Jeanine Chyna received her $5,592 refund from American European Travel Inc. on Thursday morning.
But the New York-based travel agency's issues do not end there.
Chyna, featured in Tuesday's column, initially contacted What's Your Problem? after American European Travel canceled the family's prepaid Thanksgiving week vacation to Italy, then failed to refund the money promptly.
After the Problem Solver inquired about the case, the travel agency wired the money to Chyna's bank account.
Chyna was thrilled to finally get her money back.
Others, however, continue to wait.
After Tuesday's column ran, 10 more readers wrote to the Problem Solver to complain about American European Travel. In eight cases, their prepaid trips were canceled, and the readers said they were awaiting refunds. In the other two instances, travelers said they went on their trips but were not satisfied with the tours.
All of the readers said they trusted American European Travel because they had seen an ad in the Chicago Tribune which bore the Chicago Tribune logo.
The newspaper does not run the tour program, but it had a marketing partnership with American European Travel to advertise directly to Tribune readers.
Newspaper spokeswoman Maggie Wartik said the Tribune will no longer put its name on the travel agency's ads.
"American European Travel is a valued advertising partner with a history of good fulfillment," Wartik said in an email. "We acknowledge recent displeasure with their travel services and both parties agree it's best to discontinue the subscriber-offer element of their ad campaign."
In an email to the Problem Solver on Friday morning, American European Travel's chief executive officer, Hans-Joachim Blank, said the company has been operating overseas for years, but just last year set up shop in the U.S. He said the company has tens of thousands of satisfied customers, and he blamed the recent problems on a "glitch" that caused it to cancel seven days of travel.
"We are aware that we have destroyed vacation dreams and made some customers unhappy," Blank wrote, adding that since the breakdown, he and his staff "were working nearly 24/7 to solve everything."
Judging from the response from readers, the company faces a difficult task.
Cathy Frangos, of South Holland, said she booked a nine-day trip to Turkey through the travel agency in February, paying $1,996 for her and her husband.
The couple were supposed to depart Nov. 1 but one day earlier, on Oct. 31, American European Travel sent an email saying the trip was canceled.
"We were packed and ready to leave," she said. "My husband's 80 years old, I'm 65. I don't need this crap in my life."
Frangos said the company promised a quick refund, but that didn't happen.
Initially, she said, the travel agency said it would refund her money to her credit card, but later said it could not due to technical difficulties.
"I then played hardball with them," Frangos said. She wrote an email to Blank, threatening to go to the media, and to officials in New York state and Europe, she said.