Interesting 2Afrika Story in Magazine.

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Aug 19th, 2005, 06:20 PM
  #1
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Interesting 2Afrika Story in Magazine.

Hey all, there has been much chatter about the tour operator 2Afrika on this board of late. I always read these threads with interest because we had an amazingly cool trip with them in 2002. Imagine my surprise opon opening my latest copy of Fr**mmers Budget travel mag and finding an article about them. Or rather, about some disgruntled ex employee who left the company then started his own apparently "bogus" company called Empire State Travel. According the the story many clients have been stuck in "limbo" by this Empire company and no one can get ahold of the owner (who apparently was very vehement in his anger towards 2afrika and the owner, I wonder Kavey could this be that poster that had to be deleted?).
The article goes on to say that people from 2Afrika are trying to help out the victems of the Empire mess by rebooking them and assisting those left high and dry by this other company. So I guess anyone booking or thinking about booking with Empire Trael should NOT do so..
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Aug 20th, 2005, 12:38 AM
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Sounds VERY much like it.
That venemous post here was posted by a user called MichaelK.
I went to 2afrika's site and somewhere on their About Us page was a mention of someone called Michael K**** (I forget now what that surname was). He was down as secondary in management chain to Mr Hieber.
After the thread was deleted I went back to the page and it had finally been updated and his name removed.
So I'd guess so.
How sad this all is.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 04:49 AM
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It's situations such as this, that give the travel business a bad name and the client's are the ones to suffer unaware of what's going on.

Not smart for anyone to burn their bridges. If you don't like where you work or want to start your own operation, do it... but don't leave damaged clients behind. It'll all come back to kick/bite you in the butt. If you must, say "I hate your guts, goodbye" and be on your way. Remember "you get more with sugar, then vinegar."

Thyra, thanks for the heads up on the 2Afrika situation; now, let's hope we can put this to bed!
 
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Oct 18th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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I'm reading this with interest as I recently went on a safari tour with 2Afrika.

While at dinner one night, this subject came up. A few people had what sounds like the situation Thyra describes. They inquired about a safari and this particular person at 2Afrika priced it out. Then out of nowhere they got emails from another company with the exact same itinerary but for much less money. When these customers mentioned this to 2Afrika, the 2Afrika person suggested, 'Well, you should book with them instead', driving business away from 2Afrika and seemingly to HIS own newly started company.

Evidently Ken fired this person and had to spend loads of time fixing the mess this person made. I'm glad it's exposed, as I think 2Afrika does a great job with safaris at a reasonable cost.
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Oct 18th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Digital Diva
Thanks for the extra information.
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Oct 18th, 2005, 12:57 PM
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Just an added bit of information on this subject - Michael K**** was and is in charge of a division of Mr. Heiber's company. It appears that his name was used to add further confusion to the past employee's "smear" campaign. I've used 2Afrika for two previous trips to East Africa, and plan to go to Botswana with them next year; I've found their services to be outstanding.

A bad business all around, both for the slandered company, and for the victims of the scan artist.
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Oct 18th, 2005, 01:00 PM
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Oh how awful, so the disgruntled ex-employee ISN'T even this Michael K character? Sheesh.
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Oct 18th, 2005, 02:47 PM
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The names used by scammer are
Brett Lorenzo
aka Noel Mendoza
aka Brett Lorenzo Favre

EXCEPT FROM THE BUDGET TRAVEL ARTICLE:

"...But afterward Brett failed to return her e-mails. Full payment for the trip was due in mid-June, and Therese grew anxious. She called 2Afrika asking if the company knew anything about Empire State Travel. Kenneth Hieber,president and CEO of 2Afrika, dropped a bomb: Brett Lorenzo was someone who Ken knew as Noel Mendoza, a 2Afrika employee who had been siphoning off clients for a separate operation-none other than Empire State Travel.

Ken had learned about the scheme in mid-April, around the same time Therese had sent her check to Empire-also around the same time that Brett/Noel disappeared. Ken knew that Noel was a big Green Bay Packers fan, and he eventually deduced that his former staffer had adopted as his alias the
first and middle names of quarterback Brett Lorenzo Favre. He also discovered that Noel's green card was fake, so Noel's real name was likely neither Noel nor Brett. ..."
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Oct 18th, 2005, 03:12 PM
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How bizarre... sounds like a bad movie plot
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Oct 19th, 2005, 12:51 PM
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I began dealing with Noel in January 2005 to book a safari with 2Afrika leaving Nov 2005. I made several phone calls to Noel and he signed me up for the trip over the phone, not by company policy (as I was to find out). Never was asked for a deposit which I considered strange, but was always assured that I had reservations. Finally in August , I became concerned at the lack of follow thru. I phoned 2Afrika and was told that Noel was let go by Ken. Ken was very accommodating and probably worked overtime to book this trip for us as we had originally added a few extras not on the normal itinerary. We leave 1 month from yesterday and just got a payment to Ken on Monday. That's how close this ordeal came to not happening. We are combining 10 days in Egypt with 10 days in Tanzania and 1 day in Nairobi (due to airline schedules).

I would recommend 2Afrika due to the hard working Ken's ability to pull a trip together at the last month.
Tom
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Oct 19th, 2005, 03:46 PM
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I used 2Afrika for my Kenya safari in 2002 and wasn't aware of this particular bit of "slander." I did see a number of conflicting opinions about 2Afrika recently and was disturbed to see it, as we had a wonderful trip on which the only screwup was with the onsite operator, not 2Afrika. I'm so glad to see the truth come out about all this. The five of us on that trip (including Thyra and her husband) had nothing but high praise for 2Afrika. And you can't beat the price we paid for a 5-person safari!
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Oct 20th, 2005, 03:53 PM
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Glad to receive some clarification on this. BTW, has anyone verified whether 2Afrika is ATA registered or bonded? That was one of the concerns raised by the problems experienced by Wanderlust123 as I recall...

Cheers,
Julian
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