AMSTERDAM -- A friend and I recently spent a combined sum of £790 on a Shoestring tour of Jordan. In future, I would deal directly with a local company. Specific problems include:
1) Trip cost. My friend stayed in the Marriott Hotel (5*) in Amman on the first 2 nights, and were charged a rate of 11JD/night for 1 double room. Assuming that 3* hotels cost less than 5*, we can assume that total hotel cost for the week was approximately 50 JD, leaving 700 JD to cover remaining costs. In a country where average salary is less than $10k per annum, I am assuming our driver received a maximum of 200 JD. This means that the best part of 500 JD (GBP) went to Shoestring, which provided absolutely no value to the trip.
2) Communication. I have struggled to communicate with the company since purchasing the tours in June. I did not receive an invoice until it was explicitly requested. Our itinerary advised us that the tour started at noon on 6 Sept, when in fact the tour did not start until 9:00 7 Monday. I attempted to call Shoestring on a number of occasions - the automated message is in Dutch and there is no English translation. My shoestring account has been discontinued. Communication was poor regardless of the total cost; given the huge assumed cut Shoestring takes off the total price, it is inexcusable.
3) Advice. We were advised that 175 JD spending money would be adequate. This is simply false. A number of activities are described as optional, but no alternative activity is provided. These are both expensive (45 JD/person to drive to the Dead See & Jerks) and poorly communicated. This caused some issues with our guide, which could have seriously impacted the enjoyment of our travel. In addition, Jordan is an expensive country: lunches and dinners were the same price as you would expect to pay in London.