Grand Circle Travel Booted Out of BBB

Oct 26th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Grand Circle Travel Booted Out of BBB

Grand Circle Travel has been bounced out of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Massachusetts, Maine & Vermont because of a slew of complaints regards the company's cancellation policy - first the BBB gave the company an "unsatifactory rating" and later in Oct 2005 outright terminated their membership and has yet to reinstate it. The action was based on 57 complaints the BBB received in 2004 complaining about "credit or billing" "refund or exchange" or "customer service" issues.

The problem stemmed from GCT's Cancellation Policy where if they altered a trip you were not entitled to a full refund or the option to cancel. Customers apparently were not kept informed of changes made in itineraries till days before departure and in some case such changes were made during the trip.

To GCT's credit they are trying to resolve the problem but as yet the BBB is taking a wait and see attitude.

Caveat Emptor!

(above info comes from TravelWeekly magazine, an in-house rag for Travel Agents (10-23-06);
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 10:26 AM
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Samting- i hope you don't mind my copying your comment here! Others could benefit from your problem perhaps.

Author: samting
Date: 10/26/2006, 01:18 pm
As someone who has personally had big trouble with GCT, I would not recomend them. But if you go, put it on your Visa or AMEX. They try to discourage you from doing so, with tempting discounts, et., but when things go wrong, you have some discourse. We disputed and challenged their charges and business practices, and were refunded to our credit card account.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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I'm not sure why you are posting this now with this head. There are several other threads on these forums that discuss in more concrete terms problems people have had with GCT (or praise for the company).

This isn't new information because the de-listing happened a year ago, but by focusing on the BBB de-listing Grand Circle, you sort of miss the point of the article, which discussed the policy changes that the company has now made so they can rejoin the BBB.

GCT and OAT have both detractors and fans, but the far larger portion of clients rate their trips very highly. Having taken an Overseas Adventure Travel trip, my opinion is that the company offers a superior product at very favorable rates, at least in Egypt.
doug_stallings is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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This is old news that just keeps coming back like a bad...whatever.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 11:42 AM
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Why stir the pot and re-start all the ugliness of a few months ago???

OLD news . . . . . .
janisj is online now  
Jan 5th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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Whenever you post anything on GCT think of how many people travel with them every year (was it 155000 vs. 50 something complaints to BBB?) and above all the prices you pay for EXCELLENT quality tours (most of them at least).
How many other companies sell their tours with air fee included?
Of course I can understand and relate to people having problems with GCT customer service. But I just hope more and more satisfied travelers will appear in Fodor's.
sorry to have posted the reply so late
torbiele is offline  
Jan 5th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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seems like the company has gone out of their way to solve the problems and i would not hesitate to recommend them for the good value they are as now their customer service should be better than others not under the scrutiny.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Jan 5th, 2007, 11:59 AM
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Grand Circle's problems are hardly old news. The Washington Post ran a column on them last fall and there continue to be reports of trip problems. In fairness to all, I think when you are considering spending nearly $10K to go to Egypt, e.g., you need to feel reasonably sure you are dealing with those who will watch your back. I did not consider the posts malicious, merely informative. I booked with STI after reading up on GCT.
mamaclark is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 08:41 PM
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We have only had excellent experiences with both Grand Circle Travel and Overseas Adventure Travel. Great value for the money and fantastic tour directors. We are definitely fans and plan to travel with them again.
sandys is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 09:26 PM
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I doubt that anyone would need to spend $10,000 on a GCT tour to Egypt. Judging from the latest catalogue I have, the price is considerably lower.

Sometimes I wonder just how much the flap about GCT is related to the issue of "you get what you pay for." I suspect some of the unhappy posters expected a luxury trip for budget prices.
Underhill is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 01:02 PM
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We had considered a trip with GCT at one time and we did some preliminary research and decided our money would be far better spent elsewhere. There is a flood of complaints among all the praise that deserves to be considered. Here is one re insurance issues that one traveler experienced:
"I took a tour with Grand Circle to China and was injured on the trip. I had purchased Trip Mate Insurance throught GCT. Trip Mate managed to manipulate and exclude many of the charges and I was left with many unpaid bills. Even with letters from my doctors regarding the necessity for such treatment and that this was not a preexisting condition. I wrote to GCT but was advised they have no control over the insurance carrier. Then they should not use a company that is not creditable. I will not use GCT again if they don't have creditable insurers (GCT collects the money for the insurers) or other options. I was advised I could get my own insurance if I was not satisfied. Well, I am not satisfied with the insurer and with the attitude of GCT about the problem."
Much of the criticism of GCT has involved shabby business practices and lack of response to problems. I hear from many folks that when the trips go well, they are well pleased, but one should, especially if elderly, be reasonably assured that if something untoward comes up, they will be handled.
Jan 18th, 2007, 01:26 PM
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I will again recommend GCT based on our four tours by my wife and myself...Greece, Italy, Scandanavia, Eastern Europe. Well run, economical, educational. While some have indeed indicated certain problems (and I think overly so) others of us have had positive experiences.

[email protected]
Ozarksbill is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 04:06 PM
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We have taken six trips with Grand Circle, and two additional times had to cancel for medical reasons. In both cases, we received prompt refunds with reasonable documentation from Trip Mate. Granted, we have not had to make a claim based on illness or injury on a trip, but we have been very satisfied with the coverage.

Also, I have to support Underhill in questioning the $10,000 price for the Egypt trip. Depending on departure city, deck and date, the price is between about $4000 and $6500 for two.

The only way that the price could be that high would be if business class flights were reserved.

We have found Grand Circle to be outstanding for price/performance. That is why we chose them in the first place and continue to travel with them.

Jack and Ann
jackandann is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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Beware travelling with GCT/OAT. I am just back from their "Route of the Maya" tour with pre- and post-trips.

On the pre-trip to Panama, I went swimming under a waterfall and apparently swallowed some of the water. The next day I had diarhhea from 10AM till 3PM. I took Immodium at 10 & 11 to no avail, and an antibiotic just before we left for our tour of the Canal around Noon. Because of the wait to get tickets and for security, I had a small accident at the Canal. I rinsed out my shorts in the bathroom and stuffed them with paper towels to keep dry. But the tour director was immediately on the horn to "Regional" (Guatemala City) who, without speaking to me at all, decided -- on the 4th day of my trip -- I was going home. They sent a car to take me to the hotel (without seeing the Canal) and told me that because I "couldn't fly" (to San Salvador the next day), I had to go home. What -- were they going to put me on a bus up the Pan American Highway??? I told them they were making a mountain out of a molehill and that I was going NOWHERE! I refused to get in the car and they sent it back. They had no choice but to take me on the rest of the bus tour, during which there were no incidents. I flew to San Salvador (and a new tour director) the next day.

Unfortunately, on the 2nd day of the main trip, I came down with a cold. My nose was stuffed and I had to breathe through my mouth. When I asked to stop at a pharmacy for aspirin, the new tour director went ape. WHAT was wrong? WHAT medicine was I buying? I told him it was a cold and he kept saying it was the flu. Another nosy passenger with absolutely no credentials panicked and told him I MUST go to a hospital! Again "Regional" (Guatemala City) was called and, again, I was ordered home. I, again, told them I was going NOWHERE! The busybody then got me kicked out of my room and all the bedding changed; I was then given the busybody's room and never heard the end of it. My former roommate wasn't even given a chance to utter her preference. The next morning my "next of kin" was called and told I was "seriously ill." Worried and not knowing what else to do, he gave out my entire medical history to the tour director -- who repeated it to the passengers on the bus while I skipped a visit to a school! Do you believe the unprofessional, unethical conduct? The tour guide told everyone I was on "dangerous medication" (a lie) and changed my seat on the bus -- again moving the busybody, who complained for the rest of the trip.

Now, the clincher: I just got a phone call from a "manager" that becausse of the problems *I* caused on the trip, I was no longer welcome to travel with the company!! If the tour directors had used their brains and not listened to a panicky nobody -- and maybe talked to ME -- all this could have been avoided. But, no, it is all MY fault.

The Guatamala City regional office is in need of serious re-training, and the whole staff taught ethics and discretion. Fortunately, I was able to get an e-mail off to my "next of kin" and assure him it was just a cold. I was fine in 2-3 days. NO ONE should be put through this kind of cruelty. Of course, other people were disrupted by the unwarranted attention to my insignificant ailments -- and they complained to the company about it; but *I* did not cause anyone's disruption -- the incompetent, misguided tour directors did! And I have been blamed for it and punished for it....

Next time, for no fault of your own, this could be you! Do you really want to risk travelling with such a totalitarian company???

(BTW, I not only finished by complete tour with OAT without incident, but stayed another week in Belize on my own with much pleasure and compliments on my courage.)
turtle1peg is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 08:15 PM
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Re the 10K -- should have been more specific. It would cost us $8K, and that included an extension in Jordan. I was referring to how much we intended to spend on our vacation. Hope that clarifies that point. My ONLY point was that these vacations cost a lot of money, give or take a couple of thousand, and one must feel confident that they have made wise choices. To all, thanks for your input! We leave May 15 and cannot wait to report on our adventures.
mamaclark is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 04:33 PM
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Mamaclark, I hope you'll report on your trip with OAT to Egypt and Jordan. This trip is on my list also. I'm a big fan of OAT and have loved every trip we've done with them - great value, excellent guides, and interesting insights into the lives of the natives.
PIPERPAT is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 04:41 PM
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Wow, I didn't see this post before. 57 complaints to BBB is A LOT! Just to think how bad it was, to make people to file with BBB! And how many others don't know about BBB, don't use computers (is GCT for over 50?) or simply gave up or didn't bother.
FainaAgain is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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57 complaints is a lot?! what about the hundreds, if not thousands, of happy, satisfied clients of GCT?
teacher33 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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no, 57 complaints is not a lot when you consider the thousands of travelers. This old post keeps coming back to the top. As most tour companies do - GCT reserves the right to make itinerary changes. Last year there was one poster (not the OP of this thread) who had an obsession about GCT and came back over and over to complain about a cruise that was ruined due to the flooding in central Europe.

If even just 1/2 of the people on that one cruise complained "officially" that would be more than 57.
janisj is online now  
Apr 6th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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I often wonder how many complaints large companies like Globus and Trafalgar get. They're headquartered in Europe so how would we know? I've heard at least one person find something to complain about on practically every trip I've been on, and I thought some of their complaints were really nit-picking (like there's no yogurt for breakfast or there's no washcloth or I want to sit on a certain seat of the bus every day). As I've said before, we've been extremely happy with OAT.
PIPERPAT is offline  

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