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The Kaufmann’s Streamborn bankruptcy continues to generate comment, as witness the following note from subscriber Clark Harrison, who bought an April 2011 trip to Abaco Island through Kaufmann’s way back in November 2010, only to learn six months later that his funds were never transferred to the lodge. He writes:
“I’m filing this report because my fishing buddy and I got ripped off by Kaufmann’s. They took our booking in November 2010 for an April 2011 trip to Rickmon Bonefish Lodge. I charged $5,340 for the two of us on my Mastercard. The Tuesday before my Friday flight in April I got a call from Jakob Lund, a former Kaufmann’s employee, who told me that he went to work that Monday to find the shop locked. He told me he was concerned that my trip had not been paid for. I called Rickmon Bonefish Lodge to find out. Indeed, they had not received any funds from Kaufmann’s. A lodge representative told me I could come anyway if I brought cash.
“I was stressed out by the whole thing, but I decided to go on my trip since I was optimistic that Mastercard would cover the fraud. My fishing buddy decided not to go on the trip so I went solo. At this point, Mastercard has given me a ‘conditional credit’ while they continue their investigation into the matter.
“I dealt with Kaufmann’s for more than 20 years, and they were always honest with me before the bankruptcy. I understand the hard economic times, but I’m thoroughly disgusted with the way the company handled this. The lessons I have learned about this are as follows: I’ll always purchase trip insurance in the future or book directly with the guide or lodge. Actually, at this point, I’m not sure trip insurance would have covered my problem with Kaufmann’s. In my particular case, I could have been stranded in Abaco at the airport waiting for the lodge to pick me up if I had not received a call from Lund. I owe him a couple of beers. I understand that other Kaufmann’s customers got stranded on trips to Mexico and Christmas Island. I am just hoping that the credit I got from Mastercard is firm.”
Don Causey Note: Has anyone else lost a trip as a result of the Kaufmann’s bankruptcy? Please let me know. I am also eager for feedback on the final disposition of credit card claims like Harrison’s.
In that vein, I have asked him to let me know if his particular claim is paid. The other important feedback I am seeking is the behavior of companies that issued trip-cancellation insurance policies on Kaufmann’s trips. We understand that most insurance companies that issue trip-cancellation policies will not pay any claims involving the bankruptcy of travel agents as opposed to travel providers. Also, it is worth noting that there are loopholes in some policies that get insurance companies off the hook if travel providers simply stop operating without bothering to file for bankruptcy. If you plan to buy travel interruption and cancellation insurance to protect any kind of trip, it is essential that you read and understand the fine print of your policy. To avoid inciting more anger on the part of angling travel agents (see last month’s issue), I hasten to add here that fishing agency bankruptcies are a very rare occurrence. In fact, I can recall only three (including the Kaufmann’s bankruptcy) that have occurred since 1988 when The Angling Report was founded. Travel provider bankruptcies and financial failures have been far more numerous over the years. Indeed, in this economic environment, it is probably wise for traveling anglers to put some time and effort into protecting their investments in trips. Just be aware that booking direct—as Harrison suggests above—may not be the best way to go. Over the years, angling travel agents have been good partners far more often than bad partners when things go wrong.