CAMBRIDGE, MA, MASSACHUSETTS -- In October of 2005 my wife and I booked a trip to Peru with Smithsonian Journeys located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The trip is scheduled for May, 2006. We selected this tour because of a great interest in the ruins of Machu Picchu and because it was one of the very few tours that included a stay in Sanctuary Lodge which is the ONLY hotel located within the walls of Machu Picchu. As one of the seven wonders of the modern world, it was CRITICALLY important to us to stay in that facility to achieve our travel desires. We paid a deposit of $500 for each of us.
Over a month later we noticed in one of the brochures from the company that the tour would NOT be staying in Sanctuary Lodge but in another facility some miles away from the monument itself. When I called the company to inquire about this change in January, 2006 I was told that the company uses several different hotels for that part of the trip and they were not going to use Sanctuary Lodge on this trip. I told them that staying at Sanctuary Lodge was the ONLY reason we selected this tour and that if the tour was not going to stay at Sanctuary Lodge we would like to cancel our participation in the tour and have our deposits returned. They refused to do so.
After a series of letters were exchanged they continued to refuse to refund our deposit offering only “travel vouchers” for another tour. In NONE of the letters does the company deny having switched hotels without notification. Obviously, this is unacceptable to us since we believe that Smithsonian Journeys used a form of “bait and switch” and we can NEVER trust this company again. We are experienced travelers and we have never been treated in such a shoddy manner by any other tour operator.
We believe this “bait and switch” tactic to be unethical and the failure to refund our deposits is, at the very least, a terrible business practice. We would like to alert you to the practices of this company as we believe them to be totally unacceptable for any legitimate travel agent.