Wednesday, November 25, 2015

For Whom The Belle Tolls

Once again, the power of the press has prompted a wealthy company to do right by the little people who trusted their money to it.

For Whom The Belle Tolls

The Philadelphia Belle
The Philadelphia Belle

Once again, the power of the press has prompted a wealthy company to do right by the little people who trusted their money to it.

And once again, that wealthy company is CI Travel. Last December, the Norfolk, Va.-based outfit brought to Philly the Philadelphia Belle, a restaurant/catering paddleboat operation, docked at Penn's Landing, that went belly-up within six months.

The closing left many customers high and dry, none of whom could get answers from CI Travel about if or when they'd be reimbursed the thousands of dollars they'd paid in advance for events (weddings, fundraisers, group outings) aboard the Belle. Once I wrote about the fiasco in the Daily News, however (click here and here),  customers got their money back. Which begs the question: Why does it take the intervention of the media for fat-cats to do right by the little people whose money they've taken?

Anyway, I thought I was done writing about the Belle, until the good people at The Center in the Park asked for help in getting a $1,640 refund from CI Travel for the fees paid by elderly Center members on fixed incomes. Lo and behold, after my story appeared, the Center was reimbursed.

More coverage
Hell's Belles! Even more money owed
Finally, help for jilted paddlewheel clients
No wedding bells for couple aboard Belle

Thank heavens the Daily News uses this magic wand only for good.

Alas, I can do nothing for the Belle's vendors, including Linens of the Week, which is owed ten grand, spokesman Shelton Marchman tells me. Last week, the company received this form letter (PDF), sharing the news that the Belle was out of money and would not be paying any of its creditors. It directed vendors to contact Norfolk attorney Lawrence Glanzer with any questions but included only a P.O. address for them to do so. 

Gosh, CI Travel, could you make it any harder for those you've screwed to find you?

So, for what it's worth, below is contact info for Glanzer. I provide it not just for vendors who want answers but for customers who've not yet contacted me about their financial losses. I'm getting weary of doing CI Travel's work for them. At least, I presume, Glanzer's firm is getting paid. 

Glanzer can be reached at 757-383-7937 and 

Daily News Columnist
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About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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