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Need advice on getting a refund

I need some advice on getting a refund from a food tour guide in Paris. We booked the tour and paid her via Paypal before leaving the US. On the day of our scheduled tour, she called at the last minute to reschedule. On the day of the rescheduled tour, she didn't show up. After a couple of hours, we got a text from her saying she'd had an emergency. Per the terms of our contract with her, our refund should have been issued within 30 days. It's now been almost 40. I've exchanged a couple of emails with her, and after a variety of excuses, was finally told that the refund has been sent. But I think she's still jerking us around. We are now back in the States, and I'm not really sure what options I have for pursuing her legally. Should I call the Paris police and file a report? Should I sue her? Is there a French equivalent of a Better Business Bureau to whom I can report her? Any advice would be appreciated.

Posted by
7648 posts

No direct experience, but could "Paypal" be of assistance? Someone using their service then not delivering is a concern, they may have leverage to reverse the transaction or at the minimum block her from using the service further. Probably any other avenues would not be worth the $ you are out.

Posted by
23420 posts

I am sure the Paris police would be excited about taking a complaint from an unhappy America tourist. In the US, the police would say it is a civil matter. Probably the same in France. I would start with paypal and work on getting your refund through them. Have you ask paypal what they can and cannot do?

Posted by
3122 posts

I'm afraid I don't have any knowledge of how to get the refund, but in the future and for other travelers I wonder if it's fair to say be wary of a tour that requires payment in advance? How typical is it for small tour operators to charge in advance?

Posted by
16894 posts

I would expect her to process the refund through PayPal, unless she said she had mailed you a check, but that would not be convenient with the different currencies. What does your PayPal account balance say? If it's not there yet, I'd also start with alerting them.

Posted by
21 posts

Actually, a lot of tours and companies require payment in advance. Aside from this one tour operator, we had no problems. My mistake was that I didn't research her very well. I relied on the review of one blogger, and the quality of her website - which is excellent. But looks can be deceiving. If I had looked further, I would have realized that there was virtually no information about her or her tours anywhere online. What was there was several years old. I did post on this forum to ask if anyone had used her. I waited a few days and then went ahead and booked. AFTER I paid her, someone responded to my post and described exactly what wound up happening to us. But by then it was too late.
I don't care so much about the money. I want the refund, but that's not the biggest thing. It just makes me angry that she did this to us, and obviously has done it to others. She's an American, so she's living in Paris on some sort of visa, and defrauding tourists. It's infuriating.

Posted by
10289 posts

How did you find this person in the first place? If on line, You could put a report. This doesn't solve the monetary problem, but it warns others.

If this person is a government certified guide, called a guide conferencier in French, you could report it to official organization: fngi.fr. If this person is one who has set up shop with no certification but has self-declared as a guide, there's nothing you can do. Perils of the internet economy. Edit: I see your above post now.

Posted by
5837 posts

https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/security/buyer-protection-resolution

Did something go wrong when making a purchase with PayPal? Did your
order not arrive? Did something arrive that was very different than
described? The first step is to dispute the transaction through us.
We’ll facilitate communication between you and the seller to see if
things can be worked out. Many disputes are caused by
misunderstandings, and they're often easy to resolve. However, if you
and the seller can’t reach an agreement on your own, you can escalate
your dispute to a claim. We’ll investigate and make a decision in
favor of either you or the seller.

Do us a favor and report back as to the PayPal dispute process. My experience with credit card disputes have been very positive (all in my favor).

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you, everyone. I have filed a report with Paypal. I'll update the thread when I get a response.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you to those who suggested I contact Paypal. They were great and I finally got my refund. Apparently, the tour guide attempted to issue my refund by e-check, instead of crediting it back to my credit card. She did not have sufficient funds to cover the e-check, so Paypal refunded the money to me themselves. I assume they will pursue her for reimbursement. Once I spoke to a Paypal representative, and they realized what was happening, the money was in my account within 3 business days. I cannot say enough about their customer service.
As far as the tour guide is concerned - her name is Wendy Lyn. I don't know if she is a con-artist or just has a terrible business model. Either way, I would discourage anyone from booking a tour with her.

Posted by
2466 posts

Wendy Lyn doesn't seem to be able to live up to her promises and has received bad reviews on other travel/food related websites.
She caters mainly to very high rollers and groups of wine merchants who want insider tips on how to run things like the French do. She isn't looking to bother with anyone who does not fit these profiles, because she's a consultant and is looking to drum up more business.

I've seen her in action in a couple of different restaurants - she annoys the staff with constant special demands, and thinks everything is OK if her clients just throw a large tip on the table.

Frankly, she is not the "legend" she claims to be - you should congratulate yourself on not missing anything.

Posted by
21 posts

Chexbres - before booking with her, I searched for reviews and couldn't find any - good or bad. That should've been my first clue. I also posted an inquiry on here, but got very little response. Finally, one person did respond with a story exactly like what happened to me, but by then I had already booked. I did it against my better judgment, and obviously lived to regret it. I will follow my instincts on these things from now on. Fortunately, every other experience that we had in Paris was wonderful.

Posted by
2466 posts

ginnaskennedy - There are a whole lot of "self-made" English-speaking tour guides in Paris. Most tend to deal with "foodies", who seem to take the bait more readily than tourists who are interested in history or art, for example. I guess it's just part of the Paris fantasy - or maybe people are just hungry : )

I'm glad that you got your money back, and though you can't leave reviews on her website, you should definitely share your experience by any means possible.

Posted by
9429 posts

Ginnaskennedy, Post a warning to others on this forum under Tourist Scams and again, under Reviews. Also post on TripAdvisor.com, Fodors.com, etc.

Posted by
1062 posts

I would let her know that you are very good on social media and that if you don't receive any refund, not only will you be contacting the authorities, you will be very active on all social media telling your story. I would also send her a link to your thread here just to let her know you are serious.

Posted by
20309 posts

Sounds like ginnaskennedy got her refund, and I would not characterize this as a "Tourist Scam". Chexbres seems to have her number. Hustling promoter that occasionally can't deliver. Fair game on Trip Advisor.

Posted by
9429 posts

Sam, since there is no "Hustling Promoter" section on this forum, Tourist Scams will work. Doesn't matter exactly where, my point is I would post a warning to others wherever I could.

Posted by
20309 posts

I have already been admonished once by the Webmaster about use of the word "Tourist Scam". It is willful intent to deceive, which I don't think applies in this case. "Lack of integrity" maybe, "bad business practice" possibly, "Chutzpah over substance" certainly.

Posted by
11507 posts

If one googles her name what comes up.. would this thread appear?

Posted by
2466 posts

It might - but if the OP hasn't actually gone on the tour, she can't leave a review on TA, Yelp or any other review site. FaceBook might work.

Wendy Lyn has never permitted any comments on her various websites, for obvious reasons.

Posted by
3292 posts

I recently had a private tour guide cancel our two days' worth of tours at the last minute. I was able to post a review on TripAdvisor.

Posted by
9429 posts

Sounds like willful intent to deceive to me.

Posted by
2466 posts

It might not be intent to willfully deceive.
Wendy Lyn's job requires her to entertain high-rollers in the food and wine industry, long after most restaurants have closed for the night.

It's probably not easy to get up the next day just to keep appointments for those who only want a couple hours of her time.

I didn't think that you could post a review on TA unless you had actually gone on a tour or whatever. Most review sites prohibit this practice.

Posted by
21 posts

I have posted negative reviews where I can, but it is hard because she does not have a listing on TripAdvisor or some of the other big websites. The best I can do is post on forums like these. I don't know if it's willful intent to deceive, or just a terrible business model. Either way, I don't feel sorry for her if she stays up too late at night to get up to lead her extremely expensive food tours the next day. If you can't provide the service, don't offer it. And if you don't follow through, give the refund immediately.

Posted by
81 posts

The Paypal dispute process, especially originating from France is LONG, but it does work. In my case it took almost 3 months for the credit to be issued. This was not at the fault of the vendor who issued the credit, but a rather cumbersome intermediary process run by Paypal itself. In either case, definitely file complaint with PayPal because this will impact this vendor's "credit"