Change Tour Operators at Last Minute?

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Oct 8th, 2013, 10:40 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Jan 2006
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Change Tour Operators at Last Minute?

We're getting squeezed now by our TO for extra money for an itinerary they already priced months ago. Shidolya quoted a price of about $11,000 for my wife and I to do a private 12 night safari: 2 nights at Ngorongoro Serena, 4 nights at Kungwe Beach lodge at Mahale, 3 nights at Serengeti (2 at Serena, 1 at Mbuzi Mawe), and 3 nights at Whistling Thorne in Tarangire. Now they want an additional $770 per person! We just talked by phone and they way they made some mistakes in their pricing. We're really upset at these last minute changes. We've already made a $3,000 deposit. It's late to change TO's (we leave on 10/13 and our safari starts 10/22), and I'm afraid of losing our deposit. We really wanted to use an African company, but these changes are completely bogus. Any advice?
Ulunick is offline  
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Oct 9th, 2013, 12:08 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I can only suggest you try and tell them they have broken their contract with you and you want your deposit back. When they sputter and say that can not happen then tell them you will give them half of that amount, $770 for the two of you. Hopefully they will go with that. You've still lost but not as badly.

Too late now, but I'd always go with a TA/TO in my home country. You have stronger leverage and perhaps protective laws for such games.

You had problems with them from you Sep 27th posting. Sounds like they don't know what they are doing or are dishonestly out to pry more money from you.

Hope it all goes better than I suspect it might not. They may have more surprises waiting for you.

regards - tom
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Oct 9th, 2013, 04:07 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
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If the company made the mistake, they should fit the bill unless some last minute new taxes were introduced, which was on the cards in Tanzania. This might make it fair to split the difference but I understand the that this makes you upset and frustrated.

Social media and the internet does give you as a consumer a lot of power. You can really destroy a companies reputation online and this would be my draw card if they do not show some sort of cooperation. I would also do some research into any other complaints about this company online to see if this has happened before.If they have a good online rep then they will want to keep it that way and this might be your leverage.

I know a few local companies that run Tanzania operations that are really good but their are those that take advantage unfortunately.

It is a tough one and I really respect the fact that you are looking to book local.

Keep us posted!
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Oct 9th, 2013, 08:13 AM
  #4
 
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Unless there is some clause in your contract with them that allows them to change the price, any pricing mistakes should be on them. The only problem is that they could cause problems for you on the ground if you don't pay... cancel reservations, flights, etc. If you are considering paying them or "splitting the difference", insist on seeing "the books". How did they calculate your original price, what did they change, etc.? This should include all details, including whatever profit they are making. If they aren't willing to do that, their request is suspect. Their website shows a TATO membership, but they aren't listed as a member, also suspect. If you choose to press them to "eat" their mistake, point out that you can cause them a lot of problems on social media if they don't deliver, as well as pointing out their false advertising to TATO.
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Oct 9th, 2013, 09:40 AM
  #5
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Thank you all for your sympathetic feedback - it's great to have some shoulders to cry on. I was really upset last night after a phone call with them was unproductive and frustrating. The good news is that I just got an email from them saying they will honor their quoted price and take the loss: "We will just do this as part of marketing and we do hope that you will enjoy every moment you will be with us." Last night I contacted the other TO's we had contacted months ago, inquiring about last minute possibilities and giving them the itinerary and lodging we had negotiated with Shidolya. They all basically confirmed that the Shidolya price, even with the increase, was low. A couple of them had prices only slightly higher, and others said they would be much higher. As several of you advised, some of the other TO's also suggested we proceed with Shidolya, let go of any hard feelings, and just enjoy the trip.

BTW, I used the word bogus as an expression of disapproval rather than alleging that they are unscrupulous.
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Nov 18th, 2013, 04:47 PM
  #6
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Well, we're back from our AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL trip. Shidolya was fantastic, and they really salvaged our whole time in Tanzania after we missed a flight connection from Johannesburg. Our South African Express flight from Hoedspruit was over 2 hours late, so we missed the Ethiopian Air flight to Kilimanjaro. I thought we'd lose a day of our itinerary, but Shidolya rearranged our schedule to preserve the entire trip, at no extra cost - they were incredible! We were able to move our flight out of Tanzania to Egypt a day later so we could keep all 12 nights planned in Tanzania. We offered to pay 1/2 the difference in the quoted price and their corrected rates, and that compromise felt good on both ends. We had a very good driver/spotter (Priscus), and we saw a phenomenal variety of animals and birds and plants. Priscus even taught us a song in Swahili that we're still singing. Our accomodations were a little more deluxo than we anticipated, and we probably could have scaled down a little, but everything morning to night was fantastic. I can't cheer Shidolya enough after our experience with them. All in all, I think our invoice issues were really due to a difference in business practice between us and the African ownership, and we are glad we did decide to work with a locally owned company. If anyone wants for details on Shidolya, or our trip, don't hesitate to ask. We got so much help on this forus that we'll be glad to pass along our newfound experience. Wow, what a trip!
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May 7th, 2014, 09:39 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: May 2014
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Hi,

I am planning a trip with Shidolya this summer. Two things I wanted to ask

1) On their website Shidolya advertises that they are part of TATO, however when I checked the TATO website they are not listed. Did they give any clarification on this?

2) I have read that the owner is Lazarus Maphie, however, upon contact with the company, I have been emailing with a lady named Joan. Is she new and is this the same company? The website I am used is http://www.shidolya-safaris.com/

Thanks!
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May 7th, 2014, 02:04 PM
  #8
 
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I'm glad your trip went well. Shidolya even came through when a problem arose. All is well that ends well.
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May 13th, 2014, 02:37 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Great news! Very happy to hear all went well in the end. Sounded like they were professionals all the way through. I have worked with many ground operators there over the years and have found most (if not all) to be very honest and hard working and sincere. Of course there are exceptions but I have not found them (not that I am looking....).. Congratulations on a great trip and a good business experience.

Cheers,

Coke
www.cokesmithphototravel.com
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