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More bad experiences with 2Afrika. Do not use!

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Nov 14th, 2011, 05:11 PM
  #1
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More bad experiences with 2Afrika. Do not use!

Do not use 2Afrika for your travels. Ken Heiber’s utter lack of professionalism as well as professional ethics and integrity is unacceptable. There are other, reputable travel companies and agents out there.

I had been trying to plan my dream trip to Africa for about 4 years. Finally, in 2011, looking at my personal and professional plans for the next few years, I realized that it was now or never. And since my primary goal was to go cage diving with the great whites in Cape Town, my window was specific and narrow.

I have traveled extensively and have lived in 2 other countries and usually do my own planning. But Africa is no Europe or Asia (or even Central America), or so I thought, and I wanted to be able to rely on someone with experience in Africa travel (As it turned out, Africa is not nearly as intimidating to do on one’s own). I contacted Ken at 2Afrika about 4 months before I wanted to travel. He responded right away and was incredibly nice and helpful and encouraging. My trip was a bit complicated because I was planning on going in the beginning of August and traveling by myself and then my boyfriend was going to come and meet me mid-August and then we would complete the trip together. I made very clear from the beginning what my goals were and what my total budget was. Then—nothing. I couldn’t get a hold of him for months. Finally, I was able to catch him on the phone and we talked more about details about the trip. I reminded him of my budget, and hung up feeling very confident about the trip.

But then time kept ticking away and I was getting worried because nothing was booked yet. I was encouraged by other reviews about how Ken just does things at the last minute—that that’s his way—but things work out in the end. But I couldn’t even get any travel information from him—what to pack, how to pack, any weight limits, details about the trip. Nothing. A couple weeks out he reluctantly sent me some canned information about Africa, most of which dealt with TSA requirements for flying and nothing what I was looking for. After more in-depth digging, I later learned that this kind of information about what to expect and what to pack is commonly posted on travel websites.

When we were about a month from when I was supposed to leave, I started trying to contact Ken again. Again, it was difficult to get in touch with him. Then, about a week before I was supposed to leave, Ken emailed me to let me know that the company he had used in Botswana went belly up and that that part of the trip wasn’t going to happen. So we re-coordinated and everything seemed good to go. I kept asking for details, confirmations, cost estimates, etc. but couldn’t pull any information from him—just the standard “I’ll take care of everything, don’t worry”. The day before I was supposed to leave (THE DAY BEFORE I WAS SUPPOSED TO LEAVE) Ken emailed me to say that the first part of the trip was finalized—basically the first quarter or leg of a month-long trip—and to give me the cost for just that part of the trip. The cost for just that part of the trip was more than $2000 more than my budget set for the entire trip—a budget that was thoroughly and continually explained to him. Not only that, I was expected to simply leave for Africa and coordinate the rest of my trip while I was on the road! It’s not really my idea of a nice vacation to have to worry about coordinating the next phase of the trip with someone on the East coast of the U.S.!

So the day before I was supposed to leave I discovered that I may not be able to go. Best case scenario was that I would go, but not for a few more days and then everything would be re-coordinated. And because everything in Africa was already closed, I couldn’t do anything but wait until the next day. So in the mean time I of course started contacting other companies (which, yes, I realize I should have done a long time ago). I spoke with the owner of another company and the first thing she told me was that my budget was unrealistic for what I wanted. Why would Ken not have told me that 4 months prior? I could have completely rethought and reprioritized. Of course, Ken put it back on me and said that I should have been monitoring the website to see what each of the portions cost individually (BTW, each individual portion only added up to what I had budgeted). Three other companies I spoke with were shocked that things weren’t booked well in advance since flights and other things might be difficult to book. They all also mentioned that it would be a very bad idea to get to Africa without a complete itinerary and flight confirmations for onward travel for the simple reason of border controls and visas. I’m not sure on what planet it might be appropriate to wait until the day before I am supposed to leave to 1. give a cost estimate and 2. book flights, but that’s exactly what Ken did, and in doing so made me scramble to find another alternative and made me cancel nonrefundable stuff that I had already booked in Cape Town.

So I insisted that Ken re-coordinate everything and create a realistic trip for my budget and that I have everything booked and confirmed before I left. A day after my originally scheduled departure, sitting at home feeling like I had been duped big time and waiting by the phone for Ken to never call (he eventually called late in the day), I realized that I was just going to have to start calling around and book a scaled back trip by myself. So not only was I disappointed because my dream trip was now not what I had imagined, but my boyfriend is disappointed because the only part of the trip that he was looking forward to was impossible to do now. Of course, we both realized that just going to Africa at all would be amazing, but it was difficult to keep that focus not knowing if we would be able to go at all and if so, it would be a completely different trip than we had prepared for.

While I was looking for back-up plans, Ken continued to try to fix things to get me out imminently. I wasted more than a full week of precious vacation days that I had been saving for four years waiting for Ken to fix it. And then he STILL suggested that I leave before everything was finalized! I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such unprofessional and unacceptable service.

After losing eight vacation days (as well as sleep and sanity), I was finally able to find another travel agent to help me. Of course, Ken has refused to acknowledge my request for reimbursement of those eight vacation days. I have reported him to the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/new-jersey/busine...ty-nj-90121675).

My best guess is that Ken overwhelms himself with clients and then can’t devote sufficient and appropriate time for each and/or he is simply limited in his resources in Africa so when something gets screwed up he has no immediate back-up plan. I don’t know. But I do know that my dream vacation was a nightmare to plan and execute. I can’t in good conscience recommend using 2Afrika.
Amyjb is offline  
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Nov 14th, 2011, 06:06 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Yikes! Thanks for the warning. I do hope you are able to have an enjoyable trip, after all, but am sorry it is not working out at all like you had hoped.
KTtravel is offline  
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Nov 15th, 2011, 04:11 AM
  #3
 
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Sorry for your negative experience not uncommon for firstimers always wise to pay more for reputable BIG operators with financial mass.If you paid with credit card which I ALWAYS do file a merchant reversal/dispute with CC company.You will get an immediate 100% credit to your account and an investigation.Best way to fight back I know of.

insuremytrip.com always wise also fraud/cancellation

would have given you cover...

If something sounds too good to be true it usually is.

Thanks again for the head's up.
qwovadis is offline  
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Nov 15th, 2011, 04:17 AM
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It is not clear that you actually lost money.

did you lose money to him if so how much?

If you chose another agent and are demanding a refund

for money you did not lose then of course your demand

would be bogus.
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Nov 15th, 2011, 07:30 AM
  #5
 
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So sorry to hear of this experience, but not the first such thread here on Fodors or on Trip Adviser regarding 2Afrika and Ken Heiber.

"Trying to fix things" that should have been taken care of from the outset, is unacceptable. And, then to let your trip get so close to departure and not having anything firm......

Have to ask whether 2Afrika/Ken Heiber was the only company with whom you had been in touch when first starting to plan? If so, and as difficult to say... not a very good idea. Of course, there are many travelers who may contact 10+ (some even 20+) outfitters that can become a mess/confusing, starting with a group of may 5 outfitters is more reasonable and easier to handle in order to compare offerings.

And, as to the 8/days vacation lost... had you paid anything for whatever it was that was to be provided? Or is it just 'lost days?' If the latter, not much can be done.

In the end though I do hope the company you did find to pull this together for you, provided the African adventure you had hoped for.

It seems that 2Afrika/Ken has extended themselves far in excess as to what can/cannot be provided. To me, it's better to tell a client 'can't do with your budget' or 'your requests are unreasonable' or 'we cannot work with you' then leave the client hanging... most unprofessional.

Thanks though for posting your experiences and I hope future safari planners read this and take note and are cautious of what to do/not, and what to expect within a reasonable amount of time while planning.
sandi is offline  
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Nov 16th, 2011, 06:22 AM
  #6
 
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Thanks for the detailed account and so sorry for the disappointments and inconvenience. This was a major lapse on 2Afrika's part that really derailed your trip.

What company did you end up using? How was the trip once you got there.

Again, appreciate your time and effort to explain the situation from your side so the rest of us are aware.
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Jan 21st, 2012, 02:42 PM
  #7
 
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In August 2011, I had a very bad experience with Ken at 2Afrika. I highly recommend that you do not use his services.

I had a trip planned to Africa that he totally dropped the ball on following up to ensure everything was confirmed. I was calling him almost daily about a month before my trip, he assured me that everything was in order. I become nervous as the trip was down to less than a week away and Ken was unresponsive or noncommittal with his responses.

To make a long story very short, he kept telling me to trust him that he would get me out on my scheduled day. He kept me waiting for a confirmation on my departure day up to 4 hours before I was due to leave. I never got out that day or that month for my safari. I had planned this trip about 8 months in advance because I wanted to go during the Great Migration. I was able to reschedule the trip at a cost to me for changing my airline ticket and missing the migration.

This fiasco could have been avoided if Ken had checked with his contacts in Africa on a timely basis. Also, he didn't follow up on confirming hotel reservations and at one stop, I was booked in a room with a couple that was on the tour. Ken thought this was humorous.

I am doubtful that ken will cooperate on good morals and faith to assist me with the difference in airfare. I'll probably end up in small claims court if i want to get compensated.

Please do not use 2Afrika if you want a stress free, well,planned trip.
travelin44 is offline  
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Nov 22nd, 2012, 04:50 AM
  #8
 
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Just thought I would mention that there is a long cautionary tale about this company in the mosot recent, 12.12, issue of Conde Nast Traveler, in their Ombudsman column.
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Dec 7th, 2012, 05:38 PM
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We just got back from a 13 day trip with Ken Hieber and can't even begin to tell you what nightmare trip it was. After 3 days my group of 15 traveler's were pulled to the side of the road and told the trip was being terminated since 2 Avila never paid the ground tour operators even though we paid a year and three months prior being told if paid in advance he will be accompanying as and throwing in a balloon trip over the serrengeti.

This company was promoted in budget traveler by framer's as well being a guest on their travel radio show numerous times so who would have thought they would be promoting a fraud. He left us in a very dangerous situation and took us !8 hours to reach him and even at that said money would come. Long story but had to reach us embassy who got us out of a most dangerous town and he did nothing to hel us. We spent 3 days waiting for the money to arrive and never did. Ground tour company made a deal with us for more money we could salvage 5 days of a trip of a lifetime.

We are home 3 weeks now and still promises from him to give us back the money. We have contacted bbb, attorney general, FBI and major networks who are very interested in our story. I can back up everything I am saying and much more. He took Tyne dreams of a lifetime away from 15 people and left us with some of the most frightening times of my life. He needs to be put away and never to do business anywhere ever again.
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Jan 17th, 2013, 08:20 AM
  #10
 
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Wow, please let us know what happens, Frann, as a result of the many contacts you have made.
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Feb 17th, 2013, 04:51 PM
  #11
 
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Update on 2 Afrika. His rating on the BBB went from a B+ to an F. He is being investigated by the Attorney General in NJ. Frommer's told him to get them off his website does not want any association with him. Also just found out he was kicked out of ASTA. We have had no contact with him and he never gave any of the 15 a penny back from all of his promises to make good on a nightmare of a trip. This man is a fraud and just want any one considering a trip with him to please don't give him your money. You maybe the lucky one that gets the trip since he must be running a ponzi scheme but he has no regard for your satisfaction, safety or security as is advertised on his website. If I can stop anyone from engaging his company I will feel great satisfaction that I saved you from our experience. If anyone needs more info please feel free to contact me.
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Feb 17th, 2013, 05:51 PM
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Frann, sorry to hear you got nothing back. Thanks for the update.
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Mar 30th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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As someone who is also out several thousand dollars for funds promised in writing to be returned but never received, am hoping that 2Afrika's web site being down for several days means that Ken Hieber is now out of business. Hopefully also the mult. recent complaints to the NJ Attorney General's office regarding his fraudulent behavior also mean he is now being investigated.
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Mar 31st, 2013, 02:13 PM
  #14
 
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Brittravelor - Good to hear and hopefully this will be the end of him, a cheat and liar. But we've got to be on guard he doesn't open under another name. And, if he is indeed a South African and hasn't changed his citizenship... be sent home for good.
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Aug 7th, 2013, 07:57 AM
  #15
 
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Some months have passed since the last posting on this thread and 2Afrika is still operating. I was a victim of Mr. Hieber and 2Afrika in November 2010. So far no one has responded to any of my letters reporting that fraud. It appears that crime does indeed pay!
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