Courtesy and Professionalism.

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Apr 27th, 2004, 10:01 AM
  #1
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Courtesy and Professionalism.


I have been visiting this forum since I discovered it in February of this year and enjoyed finding others that love Africa as much as I do. What I've really come to appreciate is everyone's perspective and opinions on the different topics on this forum. There have also been a lot of ideas, advice, and money saving tips that I've learned.

Not everyone thinks alike and that is what makes this place so special. Most of you guys are straight shooters and tell it like it is. Good or bad. I can't speak for others but I do appreciate candidness.

Unfortunately, my first trip to Africa (other than living there as a wee little kid) was not the greatest experience. However, as I've stated in previous threads, it has in no way discouraged me from returning.

Upon viewing a thread asking about experiences with a specific tour operator, I stated what my thoughts were from my experience with the same. They were not happy thoughts. Rather than get into it on this forum, I told the folks inquiring further that they could email me personally and I would go into a little more detail. Even then, I refrained from going into too much detail only to say that, from our experience, I think there are better operators out there. Remember, I am only speaking from our experience and viewpoint.

The drama that has unfolded since then is ridiculous. If this situation had been handled properly from the beginning, it would have never made it to this forum. Or as a courtesy to others visiting here, she could have done what I did and address each person individually. It is my opinion that for the tour operator to come here and start what they did is very unprofessional and insulting.

I thought since this was a forum for travelers, we should be able to say what we've experienced on our journeys whether good or bad. If a tour operator visits this forum they should realize that they may or may not like what is being written. So be it. Remember, people write from their experiences.
And that is just my opinion.
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Apr 27th, 2004, 01:33 PM
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I agree fully. This board is about travellers (and "experts" who participate purely to help) sharing experiences and advice.

Operators who find negative reviews of themselves here should perhaps consider whether they do themselves any favours by their attempts to rebutt them.

I can understand that, if they feel they have been maligned unfairly, there must be a strong temptation to intervene but...

... quite frankly, when you had simply posted that you had not had a good experience and wouldn't recommend that company personally I took your advice and moved on. I felt that I had been made aware that I might want to do further research on the operator should I be considering using them in the future, but certainly had made no decision to definitely not use them based on the comments and experiences of one poster. Now that the operator has intervened and posted here, I am very unlikely to use them, since I feel the whole episode has been handled unprofessionally and leaves an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Ironic result for the operator's efforts, really.


Sandy, I hope you will not be disillusioned with sharing your experiences and continue to participate and share your personal opinions, which we are all entitled to, with us here on the board.

Incidentally, I only picked up your name from the operator's postings here. May I ask whether you'd posted it here yourself prior to that or whether the operator divulged it herself? If the latter, very unprofessional in a world where maintaining privacy on the net is very important to many.
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Apr 27th, 2004, 03:52 PM
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Kavey,
Thanks so much for your positive feedback. It is really appreciated.

Like I mentioned, I have really enjoyed this forum. I could eat, drink, and sleep Africa and sometimes it's so hard to find others that enjoy the same passions.

I'm not at all disillusioned with this board. Far from it. It does sting a little bit because of what has happened here in the last week or so. But that's got nothing to do with you guys.

I have only stated the facts as they happened on our trip. I do not embellish. There were times though, when things were so bad I was looking around for hidden cameras to make sure we weren't being punk'd by Ashton Kutcher.

And for the record, no, I did not reveal my name on this board. It was the tour operator who did that. And I do not appreciate it one bit. It just goes to show you what I've been dealing with all these months.

Thanks again for understanding my position.



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Apr 27th, 2004, 07:06 PM
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Divewop, I don't know if you recall but I am the person who posted to your situation before. I think your message to Born Free asking that she now communicate with you directly was wise. You have come across as being as quite patient and reasonable. And I am also pleased to hear that Born Free has committed to mailing you a refund and that it is on the way. I want to encourage agents to make good on their promises. When you do receive your refund, would you please post to the board? As it's coming from the states, I expect you'll receive it within a few days and then we can close this chapter.
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Apr 27th, 2004, 08:15 PM
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Divewop, I hope your next trip to Africa more than makes up for the bad experience you have just had.

Perhaps a good topic for discussion would be "lessons I've learned from other trip disasters, and how I will try to avoid the same mistakes in the future". I have had some really bad ones-- but not in Africa.

And I often find myself wondering why I ignored the early signs of trouble, and what other signs I missed that I should have been on the lookout for...so I can avoid another disaster trip like that one (which was a sailing trip in the Galapagos.)

Anyway, so sorry that your experience went so wrong...
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Apr 28th, 2004, 06:00 AM
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Clematis,
I do remember your previous post and know you are also a regular on this board.

I do believe if it wasn't for all the support from you guys, the refund would have never happened. I too, look forward to closing this chapter. I will let you guys know as soon as I get it.

Thanks for being supportive.

By the way Tashak, I don't know if you've seen other posts on this board, but we went to South Africa in March of this year for only a week for my birthday present.

It did take some convincing on my part to get my husband to return but I'm one that doesn't give up easily.

Other than a slight glitch en route with the plane(mechanical problems) and passengers being delayed in Senegal for 30 hours, the trip was fantastic.

It's a bummer we lost a day of the trip because of the plane problems, but we couldn't have asked for it to turn out better.

It restored faith to my husband that Africa is a wonderful place. We're even considering returning at the end of the year.

Ironically, I went on a dive trip to the Galapagos in June of last year and it was one of the best trips I've taken. So sorry to hear your's didn't turn out as well.

I'd be interested in knowing what happened with your trip, but I guess we'd have to discuss it on the Latin America forum. Or you can email me at [email protected]

I am hoping to return there sometime this summer or fall as well.

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Apr 28th, 2004, 06:07 AM
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I thought I would not post again but you know folks this is quite disturbing. You all need to know that said traveller wrote a critic to us at the end of her trip where she said that all services were good to fair the guide was even good to fair - quality of service was listed as excellent food good and location good.

When can a company protect themselves?
Just hand out refunds to anyone who asks? you are all business people. If 'you' received a comment sheet as she wrote then all of a sudden started complaining and requesting refunds...and story changing and changing - you would question it as well.

I may loose clients over this posting but I will not just keep quiet. Sandy was wonderful on the phone, she was charming cooperative and the ideal traveller as she appears on this site. I do not know where the conflict comes in.

If you all could read her true correspondence you would be as confused on her experiences as I am.

Since you all need to know - I have tried calling her numerous times. There is no answering maching. She will be getting a partial refund for a delayed flight, she will be getting a refund for the inconvenience of the guide having to stop for fuel. Mind you there are two types of fuel and they were never without fuel for game drives or for camp services.

In due course she will be getting a refund for the Selous Safari Camp.

Again, Born Free is a good company and in 30 years this is not the only unhappy client we have had. But, we have had very very few and the majority have been more then pleased.

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Apr 28th, 2004, 08:42 AM
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Mark, I worked in the tour operations industry in the UK for almost 5 years and we certainly had our fair share of customers who tried it on afterwards in the hope of getting a refund.

I have to say that this case does not strike me as such.

At the end of the day only Alana and Divewop will really know the truth of the matter and each will have their own perceptions on that.
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Apr 28th, 2004, 08:48 AM
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Just to set things straight yet another time, Alana only tried calling me yesterday for the first time since last July. Yesterday our caller ID showed a number from Denver and I was in and out yesterday in the process of moving. There was no message left. It 's not like I would not take her call. She just didn't leave a message.

She called me once again this morning and I was home and did take her call. She then told me she posted this last reply. However, I didn't realize it was so harsh.

It is a shame I cannot respond to any of the postings to me on this forum without having her reciprocate in some harsh manner.

We weren't putting our hands out asking for a refund. She said she would give us one in an email she sent last year. I was only holding her to that promise.

I also told her the comment sheet was filled out fair to good because once again, when we were leaving Arusha the guide was standing right there when we filled it out.

We weren't in any position to put anything too negative about him down when he was right in front of us. My husband did write down in front of him that he thought he should lighten up.

We did not have any gripes about the food. I never mentioned we did. The service at some of the game lodges were good as well as the accommodations. I have never said they weren't. We did not spend the night sleeping with the guide at the Crater Lodge nor at Kikoti camp. Were we supposed to?

If anyone would like to see the original correspondence I would be happy to forward my emails to you.

I also gave Alana the names of people who own a game reserve in Kenya who could verify the character of my husband and me. She is also free to call the folks at CCAfrica at Phinda Vlei and Londololzi Tree and Bateleur camps if she likes. They should answer her questions if she thinks we are difficult to get along with. I do not like it when she starts questioning my character.

I never said we did not have fuel for the drives. I told her again that we did not have any for the electricity to run the mobile camp for more a couple hours on only two of the four days.

I sincerely hope that our talk this morning resolved some of the issues that we've butted heads on.

Like I told Alana, I think if she had called when we first returned from our trip, alot of this could have been avoided. But because of certain circumstances she felt she could not call at the time. I would have taken a phone call two months down the road.

If she would like to keep posting so she can bash us and have the last word, then she can. I am just tired of all of this.

I only hope that some valuable lessons have been learned and that this will not happen to anyone else.



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Apr 28th, 2004, 09:10 AM
  #10
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By the way, she never did tell me what was in her post when we talked.

I thought that after we talked this morning she would do a follow-up post shortly thereafter. I was hoping she'd let you all know and that the tone was a little harsh. Oh well..
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