Westcoast Connection Travel
Added on -, by Reviewer1651503
Review: My son, ******* ***** ******** *****, age ****, was prematurely and unjustly sent home from Europe after one week of his four-week tour. Obviously, the company made a windfall as all payments were made before the trip; Westcoast Connection selectively and arbitrarily sent my innocent son home and profited from his dismissal. Here is his account of the ciruimstances that led to his dismissal in his own words: It was the day of the disco and almost everyone on the tour thought that it would be more fun if we drank a little more than the two glass a day limit set by the company. **** bought a handle the first or second day and he bought two more in ******. Before dinner, a group of us- ****, ****, ****, ****, ****, and myself- gathered in one of the hotel rooms to have a little bit to drink. We all passed around the first bottle and everyone except for **** had sips. More alcohol was put into a plastic water bottle for later in the night. **** carried around ****’s alcohol in his backpack the rest of the night. At dinner along with a glass of beer, **** and **** poured some mint flavored alcohol into their water glasses and continued drinking, **** drinking substantially more than ****. I tried a sip but it tasted disgusting. After dinner **** gave us a break to get dinner or walk around the small town so a group of us gathered to talk near a bench. **** got out his water bottle and basically drained the whole thing himself. At that point even **** was taking some more sips. Finally it was time to meet at the disco and that’s when everything started to go downhill for ****. **** ordered a round of large beers for everyone using his credit card, a nice gesture but out of the ordinary for sure. Everyone was dancing and having a good time, I danced a little bit and watched some Wimbledon. **** eventually sat down and put his head on the table as if to sleep, but soon it became clear that he was out of control. I went outside along with **** and **** to talk about how we could help ****, but before we could do anything **** grabbed **** and brought him outside, throwing him to the corner of the ground and staircase. He started interrogating ****, but we told him that it obviously was not the time to as **** any questions. He told me to go inside and get **** who had ****’s backpack. **** was forced to answer some questions and **** was rustled up. **** sent ****, ****, ****, and me in a car owned by a local townsperson and I was back at the hotel in a few short minutes. Because I had not said anything to **** regarding my place in all the drama, I assumed that he found me innocent and decided to put me in the first car home. Once I returned to my room I went to sleep, it was a long night that was just going to get longer. Around one in the morning **** woke me up and quickly asked if I drank anything. Half asleep and still believing that I would not be punished for ****’s actions, I admitted that I had a little bit to drink. I went back to bed, but I was awoken again at three in the morning to sign a paper that validated what I had told **** a few hours prior. I thought it strange, but imagined it was just a formality that everyone did. I was pulled out of bed for the last time at five in the morning, brought down to the hotel lobby, and told that I would have to be sent home for my actions. I tried to call my mother on her cell phone, but after about five or six attempts, **** said we could try again in the morning. So in the morning I approached **** just after speaking to my mom and tried to call her again, but there was again no answer. I figured it meant that without my parent’s permission to take me home, they would not be able to do a thing. A couple hours later they said to get my things because we were leaving for a train to the airport and later a plane home. On the way we had to stop by the hospital to pick up ****, but they were not ready to release him so we waited for a few more hours. Even after a four hour train ride to the airport and a couple more hours to the hotel, **** nor anyone with me had talked to my parents. More than the five that were sent home drank outside the limits of the contract, however they lied and are still on the trip. At the disco ****** approached me and told me that she and ****** drank vodka or something on their own as well. I also was told that the kids from Chicago bought a bottle and shared it with their own little group. **** and Even both drank with our group, but denied that they had anything to do with it. That night, **** only came to seven people’s doors to ask if they had anything to drink. ****, ****, and I were targeted and manipulated by **** late and night in order to provide the greater company with people to send home. Had there been a slightly larger investigation by ****, and had everyone else been honest, I believe that only one person would be going home for his irresponsibility, and I would be in Italy eating delicious pasta.Desired Settlement: I would like a refund, an apology, and assurance that my complaint is published in consumer reports and reviews. As of now, there are no complaints about this company, and I suspect that vulnerable participants may be marked, set up, and sent home early in order to increase profit margins. Obviously, a difficult thing to prove, but if a pattern of this conduct can be identified, I will feel vindicated.
August *, 2013
This is a response to your letter dated July **, 2013 with complaint from **** ******** ***** regarding her son ******* ***** ******** ******* travel experience with us in July 2013.
This client was enrolled on a program with us and the cost paid to us for this trip was $7,899 not quite the $12,000 amount she reports. (This is the first of other inaccuracies in her letter.)
This client’s claim that her son was unjustly and arbitrarily sent home and was innocent is fortunately all wrong and refuted by her own factual account.
To begin with, their enrollment contract that they completed includes the following terms:
Travel arrangements and Rules. I authorize WCC (Westcoast Connection) and its representatives to make arrangements, accommodations, rules and regulations they may deem advisable, in their discretion, for the well-being and welfare of all TRIP MEMBERS. TRIP MEMBERS are expected to comply with all WCC rules and regulations.
WCC reserves the right to dismiss any TRIP MEMBER from the program that staff believes, in their discretion, presents a safety concern or medical risk, is disruptive, or otherwise conducts him or herself in a manner detrimental to the program.
• If TRIP MEMBER is dismissed or departs from the WCC program for any reason, no refunds can be granted. I am responsible for all costs of early departure, whether for medical reasons, dismissal, personal emergencies or otherwise.
They subsequently completed a form called “TRIP MEMBER and PARENT EXPECTATIONS AGREEMENT” which both ******* and his mother **** signed on April **, 2013. We can make a copy available if needed. We wish to emphasize that over 90% of our trips have a zero tolerance of any alcohol, wine or beer amongst other safety restrictions. On less than 10% of our trips that are for students who are completing 11th & 12th grades and in Europe we allow local culture and custom in European countries that allows wine & beer with several restrictions outlined below. The form they signed for this trip includes the following:
PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE IS AN IMPORTANT SUPERVISION DISTINCTION BETWEEN THESE "ON TOUR" PROGRAMS FOR OLDER TEENS AND OUR OTHER PROGRAMS FOR 13-17 YEAR OLD TRIP MEMBERS.
Westcoast Connection has been offering supervised programs for teens aged 13 – 17 for 30 years. Group policies for these programs are similar to those of a summer camp - one of the most important being no drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. Trip Members and their parents attending those programs sign an Expectations Agreement consistent with our policies for those programs.
This “ON TOUR” Program was created 21 summers ago in response to requests by our older alumni. This program balances the need for independence of the older teen age group with the desire parents still have for a level of guidance and structure. ON TOUR includes members who are nearing graduation from high school and will then be moving out on their own to college. We deliberately developed these trips under a different name (“ON TOUR”) as we wanted to distinguish a different level of supervision. We choose not to supervise rising high school seniors and college bound students in the same way we do our younger Trip Members. Yet, ON TOUR Members must still follow applicable policies. Since these ON TOUR policies differ from those that apply to Trip Members traveling on our other programs for 13 – 17 year olds, we want both the Trip Member and Parent to be comfortable with the policies enforced for ON TOUR programs.
We believe the way we run our programs has helped us maintain an excellent safety record. However, in running a variety of adventure based programs, we know that we can only manage risks – not eliminate them. While we are a supervised program, we cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal choices and activities of Trip Members. We cannot prevent them from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities. In order for us to continue to effectively manage risk, consider the well being of all Trip Members and strive to maintain our safety record, it is important that parents and their teens understand and agree with our policies.
Our “ON TOUR” policies in Europe include:
Beer and Wine Policy
In France, Switzerland, Italy & Greece, we allow the privilege of local custom & culture to prevail and we do not ban the drinking of beer & wine as they are banned on our younger programs. However, for those who choose to drink wine or beer, consumption is limited to the following few occasions and only when staff are in attendance:
_ A maximum of 1 glass of wine or beer is permitted at dinner, at the Trip Member’s expense.
_ On the nights when we visit a nightclub, bar, disco, or café, 1 glass of wine or beer is permitted there. (Not included in tour fee.)
_ No other alcoholic beverages are permitted. (i.e. NO hard liquor, mixed drinks, shots, etc).
_ Alcohol consumption of any type is prohibited during the day (before dinner).
_ No Alcohol of any type is permitted on our bus (on applicable tours), or in our hotel rooms.
_ Trip Members taking any medication are not permitted to consume beer or wine.
_ No bottles of any beer, wine, or alcohol can ever be purchased (not even as souvenirs).
_ We will not tolerate destructive behavior, rowdiness, and anti-social behavior.
_ Consumption of wine or beer is a privilege of our ON TOUR programs and any participant that cannot accept the
above guidelines or tries to circumvent these guidelines will be removed from the program.
Trip Members must understand that we will not tolerate conduct or circumstances which endanger the Trip Member, other Trip Members, or is otherwise detrimental to the program. As a result, our staff can, in their discretion, dismiss a Trip Member from the program, if he or she presents a safety concern or medical risk, engages in illegal or inappropriate behavior, or otherwise conducts him or herself in a manner detrimental to the program – including a failure to abide by our policies, as described here or as explained to the group by the staff. If Trip Member is dismissed (or departs) from the Program for any reason, no refunds will be granted, and parent/s will be responsible for all costs of early departure (as outlined in your Application Terms of Agreement). Additionally, the manner & means of transporting the Trip Member home shall be determined at our sole discretion.
Trip Member and their parent/s have read, discussed, understand and agree to abide by the terms of this Expectations Agreement, have reviewed the brochure and other materials we provided, and have spoken with the Directors, if they felt it necessary to do so. Trip Member agrees to participate enthusiastically, meet the expectations described here, and follow our policies especially including alcohol, wine, and beer. Trip Member also understands that as part of a group, there are times when Trip Members will need to put the group needs ahead of their own.
Fortunately over 30 years of running exciting and enriching summer programs for teens, the overwhelming majority of teens who join us do abide by the rules they sign on for before the summer. Unfortunately it is a consistent and very low percent of students who do not.
The complaining party acknowledges violating several policies:
1) ******* was drinking alcohol (banned as only wine & beer are permitted);
2) He was drinking in a room (banned as well);
3) He was drinking before dinner (banned)
4) He was drinking without staff in attendance (a fourth restriction).
Their claim that his dismissal was unjust is clearly not so. There is ample justification and we are very comfortable letting the marketplace decide if we had just cause. In her opening statement she claims her “innocent son” was sent home. Fortunately her own account read against our contract and clearly known rules shows otherwise.
This client already threatened legal action and we sent them a copy of the agreements they signed. We guess they think this recourse of publishing on Revdex.com will hurt us but as a Director of summer travel programs for teens for 28 summers, it has been my experience that the irony is other parents see this complaint as an endorsement of our willingness to dismiss students who breach the rules rather than us tolerating it and turning a blind eye.
Of those students we have had to dismiss in past years, we are always impressed by those parents who have their son or daughter take responsibility for their actions and write us a letter of apology. And in a few cases the highest compliment we receive is when the same family who has had a child dismissed, has sent another child with us in subsequent summers. In fact we have an instance of such a second child with us this summer. Indeed that is high praise of our abilities and fairness.
If the complaint must remain public we are fine letting our sophisticated clientele judge themselves. Although I think this parent is doing a significant disservice to her son by a) not helping him see that his actions have consequences and b) publishing this behavior in an online forum for future employers and colleges to see. She might think twice and prefer her letter not be published.