Gate 1 Travel Complaint - Misrepresentation of trip to South America
GLENDSIDE, PENNSYLVANIA -- I'm a travel agent who always take the tour prior to taking a group on a tour, namely, The 9 Day Classic South America (Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, Rio de Janeiro) with Gate 1 Travel. I checked Gate 1 Travel references, and Gate 1 Travel is a member of USTOA, as if Gate 1 Travel should be more reputable than other tour operators who aren't members of USTOA.
I'm a very conscientious travel agent because I was a consumer of travel before I was a travel agent, and I have had some bad past experiences with tour operators. Also, I think the U.S. Government should regulate tour operators like the airlines, ete.
I have some questions and suggestions that you should ask your travel agent(s) before they book your travel. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org; www.jbraxtontravel.joystar.com.
I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to resolve the problem with Gate 1 Travel because one member of the group travelled with me on the 9 Day Classic South America trip. We met up with 9 other American tourists that were also booked on Gate 1 Travel's 9 Day Classic South America tour.
When I returned from the 9 Day Classic South America tour, I wouldn't recommend any of Gate 1 Travel's trips.
As you read my formal complaint to Gate 1 Travel, you will find the nightmare that we endured on the 9 Day Classic South America trip that Gate 1 was unwilling to acknowledged and/or compensate. The following is my formal complaint to Gate 1 Travel:
"I’m still traumatized by what happened to me directly and indirectly while I was on the 9 Day Classic South America tour booked by Gate 1. Also, I’m traumatized by what happened directly and indirectly to the other travelers in the group that were booked also by Gate 1.
I’ve prioritized the incidents that were most traumatic to me and the other Gate 1’s travelers.
(1) Edward Salinas didn’t give Varig Brazil Airlines at the time of booking Jeanette Braxton Secret and Erna Ponder-Highsmith’s United Airlines Mileage Plus. Edward Salinas assured me that he would give Varig Brazil Airlines our United Airlines Mileage Plus at the time of booking. He didn’t provide the service that he promised.
(2) Edward Salinas and I discussed on several occasion the itinerary to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Also, Edward Salinas emailed me a tentative itinerary to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and his tentative itinerary didn’t show a stop-over in Sao Pablo, Brazil. Also, he never once stated that Varig Brazil Airlines flies to Sao Pablo, Brazil before going to Buenos Aires, Argentina requiring passengers to de-plane in Sao Pablo, Brazil to catch a connecting flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
(3) Mary’s, tour guide, daughter who was waiting for us at the Buenos Aires, Argentina airport didn’t make herself accessible with a sign indicating that she was there to pick us at the airport. Mary’s daughter had a little sign in front of her chest that we couldn’t see. Erna Ponder-Highsmith and myself were wondering around in the Buenos Aires Ariport with our luggage trying to find the person that should have had a large sign with our names on it in the very front row so that we could see it. If it wasn’t for one of the other Gate 1’s travelers who came looking for us, we would have never been picked up at the Buenos Aires Airport.
(4) One of the desk clerks, Ivan, at the Hotel Park Chateau Kempinski, Buenos Aires, Argentina was very rued and had an attitude when he was asked by one of Gate 1 guest about converting money that Mary had to intervened.
(5) There was a lack of continuity between the tour guides in each country. Other tour operators, i.e. America Automobile Association, Tauck Agency, etc. has one tour guide that stays with the group from the beginning to the end of the tour even if the tour is in two or more countries. This is the first tour that I have been on that the travelers were always waiting for the tour guides and/or the transportation was late. There was a lack of service and accountability.
(6) Day 5, Tuesday – Iguassu Falls on the border of Argentina. There was a lot of confusion. The bus was late to the Iguassu Falls. We started out with Ilana May, but she left us with Jorge. Jorge was a nightmare. Ilana May and/or Jorge didn’t tell us that we would need our raincoat and/or umbrella for the tour through Iguassu Falls. After Ilana May left us at the Iguassu Falls with Jorge and when we got inside the Iguassu Falls, Jorge tells us that we can purchase a raincoat because we would get wet. We asked Jorge why didn’t he tell us before we were inside the Iguassu Falls because we all had raincoats and umbrellas in our suitcase on the bus. Notwithstanding, none of us purchased raincoats, and we all got wet at the Iguassu Falls. I and some of Gate 1 guests came down with a severe cold as a result of getting wet at the Iguassu Falls. It is the small things that count when providing first class service. Jorge had to be asked to get us maps of the Iguassu Falls from the information booth, Jorge was on his cell phone most of the time while he was suppose to be escorting us; Jorge chained smoke even none of smoke; Jorge instructed us to sit in the sun to wait for Ilana May when he left us at the Iguassu Falls. We didn’t get third class service from Jorge. Jorge wasn’t professional at all.
(7) Rio Othon Palace, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil is in the heart of Copacabana Beach.
Gate 1 didn’t fore-warn us that Copacabana Beach has a lot of crime. Conversely, Ipenema Beach doesn’t have as much crime. Also, most of the Americans stay on Ipenema Beach.
a. One of Gate 1’s guest and his daughter was almost mugged outside the front entrance of Rio Othon Palace by some Brazilian’s young men.
b. One of Gate 1’s guest was accosted by a prostitute outside the front entrance of Rio Othon Palace Hotel.
c. Twelve of Gate 1’s guests decided to walk to the flea market across the street from the Rio Othon Palace Hotel approximately after 10:30 pm after removing and leaving all our jewelry and accessories in the hotel safe. While we were waiting for the street light at the cross walk, about 50 Brazilian children between the ages of two and 12 circled us begging for money. Since I had already been mistaken as a Brazilian several times while I was in Rio, I started screaming at the Brazilian children in a couple of words that I knew in Portuguese because these Brazilian children were targeting Gate 1’s white Americans trying to get into their pockets to grab there money and wallets. Also, I noticed 100 feet away that the parents had encouraged their kids to go after the American tourists, and there was approximately another 50 kids standing around with their parents at the fence watching. The children took off, but we’ll were very traumatized by what had just happen. Your blond hair and blue eyed guests stated that they would never return to Brazil, and I don’t blame them if I was blond and blue eyed too.
Gate 1 has an office in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and you know that it isn’t safe on Copacabana Beach. Why didn’t Gate 1 book us in a hotel on Ipenema Beach which is much safer? Why didn’t Gate 1 tell us about the crime on Copacabana Beach?
d. While we were staying at the Rio Othon Palace, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, one of the tourist at the hotel was mugged and robbed on Copacabana Beach while we were there. While the tourist was making a purchase across from Rio Othon Palace on Copacabana Beach when he took his money out to pay for the purchase, a gang of Brazilian men
circled around him. They took over $250 Brazilian money and his hotel safety deposit key.
(e) While guest(s) at the Rio Othon Palace, we had to pay for ice; we were asked to go purchase towels across the street when we used the pool at Rio Othon Palace; we couldn’t get an iron and iron board in our room; we were accused of using water, etc. from the non-locked mini-bar when we didn’t get anything out of their mini-bar; etc. Erna Poner-Highsmith has a medical problem, and she needed ice on a daily basis. It took an act of God to get ice at Rio Othon Palace Hotel. Doesn’t Gate 1 provide service for their clients who has medical needs, i.e. diabetics?
The Rio Othon Palace Hotel’s staff had an attitude toward Americans. It was obvious that the staff at Rio Othon Palace Hotel don’t like Americans. I was told that Rio Othon Palace Hotel is owned by a Brazilian, and isn’t an international hotel. Why would you book Americans in a Brazilian hotel that only want our money, but don’t want to provide us with American standard services?
(f) Gate 1 booked a Hindu couple on this tour that are vegetarians, but didn’t provide vegetarian meals for them. I had ordered my own vegetarian meals on the returned flight to Miami, Florida on Varig Brazil that I gave to them. I think that it is very insensitive to book Hindu clients, and don’t provide them with the service of vegetarian meals.
(g) Day 8, Friday – Illan May left us again at the Brazilian barbecue with another one of Gate 1’s staff. On the way back to Rio Othon Palace Hotel, Gate 1’s guests on the bus asked the driver to drive pass the Xmas tree floating in the lagoon. According, to Gate 1’s staff interpretation of what the driver said, “I don’t have time,” the driver lost about $75.00 - $100.00 U.S. Dollars in tips that evening. Everyone on the bus was upset with the driver because it would have only taken him an additional 5 minutes to drive us to see the Xmas tree’s lights. Again, a lack of service from Gate 1. There were some other incidents that happened while we were on the 9 Day Classic South America, but they were too numerous to mention.
The purpose of my trip along with one of my clients was to do a site visit. There is no way that I would take my clients on the 9 Day Classic South America (Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, Rio de Janeiro). If I were to take any of my clients on this tour, I would no longer have any clients because of the way we were treated. Also, I don’t feel comfortable using Gate 1 as a tour operator for any of my travel.
This 9 Day Classic South America Tour was a nightmare, and I have been traumatized and stressed out about it.