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Forced home after first day of $4,600 Dominican vacation, family sues travel site

Syracuse, NY – It was supposed to be the Mateo family’s dream vacation: New Year’s on the glistening beaches of the Caribbean, far away from Syracuse’s snowy doldrums.

The Clay family’s youngest child, Alana, 17, was leaving for college in a few months. Her mother had a tough year battling nerve issues that kept her from work.

Miguel Mateo had the perfect plan: a week over New Year’s at one of the Dominican Republic’s premier resorts, Punta Cana, on the eastern coast. It’s a place the family had visited three years ago and loved at first sight.

But the Mateo family’s much-anticipated vacation ended after one night, cost thousands of dollars more than planned and left them wishing they’d never left home. The hotel wouldn’t let the kids stay without doubling the cost, Miguel Mateo said.

Now, the Mateos, of Four Seasons Drive, have filed a lawsuit against and its parent,, accusing the popular travel site of ruining their vacation. He’s also suing the RIU Palace Bavaro resort for turning his family away from their $4,607, all-inclusive accommodations package.

Mateo also wants compensation for charges that range from $842 in airline service charges to nearly $794 in cell phone roaming fees racked up trying to get home.

“I’ll fight this with all my energy,” Mateo said. “You have to stand up, especially if you feel you are right. I will pursue this to the end, and I believe justice will prevail.”

Mateo is remarkably qualified to sue the large travel website. He said his job at an insurance firm, Interboro Management, is to determine which lawsuits should be settled and which ones should be fought in court. He is also a world traveler, having traveled to Japan and Turkey, as well as numerous trips to his native Dominican Republic.

He filed the lawsuit himself in state Supreme Court Jan. 2. His wife, Kellie, a former insurance adjuster, is serving as his legal assistant. Mateo said he’s not looking for enough money to entice a lawyer to take his case, which could involve a legal battle with companies boasting deep pockets.

But given his legal background, Mateo said he’s ready for the fight.

“They truly believe they are untouchable,” Mateo said. “If I have to spend all six weeks of my vacation fighting this, I will.”

A Hotwire spokeswoman declined comment, citing the ongoing lawsuit.

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Category: DR News |

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Last updated March 25, 2017 at 5:40 PM
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