You May Already Be a Dupe

Ivan Reyna wins a contest and gets less than he bargained for

"As soon as I said who I was, she was doing something else," says Reyna.
He called a few hours later, gave a fake name, and says he wasn't surprised when Bonillas came on the line.

"I was firm, but I still wasn't pissed," says Reyna. "She's giving me all these budgetary problems excuses. I just told her I didn't want her to forget about me."

A week later, Bonillas left a message on Reyna's pager, something he took as a sign that she was working on his trip. But when he called her back, nothing had been resolved.

"She gave me so many excuses, I don't even remember them all," says Reyna. "I asked her for a ticket to Ontario [California], because I wanted to meet a friend in Disneyland. I told her I just needed one ticket, a room and a rental car."

Bonillas called back two days later to say that she had gotten the flight and room, but couldn't get the rental car.

"I said 'fine,'" says Reyna. "I just wanted to get it over with."
With the four-month hassle seemingly over, Reyna left on December 11 for his weekend at Disneyland. When he got to Ontario, Reyna was disappointed to see that he was staying at a less than five-star Comfort Inn.

"It was literally on the side of the freeway," he says.
One should not look a gift hotel in the mouth, but Reyna had reason to feel he'd been beaten by the sucker stick. He was already paying for the rental car and Disneyland tickets. The flight and hotel room were much less expensive than the package offered in the Denver trip. And the Prensa Hispana article had claimed the winners had stayed in one of the best hotels in Denver.

Reyna decided to register and enjoy the weekend. But the experience of checking in finally pushed him over the edge.

"I went to check in and the lady behind the desk asked for payment," says Reyna. "I explained that I had won a contest and that the room was already paid for. She said that it was only reserved, not paid for. Now I was pissed. I had to pay with my company credit card."

Adventures in Travel, the agency Telemundo used for the trip, claims the room was paid for. The agency says Reyna asked Comfort Inn for an eight-dollar upgrade for a double room, and that's why the room wasn't paid for.

But Reyna says he didn't ask for the upgrade until he had already checked in, went to the room and saw that it was not a double. Because a friend was joining him, he says, he went back to the front desk to pay for the upgrade.

"If the room had already been paid for, I could have paid for the upgrade and [Adventures in Travel] would have never known," says Reyna.

Comfort Inn was unable to confirm or deny either story.
Reyna flew home on Sunday, December 13, and called Bonillas on Monday. She told him that because he canceled his reservation, the travel agency would not reimburse him.

"Don't give me this canceled reservation crap," Reyna says he told Bonillas.
He explained about the double room and demanded that Bonillas get his money back from Adventures in Travel. Reyna says Bonillas was not apologetic.

"She told me she didn't want to offend the travel agency," he says. "But what about me?"

He says Bonillas said she would see what she could do, and that she called back a few days later to say the agency would pay for everything except the $8 upgrade.

After providing the necessary receipts, Reyna went home to Nogales for Christmas break, then called Bonillas on the first workday of January. Bonillas said the travel agency was still looking into it and that she would get back to him.

What followed was another two weeks of frustrating phone tag. Then, Reyna says that "all communication stopped. I'd call, page her, call her cell phone, and she wouldn't return my calls. I finally called and left her a nasty message. She finally called back and said that the check had been waiting for two weeks, that she had told her assistant to call me. But she never did."

By that time, Reyna says, the credit-card statement had already come and Reyna had paid for the room. When he got the check, it was minus the cost of the upgrade.

"I called [Bonillas] and told her that after all this, the least I deserve is a full refund," says Reyna. "She said she'd give me the eight bucks out of her own pocket, laying a guilt trip on me. To this day I have never seen that money."

Bonillas claims she sent Reyna a money order for $10, but was unable to find the receipt as proof. She was surprised that Reyna was still upset about the results of his prize.

"We did get him something," Bonillas says. "It's not like we blew him off. If I had known he was going to make such a big issue out of it, I would have sent him out to dinner or a baseball game. I thought it was taken care of."

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