TELLURIDE, COLORADO -- Ryder-Walker does have a secret about their "Secret Swiss Valleys" inn-to-inn hiking tour in the Swiss Alps, but it's not one you're going to like, and it's a surprise you won't learn about until the first night of the tour.
I went on the "Secret Swiss Valleys" tour in August of 2008. Except for the secret, there's a lot about the tour to like. The tour cost about $3000, including a single supplement.
I chose this tour because Ryder-Walker advertised that we'd be hiking inn-to-inn carrying only day-packs each day, staying at 3-star inns at night. It's mostly true.
We began the trip in Leukerbad, a charming small but well-heeled spa town in the Valais, a few hours by train east of Geneva. The group -- four couples and me, plus our two guides -- met for our orientation. Our guides told us about the trip, and cheerfully mentioned that one part of our adventure -- and this came as a complete surprise to every one of us -- was going to be a night at a hostel, without showers, or even hot water. (They didn't mention that there would be no linens -- fortunately I decided to buy a dishtowel at the Leukerbad supermarket.) Also, there would be two nights when they wouldn't bring our baggage to our inn, so we'd have to backpack in whatever we needed. We were all very good sports about it all.
Our hikes took us across terrain with views that were great to spectacular. The highlight of the trip was the hike along a ridge overlooking the Aletsch glacier, Europe's largest, a long curving tongue of ice stretched out below us. We generally stayed in inns in small towns with great views, such as Hotel Belalp in Belalp (on a point of land overlooking the valley), or the Hotel Edelweiss in Blatten (on a stream on the valley floor, looking down the valley), or the Hotel Panorama in Bettmeralp (in a charming mountain town with -- you guessed it -- a panoramic view). The food was generally good; breakfasts and dinners were included, while lunch wasn't.
The hiking was true to the advertised difficulty level, but I learned that I had no idea how to gauge difficulty level. We generally walked 7-9 miles each day, but the length doesn't make for the difficulty: it's the number of feet of ascent that counts. I learned that 1500 feet of ascent is a substantial hike. On our most strenuous hike, we climbed up 2900 feet. You must be in good shape for this and be prepared for serious uphill, although there is no technical climbing.
Finally the night arrived for the stay at the hostel. We arrived to find we were sharing it with, among others, 26 Belgian teens. I was put in a room with a French family with 3 small children. I was given a (fairly dirty) sleeping area with (fairly dirty) pillow and blanket, with eight of us in the bottom bunk and eight on top. We all (meaning all 35-40 of us) shared one bathroom with one towel, nailed to the wall. (I was glad I had bought that dishcloth.) The teens got served dinner first, and we waited outside in the rain. Then we had spaghetti. Thank god I had brought sleeping pills and earplugs!
We were blessed on the trip by good weather. It was only in the last half-hour of hiking on the last day that there was any significant rain. Otherwise there were only a few drops here and there but, of course, the weather in the mountains cannot be guaranteed. We said goodbye at a farewell dinner. It had been a good group to travel with -- we were all over 50, educated, sociable, spirited, and good company.
When I came home, I wrote to Peter Walker, owner of Ryder-Walker, to say that I felt that I should get some kind of refund because the accommodations were not as advertised. I never got any response. I tried disputing part of the charge through my credit-card company, but Ryder-Walker said that I had accepted the trip as it was (what choice did I have?), and the credit card company sided with them.
What a shame. Other than the secrets, "Secret Swiss Valleys" was a good trip.
EAST SYRACUSE, NEW YORK -- I rented a truck on 9/5/09. The clerk swiped my card without informing me how much the security deposit would be. It was $250. I am still waiting to get refunded my money!!I am waiting for $150 to go back into my account. In the meantime, my account was overdrawn and I got charged an overdraft fee from my bank. When I spoke with the rep, he told me it would take 72 hours to get my money back. He submitted the request on 9/8 @ 9am ET. I am very disappointed and would NEVER EVER Rent from Ryder again. It's funny that my security deposit was taken out right away but when it comes to giving the money back..it's taking forever! This is by far the worst experience ever. Next time, I will stick to UHaul!
OMAHA, NEBRASKA -- On June 28th, I called the 800# and made a reservation for a large moving truck to be picked up on 6/29 @ noon. I told her I tried to do it on-line, but since it was less than 24 hours that the computer said I needed to call the 800#. She told me to print off the on-line coupon and take it with me so that I could use the coupon when I picked up the truck. I printed off the coupon, wrote down the confirmation # along with the p/u location and time. I went to Ryder on 68/L on 6/29 at about 11:50am and the gal said they had NO TRUCKS. She pulled up my reservation and the gal I had spoken with made it for the same day I spoke with her!!! There were no other trucks available from any other companies either. I was completely angry -- I had four guys lined up to help me move at 1p on Friday, June 29, and had to cancel with them. I had to turn in my keys to my apartment by the time the office closed on Saturday, June 30. I had no luck on Friday finding other options to make my move and only could fit little things in my car. I did end up having to move my stuff with two small pickup trucks on Saturday with the help of 2 guys. It took us quadruple the time because of Ryder's error and much more stress on me. We didn't get done moving until very late on Saturday and Sunday I did a very brief walk-through with my manager and turned my keys into her. I ended up not being able to clean my apartment completely and got stuck with them taking $175 of my deposit.
I am very disappointed in Ryder and the lack of care for the customer. The Ryder guarantee -- is bogus!
NE PHILADELPHIA LOC, PENNSYLVANIA -- Hello everyone . I am dealing with Ryder truck rental for 2 years I work for large company who leases 35 trucks ( at location I work ) I am independent contractor so I pay for truck and I get do deal with Ryder. company I work for is just middle man so point is their customer service is worst I don't wish to any one to deal with Ryder's mechanic's or shop workers they are meanest people in the world ! it takes them 2 days to change oil on truck and if you need something more than that you are stuck for weeks ! they won't give you replacement truck but if they do they will charge you for 2 trucks one for truck witch is in shop and one for replacement truck ! couple of times they give me truck with empty tank and when I return it back they charge me for fuel and there is no way you can prove tank was empty just make sure you check that before taking keys or signing paperwork . shop workers are very aggressive (at blue grass road in ne Philadelphia )they don't care about you and they don't heave any respect for customers they look at you as animal and they treat you like one to ! we recently fired Ryder and got contract from another truck rental . only defense Ryder had was just trashing other company and telling us how bad they are but they heave never said they will take our complaint and fix problem instead they start to look away and keep quiet about all problems 35 people complaining didn't mean anything for them ! so that why now they lost contract which paid them $50.000 a month ! by Ryder !
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA -- I am angry at Ryder TRS. Extremely angry. I authorized a $100 deposit for a rental storage truck and was returned only $60. I was charge $40 for not filling the gas tank full, when in fact I had. I was given the run-around by a store supervisor, and then by 2 other 1-800-Go-Ryder reps, and I am still $40 short. I told them I had filled the truck until the gas nozzle clicked, signifying the tank being filled. When told that this "click" does not mean its full, I became furious. I was charged 5 miles of gas, an $25 "service charge" for stopping the nozzle when it clicked. Ludicrous. THe contract I agreed upon states that I would return the truck full, "F" on the gas meter. I fulfilled my part.