We are deeply saddened to report that our experience with this travel agency was not up to our expectations and regretfully, that we cannot recommend their services to other travelers.We do not feel like we were really listened to in planning the trip, or if we were listened to, there was not enough communication between the travel planner, who talked to us about our goals and desires, and the travel specialist, who apparently was in charge of logistics. This resulted in some worthless tours and other tours that did not comport with our agreement when we booked the trip. For example, we asked for a sunset boat tour of Dubrovnik but were provided with a motorboat tour that started north of Dubrovnik and went straight out to sea and back with no sights and no commentary. One Venice tour and one Rome tour were booked as standard tourist tours without consideration of our interests, as we had discussed. We were booked on some “small group” tours, which, in our experience, are 8-10 or fewer guests, but the Agency booked us on tours that had way more people, in one case 18, and the other case, more. It was not until the middle of our trip that the Agency disclosed its position that a “small group” tour is less than 25 people. Had this been disclosed previously we would not have booked these tours, to Mostar, and Murano/Burano, both of which were worthless. Other worthless tours were in Plitvice, where the guide walked us around paths that were clearly marked on the park map, and Lake Bled, where we already had a rental car so we ended up with three overlapping sets of costs – for the rental car, for parking, and for the tour, which was basically transportation to Lake Bled.
We feel that there was insufficient attention to detail when compiling the final travel packet, resulting in numerous mistakes as well as discrepancies between our itinerary and the provided service vouchers. For example, train tickets issued in the wrong name, a missing Korcula tour, a missing voucher, inaccurate pick up locations, etc.
We feel that there was often insufficient information provided to be helpful to us during our travels. And then some of the information provided was just wrong, particularly in Croatia, leading us to conclude that the Agency did not really know the country very well. We encountered multiple problems with rental cars, including the need to pay an additional 45 euros for inter-country travel, contrary to the Agency’s representation, inadequate information about how to access parking at various hotels, causing us to drive endlessly in circles in busy town centers and then jump out and walk to the hotels to inquire, and maps without street names or landmarks that were basically useless. And in one case the information provided, even with a map, was just plain wrong. We were not advised that all the lodging in the old towns required substantial climbing – both outside and inside, since most of the accommodations were up 3 to 4 flights of stairs, generally narrow, uneven, and winding, with no assistance in carrying heavy luggage. And one lodging was located up 174 steps from town, difficult to maneuver in the dark. One of the reasons we decided to use a travel agency that holds itself out as experienced in the country to which we were travelling was for practical information about cultural norms and financial practices, but we were provided with none of that type of information. For example, it would have been helpful to know that the majority of restaurants and services in Croatia do not accept credit cards, so you need to have a lot of cash. Or that hotels charge a city tax to be paid at departure in cash (and that apartments are not allowed to charge that tax). Or that taxis cost a minimum of 100 Kuna, about $16, regardless of how far you are travelling.
The lack of knowledge about the country also led to some illogical itineraries, which added to travel times and to costs. For example, even though we were making our way East to West, one itinerary had us backtrack east, increasing travel times and costs. Another itinerary had us stay at lodging near a park entry gate, but it could only be used if you had tickets ahead of time, which we did not have, and which should have been purchased on line since the Park limits the number of visitors daily.
In some cases, instead of admitting they did not know the answer to our questions, the Agency just made things up. The most blatant example occurred in Dubrovnik where there was confusion about the pick-up location – the Pile Gate or the Ploce gate. The Agency told us that they were the same gate because “Ploce is the Croatian word for Pile.” Not only was that incorrect but the gates were on the opposite side of the walled city imperiling our ability to meet up with the tour.
After the trip was sold to us, instead of being provided cheerful service, we were shamed and scolded when we tried to obtain clarification on discrepancies between our itinerary and the provided vouchers and when we sought additional information to resolve ambiguities or lacking information.
The Agency never accepted responsibility for their mistakes but instead treated our attempts for clarification as a demand for “additional” information or services, which was provided grudgingly and with repeated admonishments that we were not sufficiently grateful for all the work they had performed on our behalf.
Most distressing, however, were the accusations about our motives in seeking additional information, as was said in one email: “I must point out that the premise of your inquiries seem to be to catch a mistake on our part and there is a bit of implication that we have charged you for something and not provided it…” So instead of joyfully anticipating our trip, we were forced to spend time placating the Agency. We never questioned their integrity, we simply tried to obtain clarity on the details of our trip. It was a straight business proposition.
During our trip, we were hesitant to contact the Agency and our “concierge,” because when we did so, if any assistance was forthcoming, it was given grudgingly and with more admonishments. We were repeatedly told that we had “already been” given the information, ignoring that we had to ask again because the information provided was ambiguous or self-contradictory. And on one occasion that we really needed help, when a hotel insisted our room was not paid for, and demanded that we pay, the Agency did not respond to our calls and texts for several hours and then when it did respond, it admonished us for paying the hotel (which we had to do in order to leave) and not calling them, ignoring the fact that we had done so. It was so unpleasant that we just stopped calling.
All in all it was a very stressful experience, from the planning stage through the trip itself. Unfortunately, the trip was more stressful than if we had planned it ourselves. We never felt like we were valued customers but were treated as unreasonably demanding “problem” clients that had to be dealt with and put in our place. We are experienced travelers and nice people. We hired a travel agency, at great cost, to reduce the stress of planning a long trip. We never expected we would be excoriated for asking for mistakes to be corrected, for information that was not provided, and for clarification of ambiguous information.
There were many more issues, too numerous to set forth here, should anyone be interested.
Our first experience with Zicasso was fabulous. Unfortunately, this one was not.
Linda and Mark
Plan for a little more down time. Explore different lodging options.
TRAVEL COMPANY COMMENTS:
Dear Ms. B,
Yours is the first and only 1-star review in our long and successful history. It is something we have never seen before and something that has shocked us terribly. Traveling with us is a very personal experience - one to which we give all that we have. We are saddened by your review and quite surprised given the overwhelmingly positive experiences our other travelers have had. Throughout the planning process and during the operation of your trip, we had thought we had a rapport earned through many hours of work and effort. It is dismaying to discover that that feeling was not mutual.
We are sorry to hear that you feel that so much of your experience was negative. We worked with you from your first request with many long phone calls (a few over 3 hours in length late into the night) during which every detail of every aspect of your trip was reviewed and re-reviewed many times over; many emails answered and sent, and frequent counseling of all forms both before and during the trip was provided so that you had exactly the trip you wished for. Detailed descriptions, times, maps and the number of participants per were provided verbally, in email, in text, and in your travel packet – only to be included in the trip after you had approved each destination and tour separately. We are sorry that some of your tours were not to your liking. We did recommend private tours throughout and had them in place until we received the request that we change them to small groups to save on costs. After all our conversations and correspondence, we felt that we were on the same page and no doubt could possibly remain.
In addition to the top level personal guidance and service we provide every traveler, we arranged special services at no cost to arrange personnel who carried bags wherever possible, to assist with parking and to cover any cost of driving internationally with your rental vehicles – a standard fee whenever crossing borders in the region.
Your request was for a trip that would take you off the beaten path to less-visited parts of Europe that were outside of the traditional destinations, with a heavy self-drive element for the independence it afforded you, and with a budget that came in substantially under your original request and with three more days of touring added. Your itinerary contained 31-days of logistics and planning which we managed to provide under budget, and without a single snag or error along the way. That is no small feat. We notice your review does not mention any complaint about a missed tour, an incorrect stay, or any error or lack of service whatsoever which we are happy to see. Of the hundreds of travelers we send to Europe every year, we’ve not received any feedback about a lack of information or “worthless” tours or guides. This has been a true learning experience and we look forward to providing future clients with stellar travel experiences.
Each review is written by a verified traveler who was matched by Zicasso to the reviewed agency. Traveler must have purchased and traveled.
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