Sun Spots received two other letters from unhappy customers of TourBUSters. Fortunately, they had paid for their trips with credit cards and received reimbursements thanks to dispute resolution through their banks.

Even if you used a credit card, it may be too late to go that route, as there are usually time limits for disputes, but you might want to check. (Sun Spots always recommends using a credit card whenever possible rather than cash or check, as once your check has cleared you have very little recourse other than the courts.) 

As for being a scam, Sun Spots thinks that is a bit strong. Scammers don’t generally call and offer to pay in installments. She thinks Barry got into financial trouble during hard times and is trying to work his way back, even if it is a struggle. Indications on the Better Business Bureau website are that he is trying to rectify the situation but that not all customers are pleased with those efforts.

Readers can review the WGME story at http://tinyurl.com/psogvqs

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Again I thank you for the wonderful job you do in keeping us interested in Sun Spots. But I have a question. The June 24 column concerned those in charge of trips, and I didn’t see my name, because if someone would like to take a day trip with us, I still have three left for the season:

* Wednesday July 16, a shopping trip at stores that we don’t have around this area.

* Sunday, Sept. 7,  the musical comedy “Witches of Eastwich” at the Ogunquit Playhouse.

* Saturday Nov. 15, Beacon Resort for our annual Christmas meal and show.

For more information or a flier on the trips, please contact me, the trip coordinator. — Bert Dutil, [email protected], 786-2305

ANSWER: The column you saw was not a list of all those in charge of trips. In response to a query about available bus tours, many people wrote in and those were their letters recommending various services.

Your name did appear in the original response to the first query. Perhaps you missed the June 14 column where Sun Spots reprinted a recent Connections item about your tours, including the ones you’ve mentioned in your letter?

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Another company that offers bus tours that pick up in Lewiston and Auburn is Alpine Leisure Tours, 207-786-7600, alpinetoursme.com. I’ve gone on several of their trips, and they are fantastic! — No Name, Lewiston

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Hope you can add another comment on great tour services. I have enjoyed and can vouch for the four-star service provided by Alpine Leisure Tours, which advertises in the Sun Journal plus has been in business for many years.

You can call them for free brochures at 207-786-7600 or check out their website at www.alpinetoursme.com for great, professional service.

Always enjoy reading Sun Spots. Keep up the great work. — B., Turner

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]


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