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Unfair policies
Posted by Crone72 on 12/04/2007
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 took 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.

     
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Posted by jktshff1 on 2007-12-04:
He**...I gotta free trip to that part of the world in the late 60's
Posted by leopard on 2007-12-05:
why didn't you just make your own travel arrangements? why all this bull%^&# with a travel agency, i looked online, and could have booked a trip including all the destinations in less than 1/2 hr, and besides, it would have been just the two of you, not 14 other tourists to have to put up with.
Posted by Ben There on 2007-12-05:
Leopard - she did not book through a travel agency - she says she booked on like with this tour company directly, and they canceled the tour after she had made other arrangements. Tour companies cancel tours, but a good travel agent can scramble to pick fix the situation. As fare as doing things on your own, a lot of people do not like traveling to places by themselves, or to more exotic destinations without the support of a guide.
Posted by Ponie on 2007-12-05:
'It is absolutely necessary to read ALL THE FINE PRINT...' How right you are! I've been on two Grand Circle tours and enjoyed them both. Of course, I made all my arrangements with them, not just a part. Although a change in itinerary was made on the second one, I didn't consider it the end of the world.
Posted by crone72 on 2007-12-05:
Response to Ponnie, OAT didn't just make a change in itinerary they eliminated A WHOLE COUNTRY, VIETNAM. Since I live in the USA and do not plan to make another trip to that part of the world their elimination OF VIETNAM was a big deal.
Posted by dan gordon on 2008-02-03:
While you might have gotten a better connection when you book your own air you do run a risk of dates changing etc. I think you have a valid complaint. Many tour companies have a no questions asked refund offer, at least Collette Vacations does and they do the same trip to Vietnam etc.
Posted by BenAndJerry on 2009-05-29:
I've had nothing but good experiences with OAT. Anyone who's traveled with them would know that they don't allow you book trips online (you need to speak with someone on the phone). This makes me question if this review is bogus.
Posted by crone72 on 2009-05-29:
BenandJerry, My review was NOT bogus. OAT is available online, check it out. I did subsequently speak to a representative.
Posted by Love2Travel on 2009-08-27:
Did you think that maybe you should call a Customer Care Agent and ask the necessary questions before booking with the tour company? For OAT trips they offer a BASE trip which---if they guarentee you are FULL and ready to go---you are! Then they offer PRE and POST trips which theyTRY to fill up but because of the length of the base trip not every travel had a whole month to be on tour. So if they get only 5 people who do the PRE trip---it WILL be cancelled or the company is losing money by sending 5 people on the trip. Not everyone is MANDATED to book the PRE and POST trips. If you would've bought the travel protection, you would be charged NOTHING to cancel the trip for any reason at any time. You file a claim, state your case to Trip Mate-----and wait for your refund.

Its horrible that your experience was a bad one, but usually they will offer you a similar trip at a different time where the PRE and/or POST trip is GUARENTEED (i'm sure yours was NOT). You have to know the right questions to ask. There are people who go on these trips once EVERY SINGLE YEAR for the past 15 years and never have an issue.

It sucks that you probably couldn't book it with someone else because no other company really tours the parts of the world that OAT does. You should definitely try again!
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OAT Travel
Posted by Csoda on 11/08/2008
PENNSYLVANIA -- Recently I booked a tour with OAT. The booking part was easy. Phone was answered in 2 minutes and everything was taken care of. One week later I had a question and called back (customer service phone number is not the same as for booking and you can not be transferred). I was told by a recorded message the waiting time is 6 minutes. So I waited 6 minutes and 30 and no answer. I attempted to call the 3 more times. Same experience.

So I was never able to get an answer to my question. I would recommend avoiding this company in the future. I believe customer care should not at at the booking of your trip.
     
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Posted by Jim on 2013-06-25:
My wife and I try to take two major trips a year so we tried OAT. We have now taken three with them and have booked two more. We feel that OAT does everything possible to give its travelers the best experience possible...
Posted by Lois on 2014-01-08:
I have been on 6 trips with OAT and each one has been spectacular, well planned with superb tour directors/guides. No complaints about anything and they do answer their phones!
Posted by Michelle OatManager on 2014-01-14:
Csoda - We apologize for the experience you had trying to get a hold of us at OAT. We'd like to call you and assist you with your booking. Please contact me directly at website@oattravel and I will have a manager call you. -Michelle, OAT Moderator
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Kenya Tanzannia Safari Disaster
Posted by Gwimby on 07/05/2007
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.
     
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Posted by Pomona Guy on 2007-07-05:
What did you expect? You were in Africa. That place is so messed up.
Posted by Hugh_Jorgen on 2007-07-05:
I was thinking the same thing? Aging vehicles? Sleeping in tents? Isn't that what an African safari is? Now if no one in the group had the cajones to tell "the disruptor" to shut her pie hole, then shame on them for letting her ruin their trip.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-07-05:
Ive always wanted to go to South Africa,there are some world class surf spots out there.

Steve
Posted by poppapia on 2007-07-05:
Hugh, my thoughts exactly. If this person was so disrupting, then someone should have told her to shut up for the rest of the trip. The person telling her would have probably made lifetime friends from others on the trip if it's as bad as told.
Posted by shawnp80 on 2007-07-05:
It's ashame you had to sleep in a tent and ride in aging vehicles in a 3rd world country. It's not the Hilton bro, lighten up!
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-07-05:
Pomona Guy, I disagreed.
Africa is not mess up, people mess it up.
It has many beautiful area like “Victoria Falls”.
Posted by shawnp80 on 2007-07-05:
Joy you really should not make fun of people for grammatical errors like you did in a few other posts. Especially when your posts are laden with stupidity.
Posted by gwimby on 2007-07-05:
Pomona- The tents were great, and expected. The vehicles were falling apart, not expected and not as described.They were not the norm on safari. There are many reputable safari people with very good vehicles. We did tell her to be more aware of her disruption to no avail. Shawnp80 - Kenya and Tanzania may be third world but wonderful countries. Thier people, animals, and the land itself are worth the trip. Have you ever been to Africa or stayed at a Hilton? I've been to Africa and I have stayed at several Hiltons and the Hiltons are no big deal. Some places we stayed at in Africa would put most Hiltons to shame..
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-07-05:
shawnp80, one post about agreeing with another poster’s response about grammatical error, I have to be attack here. Nice.
All I am saying here is the problem is with some of the African corrupt gov’t and warlords that genocide its people.
Africa is full of rich heritage and culture.
It also have many interesting places like the Victoria Falls. Been there. It is quit breath-taking.
Posted by shawnp80 on 2007-07-06:
Blah, blah, blah.....
Posted by gwimby on 2007-07-06:
shawn80 good answer to such a simple question. Perhaps you should save you coments to things you know somthing about. I believe the adage you were attempting to use is " it's not the Ritz" And by the way I am not your Bro.
Have a great day.
Posted by shawnp80 on 2007-07-06:
Thanks. I wasn't talking to you.
Posted by dan gordon on 2008-02-03:
just a few comments. Airlines are famous for bumping even assigned seats if a schedule changes or a plane type changes. Informed travelers would double check seat assignments prior to departure. Not really the tour companies job. The disruptive person is more troublesome. The guide should have done more. GCT uses contract guides, not employees so perhaps you got someone less assertive than they should have been. That is a valid concern.
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Ultimate Africa: Botswana Manibia & Zimbabwe Safari
Posted by Peggyt on 04/23/2009
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 a ATM machine 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 toke 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!!

     
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Overseas Adventure Travel (Oat Travel) - Bad Customer Service
Posted by Lumpyhead on 09/08/2011
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.
     
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Posted by Alain on 2011-09-09:
Considering the way they treated you, aren't you glad you didn't travel with them? They might not have been very helpful if something had gone wrong for you in Africa.
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Do not trust OAT
Posted by Namri on 04/10/2011
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.
     
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Posted by getoverit on 2011-04-10:
This must have been a frustrating experience. You made advance arrangements to be met at the airport, tried to keep them informed of changes, and then just had a big hassle when you arrived in Casablanca.

It seems like they should have been more willing to get you where you needed to go on arrival.
Posted by dan gordon on 2011-04-10:
don't understand the need to put your PHD in a complaint on a open forum but I guess your trying to say that your an educated guy? I work for tour companies. Did you have trip insurance? Sounds like the tour left without you. What did OAT say when you complained. OAT and GCT tend to have a following but are also subject to many negative comments on the internet.
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Avoid Overseas Adventure Travel
Posted by Talltress99 on 02/17/2011

I signed up for the New Year's Special, which was supposed to be a $300 discount through 1/15. OAT's representative acknowledged that they did not raise the price back up after the "special," but in fact reduced the trip further. It can be purchased today $200 cheaper than my invoiced price.

Even though they are selling the trip $200 cheaper, OAT added an additional $100 to my invoice and indicated that the price might increase further. In short, they reduced the trip to sell spots and raised the price on those already booked who haven't paid in full six months in advance to make up the difference. Their representative noted that these are financially difficult times.

I'd put down a $995 deposit to reserve and they indicated that the prices were in full including taxes and fees; but now they claim buried somewhere it says differently. Of course, they won't cancel without a $300 penalty.

The representatives attitude is "got ya." The company won't respond to my emails.
     
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Too Bad for You
Posted by GayleJohnson on 01/10/2010
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!

     
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Posted by dan gordon on 2010-01-10:
tour operators seldom can help when you choose to book your own airfare. When you refused travel insurance you assumed the risk. OAT doesn't create the weather delays and since you booked the airfare I'm at a loss as why they are supposed to help you?
Posted by GayleJohnson on 2010-01-14:
They booked my air from NYC to Cassablanca - I did't book that portion of my trip. They refused to help me re-book when I was delayed because of snow. They finally helped when I got ugly with them. gayle
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-01-14:
I am confused. You say they offered free travel but you were told it would be cheaper to book yourself? What, PERZACTLY is cheaper than free?

(or am I confused and unable to read clearly again?)
Posted by GayleJohnson on 2010-01-14:
raven2002 - you are correct it was confusing. I booked my airfare from DEN to NYC. OAT booked my airfare from NYC to Cassablanca. When I missed my connection, they told me to contact Air Maroc - but Air Maroc wouldn't talk with me because I wasn't the original booking agent. Finally, I got OAT to help me rebook my passage from NYC to Cassablanca - but only after putting on my ugly hat. Thanks, you helped me clear up my writing. I think I was so angry, that I forgot to reread it.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-01-14:
OH!!! Ok, that makes sense now, thanx! Either way, it sounds messy. I HATE travel issues.
Posted by J. Thomas - Colorado Springs on 2013-07-16:
I'm a fairly happy customer with GCT/OAT. We've completed 17 trips with this company over the last decade
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Buyer beware: OAT does not value its customers
Posted by Kirsty on 01/28/2009
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!
     
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Posted by SLR+ on 2009-01-28:
Lesson learned. When planning a trip, buy trip insurance.
Posted by saj80 on 2009-01-28:
Don't blame the travel agency for your regret in not purchasing travel insurance. The responsibility lies fully on you, so please accept that you made a mistake, and as SLR stated, lesson learned.
Posted by leopard on 2009-01-28:
I guess you should've purchased the travel insurance. Its not the company's fault, its yours!
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Hotels in Jordan
Posted by Myrcou on 01/23/2009
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.

     
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Posted by dan gordon on 2009-01-23:
you know that when you arrange your own air you have the OPTION of buying hotel transfers. Obviously you chose to save the money. Don't compalian when you were offered the option but tuned it down to save some $$. I'm sure you were a lovely couple to travel with
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