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Conde Nast Traveler m...

Conde Nast Traveler magazine in the December 2011 edition listed Mr. Kleon Howe and his travel agency The Art of Travel in San Diego California, as one of its top travel specialists to French Polynesia. I have subscribed to Conde Nast Traveler magazine for many years, and given its endorsement of Mr. Howe, chose to contact him to enlist him as my travel agent to plan a 25th year wedding anniversary, in French Polynesia. I obtained his telephone number and web address, from page 139 of the issue.

My wife and I have traveled extensively, all over the world, and normally personally prepare our entire travel itineraries. The article by Conde Nast Traveler magazine beginning on page 126, describes Mr. Kleon Howe as someone who knows the best side of the plane to sit on for the best views of Bora-Bora from the approaching airplane. That he can arrange for a morning massage at your resort while you wait for your room to be readied. That he knows which resorts get the most sunshine and sunset views, that he can get some of the best tables at popular restaurants. That his connections with Air Tahiti Nui translate to up to a 20 percent savings on airfare, and that he can hold flights for 21 days while your itinerary is being finalized. He is said to know where to get the most authentic French Polynesian massage, etc., etc. From these descriptions why would one NOT wish to contact Mr. Howe?

While I don’t fault Conde Nast Traveler magazine, as it is doubtful that they police the behavior of travel agents that they might write about, it is quite fair to say that perhaps not everyone would agree to give Mr. Howe, a glowing review. Personally, having initially chosen his services for travel, I would not choose Mr. Kleon Howe, again. Ever.

He took one month to prepare an outline of the initial itinerary, and then took from 7-10 days to respond to inquiriees, and in general seemed quite inattentive to my travel plans. He seemed to be so much uninvolved, with multiple excuses for why he has not responded that I decided to look elsewhere to see if indeed he was as he advertised, ie, cost effective, and able to arrange a travel plan that I certainly could not arrange myself . Sadly, this proved to be untrue. He proved to be MUCH MORE expensive for the same travel itineray compared to two other companies. Then, he attempted to villanize me by my complaining about it! He was given a quote from another travel agency for the identical itinerary, said that he would think about matching the quote. He called two hours later to say that he would not match the quote, nor refund the $1000 deposit.

From the Conde Nast Traveler article, I wanted to believe that Mr. Howe was the best person to plan our once in a lifetime anniversary celebration. Sadly, this proved to be untrue. See Tripadviser.com, (and reviews including Kleon Howe) and Jan Prince's, 2012, 622 page travel guide, "Tahiti and French Polynesia Guide. " Listed is all the information that is needed to plan a trip to French Polynesia, Including the many details above that Mr. Howe says that only he knows or can provide. No $1000 dollar travel contract. No $75 dollar document fee. Although, I could have chosen to still go forward with him, and save the $1000 deposit, that he said that he would not return, I have saved quite a bit of money by NOT going through him and choosing another company for the identical itinerary, even foregoing the deposit!. He describes our conflict as "a simple legal dispute." I would describe the conflict as an issue of a lack of honesty and integrity. Buyer beware! Do not let the same thing happen to you.

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