Thursday, July 10, 2008

End of misleading airfare ads?

Hallefreakinlujah! It’s about time! What took them so long?

Finally, some big poobahs in charge woke up and decided it would be a good idea to tell Ryanair and other offenders just where they can shove their 1 euro promotional airfares.

Full article in The Guardian here.

Now all the budget airlines are required to include all fees and taxes in their advertised fares. Which makes me very, very happy. So now Ryanair quickly raised their promotional prices to the equivalent of 5 or 10 euro (at least in Sweden).


But it appears Ryanair bosses only got the first page of the memo, because their fares still don’t include taxes and other charges.

It seems that SkyEurope got the whole memo. They advertise prices for 1 euro/pound all inclusive. Which looks mighty fine until you actually try to book one of those special fares. Yeah, right. Good luck!


And then you read the fine print, which says:

One-way, ALL INCLUSIVE. Subject to availability. Web reservations only. 14-days advance purchase applies. Subject to payment of credit/debit card fees and baggage fee.

Some morons (I was going to use a much stronger word, but since this is a family blog and all that, morons will have to do for now) will just never learn. I hate budget airlines.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What's the deal with CADIP? Part 2

UPDATE: I NO LONGER RECOMMEND CADIP. They need to stop treating every prospective volunteer like a brainless load of cash. And Roy needs to learn to sign his emails with both his first AND last names, if he wants to be taken seriously. Or better yet, he needs to be fired and a whole new management needs to be brought in.

If you're looking for an organized volunteering alternative, consider Service Civil International. Same setup as CADIP, but much nicer to deal with.

OK, I hope that now we can put the issue of whether CADIP is a scam out of its misery.

I promised you guys that if I got a reply from CADIP, I would post it on my blog. And here it is:

Dear Anna,

Thank you for your message and your interest in our activities. Please accept my apologies for the unusual delay in responding to your e-mail. We have received an extremely high volume of e-mails in the past several weeks and have been unable to answer all of the requests within our habitual time frame. Now is the busiest time of the year and, in this very moment, there are literally hundreds of volunteers taking part in so many different programs of CADIP or its partners around the globe.

CADIP is a non-profit organization, registered under the Society Act of British Columbia, Registration Number S-48793. It has no religious or political affiliation. Through various charity, volunteer and youth initiatives, CADIP promotes peace, cooperation, tolerance and understanding in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and international surroundings. The organization also promotes patterns and examples of civil activities focused on serving others, on building social ties and strengthening communities, and on supporting civil society development.

CADIP is a reputable organization with a successful history and thousands of volunteers that are happy with our work. CADIP volunteers have been contributing for years to many charitable projects, development initiatives, cultural events, etc. around the world.

We strive to be the most reliable organization of this kind in North America and we constantly make efforts to give meaning the word affordable when it comes to international volunteering.
Actually, CADIP was created as an organization that would change the pricing of the international volunteer service for the people who want to volunteer abroad without breaking the bank. One of our unwritten goals is to provide affordable international volunteer experiences and to be an alternative to many organizations and private agencies that ruin the idea of volunteering by charging huge fees for similar activities.

We strive to provide a variety of volunteering opportunities in Canada and abroad for a really affordable financial contribution. And we truly believe that CADIP is working for the best of the voluntary service movement.

It’s just unbelievably inappropriate to blame Cadip of being a scam. We are respected not only by our members but also by our partners in Canada and abroad. It may be a good idea for you to check out the web site of the United Nations in its section for international volunteering, or go to the web of the Government of British Columbia in the section 'volunteering' or the respective section on the web sites of the biggest Canadian universities. We think that scams would never be listed there.

There is truly nothing that can lead someone to think CADIP is a scam.
Scams exist to make profit, and we are one of the organizations with the smallest fees ever. As a comparison, you can easily find organizations on the Internet that charge 10 times more and which start with a strictly non-refundable deposit that equals all our fees put together. By the way, we noticed that some of them have a twisted understanding for competition in the nowadays world. Trying to justify their high fees, some of them spread false information, sometimes they post fabricated opinions of former volunteers in blogs under fake names. We believe you understand what we are talking about. Just browsing on the net, you’ll find proof of all and any of our words.

If someone contacts you with a concrete case, we can comment, but only if we have the details, not in general. Of course, nobody is perfect, there is always room to improve the work of any organization, and we are always open for that.

We believe that we are a reliable and experienced organization and we are doing our best to provide not only affordable but safe and enriching international volunteer experience. We are proud with our achievements but we consider ourselves just as a part of the colourful and meaningful world of the world volunteerism. By the way, Canadian volunteerism is considered internationally to be one of the most developed and CADIP strives to be just one more reason for that.

At the end, let me thank you for your efforts to spread the word about CADIP’s activities.

We wish you success and personal happiness.


So if I get one more email from anyone who claims to have been mistreated by CADIP, I will forward it to Canada, because I am not a Better Business Bureau. Are we clear?

Now, go and bother someone else.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

They can't be serious!

Every so often I’m asked to review things, which if I feel like it, I do. Occasionally, an odd company here and there will flat out ask for a favorable review in exchange for monetary compensation. And that immediately makes me wonder just how lame you have to be to even suggest that. I never respond to such offers.

But then this morning, I got a very nice email from Katie, who also wanted me to review something. Katie went a step further – she asked for an unbiased review AND offered payment. Sweet! I get to trash something AND get paid?

Unfortunately for me and Katie, I do not accept money for reviews. If I recommend something, it’s because it’s good and useful and I like it. And if I don’t like something, I’ll tell y’all for free.

Katie wanted me to review a cheap airfare searching/booking site. I’m not going to give you a link, because trust me, it’s not worth it. It’s THAT bad.

The site claims to have 4 unique golden guarantees, with the first one being “Lowest Airfare & Hotel Rate”. Oh what a crock of BS! I plugged in a set of dates into their search boxes, Stockholm to JFK August 20-27, and the cheapest result I got was:

  • British Airways - $946.60 round trip - that was the lowest option.

I plugged in the same dates into and got $922 for the same flights, directly from BA.

But guess what? Kayak also provided options that the other schmucks didn’t, options that were even cheaper: $744 on KLM/Northwest.

There went that first golden guarantee. I really didn’t feel like bothering with the other three.

But wait! It gets worse. The airfares they list do not include all fees and taxes, you have to click something to get that info. You people can’t be serious? That is like so mid 90s. Do you honestly think that I am going to buy something, anything, from you if you can’t be upfront about the costs involved?

I’ll spare you the rest – pathetic hotel search results (again found cheaper elsewhere), bad design, lack of currency conversion function, and the most curious of all – the cheapest fares are NOT listed on the very top, you have to scroll quite a long way down to see them.

Either that site is a joke, or a scam, because I seriously cannot imagine why anyone with two brain cells to rub together would use it.


Yes, that unfortunate company is located in NYC (at least that's what it says on their website), about 12 blocks up from there. Ah, New York...