How do I report a Marrakesh riad?

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Dec 16th, 2008, 04:47 AM
  #1
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How do I report a Marrakesh riad?

I spent three weeks in Morocco in November (trip report after Christmas, I promise!), finishing with what I hoped would be a comfortable, maybe even luxurious, stay in a riad in Marrakesh. I picked the Dar Silsila on the basis of tripadvisor reports - nearly 200 very favorable - what could go wrong? Well, I suffered through an uncomfortable night, a feeble shower, a pathetic breakfast and found none of the attentive service I expected. So I decided to leave rather than putting up with the place for two more nights.

The hotel staff wouldnít let me leave! They insisted that I pay for the other two nights. One member of staff locked the only door and stood in front of it. Eventually she had to open it to let in other guests and I was able to get out, but it was very upsetting.

The owner had wanted payment in advance, in cash and in euros! Since I didnít have the cash I told him would pay dirhams after I went to the bank, but I found it suspicious. Iíve stayed in many hotels, pensions, guesthouses, B&Bs and private rooms in Europe and Asia since I started traveling, and I can only recall being asked for payment in advance by agencies handling rooms in private homes in Eastern Europe - hardly the case here. Also, the owner never asked for my passport, so he couldnít have registered me, but he was still charging the hotel tax.

I have posted a review on tripadvisor, and contacted the site about the many reviews of this riad: of the 50 most-recent, most-favorable English language reviews 31 are from people who have only posted once, and the total is suspiciously large for a place this size. However, I would also like to report them to the tourist authorities in Morocco. Does anyone know if this - www.visitmorocco.com - is the right place?
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Dec 16th, 2008, 02:08 PM
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the site you linked is the national tourism office - so that seems appropriate to me in order to get the message across.

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Jan 4th, 2009, 03:57 AM
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Sorry, thursdaysd, not to be able to help with anything but sympathy, Wondering if you reported and got any response from the tourist office website?

I was lucky enough to notice the highly suspicious pattern of tripadvisor postings for Morocco before we booked, it seems Morocco and Turkey are the worst offenders.

I ended up cross referencing the trip advisor reviews with several conventional guidebooks, and we fortunately ended up with only good experiences.

Its irritating that many of the best riads in Marrakech and Fes, those who don't pursue the phony reviewing tactics, end up well down the tripadvisor list and lose vital business to these scam artists.

If you haven't already, e-mail a complaint to tripadvisor as well (I did).

Looking forward to the report!

maytraveller
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Jan 5th, 2009, 06:14 AM
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maytraveller - no, I haven't written to the tourist board yet - holiday season intervened. But I did send a complaint to tripadvisor about the pattern of reports on the Dar Silsila, as did the couple who witnessed the incident. The other couple did get an acknowledgement of their email. I haven't even gotten an acknowledgement, and they have made no changes to the postings.

However, I am so annoyed by the lies in the owner's response to my review that I'll probably send another complaint. For example, he says I complained that the room was too small, the one complaint I DIDN'T have! And he says I was trying to get a refund, when they were trying to get money from me, not the other way round. No response at all about the fact that his staff imprisoned me.

"Its irritating that many of the best riads in Marrakech and Fes, those who don't pursue the phony reviewing tactics, end up well down the tripadvisor list and lose vital business to these scam artists." Very true. In fact, the riad I moved to after I left the Silsila, www.riadhasna.com, isn't even listed on Tripadvisor.
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Jan 9th, 2009, 05:28 AM
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First port of call with a problem like this should be the tourist division on the local police. They are often quite evident in the medina, despite plain clothes, thanks to their walkie talkies.

After problems years ago with tourists being hassled, mainly by faux guides at the entrances to the medinas, a very strict policy was introduced and anyone responsible scamming tourists is in deep trouble.

If in doubt ask a uniformed policeman; or there's a police station on Jma el Fna.
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Jan 9th, 2009, 07:24 AM
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Thanks for the reply, Mark. I did try to call the tourist police while the Silsila was holding me prisoner, but I couldn't get service on my cell phone. Having escaped, I decided to get on with my trip and deal with things later.
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Jan 9th, 2009, 08:33 AM
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Just browsing through as normally on the Asia forum but this caught my attention.

maytraveller has a very good point.

'Anyone' it appears can write a review on tripadvisor, no proof at all they stayed, there are places in Asia that would not get 1 star are claimed to be 'better' than 5 star, continual reports as such.

Also places get loussy reviews posted by who knows who and their business suffers. A friend who owned a B&B in Northern Thailand had 2 absolutely awfull bad reviews posted there on dates the place was not even open ! closed for 4 weeks refurbishment in the low season. Try as they might they could never ever get those reviews deleted. In the end they lost so much business they had no choice but change their name !
Booking sites where people have had to have booked and stayed at a place are the only reliable reviews you will get.
Good luck.
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