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.
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 Tazania. 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 their 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.
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- OAT, the Tour Guide ** and the tour was excellent. There was nothing that could be improved upon. Well organized, educational & ** was the best tour guide any of us had ever had. I would highly recommended this tour, this tour guide & OAT.
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 addition 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.