In March 2011, I booked a December trip to Kenya and Tanzania with OAT after seeing that it was listed as travel & leisure magazines top travel companies in 2010. In Sept, OAT called to cancel my trip. I asked to have my deposit refunded, which they were reluctant to do...They asked me 5 times whether I wanted to book another trip instead. I told them I just wanted my money back because I might have to choose another destination instead, one where I wouldn't need a guided tour.
After thinking about it for a day, I decided that I still wanted to go to Africa and called them to ask about other trip dates. I was told that there was only 1 space available on a November trip and that they would not hold it for me. Then I was told that I would have to pay the current price ($300 more than my December trip, which was scheduled only 1 week after this November trip). I told them I shouldn't have to pay the difference since they were the ones who canceled my trip. Finally, after much discussion, the supervisor said they would match the price, but would not hold the November trip for me.
It took me 2 days to get approval from work for the new dates. When I called back, I was told that the November trip had filled up.
I then asked them if they had any December trips in 2012 and they said it could cost $400 more. I know that often prices change from year to year so I didn't ask for a price match but I did ask if I could gat a $100 discount for being inconvenienced and postponing my trip for an entire year. They told me no.
It really seems like all they care about is getting as much money out of you as possible and not about customer service.
Before traveling with this company be warmed! A recently traveled with a group of friends which I formally traveled with and except to enjoy a long awaited African Safari. The trip itself was good but the service received left me very disappointed. While in a OAT camp - Baobob Lodge in Chobe - we were advised in OAT literature that several campsite did not have individual safes in the campsite but had canvas lock bags which we were assured that we could put our personal belongings and these bags would be locked in a central safe, there was no need for worry - our belongings would be in safe hands. While, these bags can easily be open without a key, and myself and several other travelers monies were stolen out of the bags after being given to the staff to lock in the safe. We filed a report and a police report but was told that no one had a copy machine to give us a copy. SO we used carbon paper to assure ourselves that we would have a copy when we returned home. The tour guide was more than willing to extend himself to take us to an ATM to get more money so we can have funds to TIP him and everyone. Again, we were told not to worry, it would all be taken care of by OATS when we returned to the states. Between three of us there was approximately $1500.00 stolen while in the hands of their employees.
Went I returned home a called OAT and was advised to sent the reports to a PO BOX in Boston. I did my letter and was ready to mail to OATS, I again called only to be told I had the wrong address. It took three days to get a real person to speak with - that was after I advised them that I would be filing a complaint with the Attorney Generals Office. Well we all mailed our letters and reports to Quality Management - only to receive a letter from OAT advising us that they are not responsible for our loses because we did not follow the directions given to us.- this was what their African office told them. This is an outright Lie IT appears that both the Tour Guide and Manager were involved with the other staff in the thefts. IT WAS A SCAM- We will all be filing a formal complaints with the Attorney General Office and Boston Mass and seeking legal advise from an attorney. BEWARE!!
Along with two friends, I was scheduled to leave Dec. 30, 2008 on a 3-week trip to Vietnam and Cambodia with Overseas Adventure Travel. This was to be my third trip in four years with OAT, chosen in part for its good value without expensive fringes. Since I've never had to cancel travel -- whether for business or pleasure -- I did not purchase trip insurance which would have added another 10 percent onto the trip cost.
Unfortunately, on Dec. 1, I had emergency retina surgery. My surgeon advised I not take this trip because of airplane cabin pressure vis a vis my eye pressure. Once there, I put myself at risk of infection as health care facilities in Third World countries could be questionable. I made several calls to OAT to see what options I might have. OAT reps lectured me about my failure in not buying trip insurance. On Dec. 16, I wrote a letter to the Chairman and CEO of the parent company, Grand Circle Travel, informing them the reasons I could not make the trip, asking for some customer consideration.
Their response from a Quality Management representative repeated yet again that I should have purchased trip insurance. Meanwhile, OAT is offering huge discounts to future -- and new -- customers. They obviously were able to make a profit in my not joining the tour: rooms not slept in; meals not consumed; an add on trip not taken and more. Legally, I realize the company did not have to send me a voucher toward a future trip. That said, in this perilous economy, shouldn't a company make some gesture of good will?
OAT purports to be a company with a strong customer focus. They market themselves in a folksy, friendly manner. Yet the cold formality and dismissive tone once they have received your full payment belies their advertising and marketing. Indeed, OAT is truly a huge corporation with the bottom line in mind. The customer is no longer valued once the customer has paid for the trip. Buyer beware!
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- My husband and I booked a tour on-line with OAT for a trip to Thailand with a pre trip to Ankgor Wat in Cambodia and a post trip to Vietnam. OAT does some group travel, no more than 16 people. At the time of booking we were told that we were the 15th and 16th clients and that the selected tour was the only one available during the winter that included the pre and post trip. We put a deposit down on the tour. We received confirmation of the booking and paid the full amount within 14 days. Subsequently we were sent applications for visas for Cambodia and Vietnam
We also made our own air arrangements with Thai Air to avoid the two changes of plane and the 27 hour trip offered by OAT.
Just a few days after receiving our visa forms from OAT we sent them to their recommended Visa service with a check. Three days after that we heard from a representative from OAT who informed us that the Vietnam portion of our trip was being canceled due to only 4 people signing up. We questioned this because before we made our deposit we had been told that we were taken the last two places. In additon friends who had traveled with them had found that they had only 5 people on their tour. OAT said that the decision to cancel the Vietnam portion was not negotiable.
We decided to cancel the trip because of their change of itinerary.
When we told them that our air tickets included our time in Vietnam, they said they weren't responsible because we arranged for our own air.
We had to pay a penalty to the airline to cancel the tickets.
We were told to call the Visa service immediately which we did. OAT said that they would pay for any the cost of already processed visas. To date we have received $50 from the Visa service company and are still waiting for OAT to refund the remainder of $315.
OAT charged my charge account for the travel insurance two weeks before I authorized them to do so. In the small print, sent in a booklet with the confirmation, I found out that any insurance refund would be in travel vouchers for their company. In addition we would be charged a $300 administrative fee because we canceled. We canceled only because they changed the trip by eliminating the Vietnam portion It is absolutely necessary to read ALL THE FINE PRINT because everything is stacked against the consumer.
We would never travel with this group again as they do are totally uncaring and manipulative. Several friends who have traveled with them have said that will not do so again either.
Like a previous correspondent I checked with the Mass. BBB after my troubles and found that OAT and Grand Circle have an unsatisfactory rating. CONSUMER BEWARE.
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS -- Attention Travelers. Thinking about booking a trip with Overseas Adventure Travel or Grand Circle? Warning!!! Think twice and check them out on the Better Business Bureau. There record is filled with complaints including action taken by the office of Mass Attorney General.
My wife and I and two friends have recently returned from a 19 day trip to Kenya and Tazannia. The trip was a disaster. The problems arose long before departure. Despite booking a year in advance the seating could very well have been the worst on the plane. At one point my wife and I were in different rows. All the seats were in the very back of the planes near the toilets with constant traffic and very cramped. We tried in vain to change our travel bookings to things offered in the brochure (Upgrade to business and overnight stay in Amsterdam) We were told they were not available. They have since told us that these were the only seats available and seating was not there responsibility. This did not bode well for the remainder of the trip. After our extremely uncomfortable trip we arrived in Kenya with half our duffel bags missing. We got them a day later.
Then the real problems started. We were to spend 7 of the next 15 days traveling in cramped uncomfortable and aging vehicles. This was bad but not as bad as one disruptive individual who had us all believing that we somehow had mistakenly been booked on her private Safari. Without going to all the disturbing details I will say That this disruptive and most disagreeable member of our tour made for countless hours of frustration and anger preventing the four members of our group from enjoying a quite expensive trip. We were told at the outset that members of the two vehicles would be rotated daily so as to allow all to meet and become friends. This never happened. We were always inn the same vehicle as the disruptor. On two occasions My wife and our friend left the group in tears because stress and tension. The women rooming with the disruptor was often in tears and did not even want to go to her room and at one point shared our room. We constantly complained to our group supervisor and requested he do something to ease the situation, which could have been made tolerable by moving people in vehicles. When asked why this was not done we were told the other individuals did not want the disruptor in there vehicle and would not switch. We were stuck. Even the driver requested she not be allowed to sit behind him and was moved to the back of the vehicle were she cold yell her communications to the rest of the group.
Another disturbing point occurred that showed just how ill equipped or guide, an employee of OAT / Greand Circle, was in handling group problems. There were tented camps were one is not allowed to leave tents. We had an occasion when my wife and another group member were very ill perhaps food poisoning, and had been forced to stay in there tents during a group meeting at which we were first informed that leaving the tents after dark was not allowed due to the danger of animal encounter. We would need a guard to travel to and from tent and lodge. The ill members knew nothing and darkness had already fallen. Our guide went on and on in his talk and despite my expressed concern did nothing to inform the other members in the tent. I became very angry with his lack of concern ( danger real or not ) I left the meeting and got a lodge guard and went to inform my wife and the other member. I could go on and on but the bottom line is the trip was long and uncomfortable, physically and mentally. It could all been easier had our guide been better equipped to handle group dynamics. He did nothing.
Believe me the details of this trip are far more expansive and Could fill pages.
When we returned home we tried to get some satisfaction from OAT / Grand Circle Co. And have been informed that the take no responsibility for our experience and were told they were oh so sorry that what happened put a damper on our trip. DAMPER!! Ruined a very expensive Vacation. Essentially, Customer Satisfaction is not in their business hand book. We are pursuing this complaint with the Office of Consumer Affairs.
THE WORST CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EVER. My mother was so upset by her customer experience that she told me in tears that she wanted to cancel the trip - a once-in-a-lifetime trip that she has been excited about for months. Numerous customer service agents told her that they were working on an issue and would get back to her, including supervisor James - but none of them never did. When I called to find out what had happened, I received the exact same treatment - I was transferred, told that people would call me back, and the issue was never addressed. When I asked to speak to the manager of the supervisors, I was told I could not speak to them. Its the same experience you get from a mega corporation like Verizon or Capital One, except you are paying them thousands of dollars to guide you through a foreign country. Save yourself time, exasperation and money, and RUN to another agency. They don't care enough about their customers to even call them back, even when they are paying over $20,000 for the trip. Would you trust a company like this?
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- OAT now requires a signed agreement that gives them the right to do anything and you have the right to complain in vain . The tour guide for the Jewels of Bohemia May 3,2014 to May 22,2014, maybe be the reason for the NEW agreement . A racist, denigrated Roma at the memorial for the (Gypsies ) Roma who died during the Holocaust. Forcing people to walk hours 2to 3 after a long day just to find an ATM and place to eat by lying saying the walk would be 15 minutes . Lost people, usually 2or 3 out of a group of 14 because he only cared about himself and never turned around or walked slow enough for everyone to keep together. Also he hired the cheapest smallest transportation available, making travel uncomfortable . Most of the Hotels were 2nd or 3rd class, but the prices were 1st class.
Overseas Adventure Travel disappointed us. We had paid for our Morocco holiday, and had paid OAT to arrange for our air travel from Sacramento CA so that if there is any delay in flight, a representative would still meet us in Casablanca upon arrival. Our flight from USA got delayed; in Paris we had to take the next flight to Casablanca as we missed our original connection. I had phoned OAT before we left USA that we would miss the connection in Paris due to delayed departure and have to take the next connecting flight from Paris. Could not contact OAT from Paris because of long hold time on the telephone (40 mts.). Lo and behold, there were none at the Casablanca airport upon our arrival late in the evening. Had to buy a phone card to call OAT in USA and had to endure a wait time of 38 minutes. After a lot of shouting, they agreed to transport me by a taxi to Rabat (100 miles away) at their expense.
Most complaints on tour operators stem from missed connections, and OAT, in spite of their boasting about repeat customers, failed us. Further, I had asked that their office call me to explain why there was this slip up. They have not cared to call us yet. This is what they care about customers. Do not trust them.
Narayan S Rau, PhD, P. Eng.
BOSTON, MA -- I booked to travel to Morocco on 12/19/2009. I got stuck in Denver because of the storm in New York. I called, called and called their offices to get some help in rebooking my trip on Royal Air Moroc (the portion of the trip I purchased from OAT). I could have gotten there on Sunday, 12/20 but was lied to by OAT - they told me that Royal Air Moroc didn't fly on Sunday. I got there on Monday after spending 1 1/2 days at my expense in a hotel in Denver.
This was my 6th trip with this company, and I have never been treated so poorly. When I called to rebook, I was told too bad you lost your trip because you didn't purchase the travel insurance. It was only because I got really ugly that they helped me.
OAT does a wonderful job on the trip, but they certainly are no help when you have a problem with flights getting to the destination. They lied, gave me false information, and generally poor treatment. The Chicago office was the worst.
My advice to anyone traveling with OAT - don't miss your connection even if there is a record snow storm!
We returned from a trip with OAT yesterday; the organization of the trip through Egypt, the cruise on the Suez Canal and Red Sea were fine, but when we arrived at the hotels in Jordan, they were a disaster and nobody changed anything to make it better.
The hotel in Petra, the Petra Inn, (Our schedule stated that we would stay at the Petra Palace) was a dump! It was dirty, unkempt and nothing worked. When my husband used the commode, it fell to the side. We have pictures to prove this. The food was disgusting too.
The next hotel in Amman was better, but not much!
When there was running water, it was cold. It was not kept well either. One of the couples got so fed up with the quality of the hotels, that they left early.
The rack rate for the hotel in Petra was 55 JD per night and the one in Amman was 100 JD per night. Tour operators pay a lot less... When you consider that your trip costs $ 800 per day per couple, you wonder how the rest of the money is spent. A guide and a bus certainly do not cost $ 650 per day!
Another complaint is that, when you arrange your own flights, they do not pick you up from the airport. You arrive in a totally strange country, without local cash and you have to find your way to the hotel... this way, they save $ 30 - 50 on your back! Not very consumer friendly, esp. since they are at the airport anyway to pick up other clients.