Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page > tour operator requesting transfer of money into their bank account

tour operator requesting transfer of money into their bank account

Reply

Feb 2nd, 2006, 06:47 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 76
tour operator requesting transfer of money into their bank account

I am a little confused. We seem to have a outfitter for a Kenya/Tanzania safari and a gorilla safari who has put a provisional hold on all the accomodations we requested except for one that is waitlisted-Ngorongoro Serena. We need to charge the safari to our credit card for two reasons: miles and proof of payment. Yet this tour operator is asking for transfer of our money into their bank account for the 50% deposit. It sounds a little sketchy to me and I prefer not to do this. Is this normal? This tour operator is in Kenya, if that makes any difference. I would rather pay by credit card. Please help. Thank you very much.
KITTI0005 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:07 AM
  #2
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
With few exceptions, most in-country outfitters request cash payments by wire transfer.

As to a receipt you will receive one from your bank that you wired funds to said outfitter in Kenya. The outfitter should, upon receipt of payment send you an email confirming fund received.

Frequest Flyer miles - this is your trade-off. Note that every $5,000 in purchases when converted to miles is 5000 which values at about $100 towards the price of a FF award... not a lot in the scheme of things.

Another point to remember - with most all credit cards charging a fee as "foreign currency exchange" even if paying in USD, you're paying to a foreign country - you'll be hit with this fee. Mention was made on another board that this fee amounted to 3% of their total trip price. 3% of $5,000 is $150... there goes what you would have earned towards a FF award.

You have to decide whether the price for the safari is worth a few FF miles that don't always amount to much towards an award tickets.

You can use your credit card once in Kenya to pay lodge bills (though know many may charge a fee for this.), sourvinir shops and restaurants; and that "foreign currency exchange" fee.

Most here, just wire the funds.


 
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:27 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 33
50% is a little steep, unless the trip is within the next 30 days (where 100% is acceptable). 25% is more reasonable.

Also, while I wire transferred my payments, I was booking direct with a well-known, large safari lodge. Operators come and go, and if they are asking for that much, I maybe worried too.

Bank transfer reciepts are useless if they disappear, even more so if they are in Africa (if they were in your own country you may have more success recovering some of your cash).

CC billings can at least recover your money by going after the CC company.

Ask the operator for a CC option and rate (some surcharge 5%), and some CC have somewhat reasonable exchange rates when considering the amount you lose and the protection they offer.

I understand the miles thing too - especially if you are using it for an upgrade (where the point value is much higher).

I am sure that if you have the itinerary you should be able to find another operator that can help you and accept your CC.

IMHO of course
drehburg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:21 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,448
"Author: sandi With few exceptions, most in-country outfitters request cash payments by wire transfer. "

**This is quite right. I found this in trips to Africa and Asia**

Just try to work with someone that seems reputable.
waynehazle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:07 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
I agree with Sandi and Wayne.

I know it seems weird to wire all this money, and if you're really uncomfortable with it, you could try to find an operator that takes CCs. But if you've found a reputable operator and have checked references, you should be okay wiring the deposit. When I did it, I left the bank thinking "Well, there goes nothing." But it all worked out just fine.

Good luck!
Leely is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:16 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
Wire transfers are very normal, but you can ask the operator if they accept credit cards. Some do not and many that do will add a surcharge for doing so. If it's important that you pay with a credit card, it's always a good idea to inquire about this in your initial contact with the tour operator rather than making any assumptions about what types of payment they accept.
Patty is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:17 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
Wire transfers are very normal, but you can ask the operator if they accept credit cards. Some do not and many that do will add a surcharge for doing so. It's always a good idea to ask about payment terms in your initial contact with any tour operator to avoid surprises later.
Patty is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:19 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
Sorry for the double post!
Patty is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:43 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 33
Anybody else have to pony up 50% deposit?

Mine was 25% 30 days+, and the remaining 75% on 30 days.

As stated, if this is a reputable operator, then you will probably be just fine. If it is some back-of-the-newspaper guy you may want to inquire around if you are overly concerned about money safety.

However, it seems like the usual way. That said, Livingstone Lodge never charged any deposit and allowed me to pay by CC. Go figure.
drehburg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:50 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 794
I had to pay 30% with Roy Safaris up front. The balance to be paid with traveler's checks or cash on arrival, or another wire transfer 30 days before.

I, too, was very nervous about the wire transfer, but made to sure to also get travel insurance when I made the initial payment. That helped a little. Be aware that the banks charge a lot for a wire transfer. Bank of America charges $40 to do a wire transfer. I did the transfer with my brokerage account at TDWaterhouse, and they only charged $15.
lifelist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:56 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
I paid a 25% deposit but I think this varies as each tour operator sets their own payment schedule. I know there are operators that require more than 25% and others that require less. Just like some operators require the remaining balance to be paid 60 days prior to departure while others will accept the balance on arrival. That's why it's important to ask each operator specifically as there can be quite a bit of variance in payment/cancellation policies.
Patty is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:02 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 76
Ok, now I feel slightly better. However, I have not heard of this tour operator we selected, R&Nxploresafaris. Has anyone? We contacted over 11 tour operators and this one says she can get all of our accomodations, except one that is waitlisted. All you have to do to get your accomodation off a waitlist is pay up front. Then you will get it confirmed. The way we ended up with RNxploresafaris is that we emailed Rwanda Tourist Board, I think it is called, and we received several emails from different operators for gorilla safaris in Rwanda. We are planning to go on safari to Kenya/Tanzania/Rwanda in June/July and by now only Good Earth (which I have heard of) has availability in all but 2 accomodations. But they only require $100 per person to book until the last 2 months, I believe. Yes, 50% deposit seems a little high, but I will do that on a credit card if I could. I am not thrilled with the way they operate. I will see what I can maneuver with them. We can always do a cruise this year???
KITTI0005 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:03 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 4,222
drehburg, we ponied up 30% on booking and remainder in TCs on arrival. You can bet I was anxious carrying all those TCs (even though I know they're pretty safe) in my pocket crossing the Namanga border!

For our upcoming trip, one member of my party was extremely nervous about wiring money, so we ended up choosing an operator that takes CCs. Having done the wire transfer before, I wasn't as concerned, but of course it does come down to what one is comfortable with.
Leely is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:26 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 33
Leely,

Regarding the comfort level - that is what I sense being Kitti's issue. Now, I was fine with the transfer since the deposits were for Robin Pope based bookings, and I was not concerned about them.

Good idea lifelist about the cancellation insurance - although this may be free with some CCs.

Wiretransfers are expensive - $67CDN per for me (I had to do 3), so they may work out to be the same as an exchange rate loss on the CC.

Kitti, why not offer them the whole payment on CC? They get all the cash, you get all your points, and the whole thing is backed up with the CC company. Would hate to hear you cancelled a great Africa adv. for a cruise!

Of course, all IMHO
drehburg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:33 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,826
kitti,
I believe Wayne used R&N Xplorer in Rwanda - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34724552

Are you using R&N Xplorer for Rwanda and Good Earth for Kenya/Tanzania? I'm pretty sure that Good Earth accepts credit cards for the initial deposit. As for the Rwanda operator asking 50% up front, could this be because they need to prepay for your gorilla permits? I wouldn't be surprised if a tour operator required the full cost of permits at the time of booking.
Patty is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:47 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 148

Well this is one other reason that doing it yourself is just not the way to go for some people. If you were using a travel agent, the travel agent would be in between here, though you might have to pay the travel agent by check, the money would go into some sort of escrow or protected account in the US. (At least it does with my travel agent) and the TA would take care of the operator.

Credit cards just not accepted in much of Africa. The charges on them are high (for the operator--probably another 3% that gets lopped off their payment.

When dealing direct, I've always had to wire funds (but always to trusted operators), but if you don't trust the operator with your wire transfer, you probably shouldn't trust them with your whole vacation.

Regarding proof: a wire transfer into their account is just as solid as a credit card bill. Your bank will always be able to verify this, even if you lose the first confirmation. It's not like this history disappears! And remember, if you wire money, you have all their bank account information!

I doubt they will take your credit card (if they have already said no)-- and I doubt they will be willing to set up a merchant account just for you! So you may have to find a travel agent who will handle the trip for you if you really, really don't want to do the bank wire. This is one area where I think this board does people a bit of a disservice: yes, you can do things yourself, yes you may save some of the TA commissions, BUT you will have to do things that you may not be comfortable with, with no assistance and fewer protections than you would have working with a travel agent.
ddgattina is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:33 PM
  #17
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
On our very first trip to Africa our tour operator/travel agent in the US, only accepted cash payment. Feeling unsure, as you are, I contacted my own travel agent for handle this. I already had the price so no worry that a TA commission would be added on top. I did all the contact with the tour operator, all my TA had to do was accept my credit card as payment and then send an "agency check" to the tour operator.

Sounds great, yes! Not really, in that because the tour operator only accepted cash, the TA had to add their percentage for my credit card usage (normally the use of CC by a TA is included in the prices they ask for payment... nobody does this for free). It wasn't much, believe 3%, but that added to the cost of the trip. And, of course, I too was concerned about getting those FF miles.

Though my TA did get a commission off the price I paid for the trip - see, it's already built in - it really wasn't worth the trouble; though pleased for my TA, she also got another 3% from my using the CC.

The following year, while the TO enjoyed working with my TA, and still only accepting cash as payment, offered me a 10% reduction on cost of my trip if I didn't use the TA. It didn't take me too long to make that decision... I went direct with the TO and paid cash. The heck with the FF miles, it wasn't worth it.

But I was dealing with a reputable TO and had no worry they'd go belly-up. I did, buy trip cancellation/interruption insurance to cover any unforseen circumstance.

So, as mentioned above, if you use your CC for a foreign country purchase, your credit card company will probably charge you that "foreign currency exchange" fee.

Many of us have wired funds and haven't had any problems in doing so. But, 50%, seems high. And, if you're not comfortable with the TO to begin with, consider another... though time is getting late for June accommodations.
 
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:41 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 76
In reading Wayne's report as suggested, yes, he did use R&Nxplorer. Yes, I feel a bit better. I will do as suggested and offer to pay the entire bill by cc and see what happens. I did state in my email to them this morning that I must use my cc. Have not heard anything yet. R&N was willing to knock off SRS in traveling with 3 people for the gorilla portion and I tried to get a discount here and there. It seemed to work, so maybe this offer will as well. The gorilla permits are a tiny portion of the total bill, ($375 each times 3 people, times 2 days) so I know it is not completely the cost of the permits. Just the safari trips for 3 people in Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania will cost us $16,000, a pretty penny. Thank you all for such a quick response. I have been checking this site on and off all day for responses. I was a bit nervous, but now I am prepared to deal with them. I never thought of paying by check or wiring money to any operator. The thought never entered my mind. There is so much to do with this trip, I just never gave it a thought. We had been to a lot of international countries and never had to deal with anything other than a cc. So now we know. Thank you all.
KITTI0005 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 12:44 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 618
hi kitt, melinda takes credit cards.
i also for the first time wired money to greatlakes in june.half, then the other half on arrival.but melinda takes the cards.
cheers, d
tuskerdave is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 2nd, 2006, 04:49 PM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 76
tuskerdave,nice to see you respond to my message. does melinda charge you a fee for the use of the cc? Half down and half later too. Ok, feeling better. I will try to force the cc issue. thanks. take care.
KITTI0005 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:40 AM.