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Horrible Tapestry Travel, Inc.

Old Apr 6th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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Horrible Tapestry Travel, Inc.

Just a warning to anyone tempted to have this company plan or direct any part of their time in Scotland, the Middle East, or Europe--DON'T. Sure, they advertise "the fine art of personalized travel" and boast of ample qualifications and unique connections. I found out about this Irving, Texas-based company from a neighbor.

Against my better judgement as a self-planner I joined one of their tours for Tuscany because having ever only been to Umbria I wanted my mother and husband's first trip to Italy to be very special. The premise of having someone with local connections and more extensive experience organize and plan everything for maximum enjoyment with minimum worries seemed to justify the cost.

After arrival we found that our lodging was changed and we were to be lumped together. The "fully furnished authentic Tuscan apartments" were anything but and woefully worn-out, the food was exactly the same cheap, poor ingredients at every meal and the wines no better. We actually LOST five pounds each during that week. Yep bad food every day in Italy--who'd have thought it possible, especially at that price.

Daytrips were without exception needlessly rushed and chaotic (because though the group was always punctual, our professional director and president of this company was chronically and unapolagetically tardy for everything) and without adequate time to ever get any feel for what made any individual towns special. Most irresponsible of all was the complete lack or professionalism or regard for the safety, health or well-being of the very people who'd entrusted them with their time and money. We were left to fend for ourselves and help each other out as best we could. Simply unexcusable. Things like screaming at elderly members to run across streets during Florentine rush hour traffic so we can make our reservation time (late again because of our director) and then criticizing and complaining about members who dare to politely voice legitimate concerns...just unbelieveable. If we hadn't lived it I wouldn't believe it possible.

There were so many low points, but the worst was the aftermath of the advertised "Wine Tasting in Chianti at Noble Farm with Meal Cooked in 200-year-old Oven". In actuality this was a meal of the same liver paste on toast followed by dry pork roll and tired boxed pasta that we would have at every meal, with the variety of one bottle of red AND a bottle of white plunked on the table without so much as any explanation. This was followed by a romp through the livestock pens. No explanation ever given for the sudden change of itinerary, which ate hours out of available time in San Gimignano, or further mention of it until the final day when she dumped us at the train station several hours before our actual departure (in order to get rid of the group and have the day free for herself), when she pointedly said she was not ADVISING us, but when U.S. Customs asks if we've been on a farm or handled livestock, "it is up to you to decide if you actually had that experience" because if you decide you have, they will probably impound all your posessions because the risk of mad cow disease. Some professional guidance, huh?

The rest of the trip, which I'd planned myself with the help of Fodorites (thank you!) was wonderful in every regard despite unseasonably cold weather. I'll never risk another tour and along with every other member of that group would never recommend this company to anyone I know. Apparently past tours were not this horrible, but she made changes in the company that have dramatically reduced the quality of product and services.

Buyer beware.
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 11:58 AM
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Thanks for the heads up, C.
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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Sorry about your awful experience. I hope you are making this info available to a far wider circle of people than just fodorites. It sounds like you were defrauded and abused and someone who can do something about it needs to know.
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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My goodness!

"This was followed by a romp through the livestock pens. No explanation"

Your writing style did make me smile, hopefully you will be able to smile about it later? Maybe after you have been refunded your money?

Sorry this happened but thanks for posting.
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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Oh my goodness, she could and should have prevented that whole stupid livestock thing. I recall thinking, "Like we don't know what a cow is in Texas?"

I can't laugh yet because we still can't stand the sight of pork and it put my husband off the desire to go back and see more-beautiful-and-unspoiled Umbria. But I am now a confirmed and confident plan-it-yourselfer.

I don't expect restitution because of the fine print of the contract, which stipulates she's not responsible for any delays (which I took to be due to airlines, traffic, etc. and not her tardy, selfish self) and that you further idemnify her against any and all claims arising from death, injury, loss, damage, accident, discomfort or expense to person or property as well as allowing her the right to cancel the tour or remainder, make alterations in route, accommodation, price and/or details AND they are not resopnsible for my well-being. And to top it off, if you make a fuss and she determines you are "offensive" she can terminiate your travel at any time without refund.

We took all this for standard boilerplate stuff. No one could have possibly foreseen a debacle of this magnitude or known at the time she'd already kicked out the conscientious, thoughtful partner that did all the planning and organization. You figure your agent/director has a vested interest in making sure things are done safely and smoothly, treating the paying clientele with respect and courtesy, notifying them in a timely fashion when things need to change and when expecting them to fund and find their own way into and out of a godforsaken village, at least providing all with train schedules and contact numbers for drivers.

I did send her a letter of complaint for the sole purpose of making me feel better: it nearly killed me many times to keep my mouth shut during that week, especially after the screaming at the old folks, and only the fear of making things worse while we were in her power stopped me. It was obvious she didn't care and was glad to make things difficult for anyone who dared speak up.

I would be content if nobody else ever had a similar experience.
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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I would wonder about any firm named Horrible Tapestry Travel, Inc. Kind of a warning, isn't it?

Anselm
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Is the one, Cupid?

http://www.tapestry-travel.com/

They don't even have any tour itinerary posted! Maybe I Googled the wrong tapestry?
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 02:19 PM
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Anselm, I hope you were kidding, but one never knows here.
It's called Tapestry Travel. "Horrible" was an adjective cupid used to describe it.
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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I had a good experience with "Miserable Bus Stations In The Rain, Ltd" in Northern England once. Exactly as promised!
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 04:07 PM
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Just a few of the reasons not to take a guided tour.

Granted - this one sounds way worse than most - but the poor food, rushing though sights and lack of organization seems to be common to almost all of them (except the really upscale ones like Tauck - and even then you're still on THEIR schedule, not yours).
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 04:29 PM
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Was the travel horrible or does this adjective modify the agency's tapestry?

Sorry, cupid1, but seaurchin is right, the phrase 'romp through the livestock pens' does suggest you have a sense of humour. Meanwhile, I am sorry that the tapestry unraveled, so to speak. It sounds like what happened when the proprietors of a favourite restaurant of mine divorced. One of them wished to continue the business. Unhappily, this person turned out not to be the chef half of the couple, as we discovered to our cost.

Cheer up, it could have been worse. The results can barely be imagined had you engaged a firm of this calibre to remove your appendix, say, or give one of your party a face-lift....
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 04:43 PM
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At first the post title reminded me of bad draperies... "Horrible Tapestry".

Then, like others I wondered why anyone would choose to travel with such a company.
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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 07:25 AM
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My apologies to all for the confusion. FatinaAgain's link is correct and refers to the correct organization. And no, there aren't any itineraries on the site because all are privately arranged.

My very first trip to Italy was a tour arranged by a friend who is NOT a professional: he and his wife simply enjoy sharing what they love about Italy with very small groups of people. I was a last-minute addition after someone pulled out for an emergency. (They kindly offered the space to me at no cost beacuse I'd helped fix his back.) It was a very relaxed and thoroughly wonderful experience and if they were still doing Italy I'd have used them. I foolishly, yes laugh, expected something along the same line for this experience because so many aspects were similar... ho ho ho.

The situaion Stacy describes is exactly what is happening here. The Better Half is a very decent and upright person, horrified at what happened but unfortunately not the one in control.

Sorry the post heading isn't very good. Someone more clever is welcome to make a better one and link this, if desired.

Thanks for the laughs!
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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 07:56 AM
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No need to apologize for the heading. I had fun picturing a tour of the sites of horrible tapestries throughout Europe.
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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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cupid, I'm the one who should apologize, but the title just struck me as so funny.

Anselm
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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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Anselm, your post made me laugh too, very clever. Not that I am laughing at your expense, cupid.

I have been on crazy day tours myself, put on by locals who were so inept that, later, we laugh when retelling the mishaps. (Your guide seemed to go over the line with yelling at the people to cross the street, that's not funny).

I had one day tour guide in France go completely beserk with screaming at us. She had to be stopped so we intervened as a group, I think she was ready to start pushing us off a bridge. Now that is one incident we do laugh at still, but because of her surprise when we revolted!!

It was a interesting sight, tourists in floppy hats and bermuda shorts with tennies and bobby socks tussling with a umbrella wielding guide in heels.
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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 08:26 AM
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cupid1~ actually it is a GREAT title. very clever as it turns out
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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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HI C,

You might want to write to the Ombudsman at Conde' Nast Traveler.

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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 08:36 AM
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you could always write to the travel ambassador in NG Travel... not that you could do anything about it, but if he does decide to take it up, it might be a wake up call for the woman, and even if the fine print is clearly stated and nothing you can do about it - it's published in a magazine that is national and even international. - bad publicity for her.
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Old Apr 7th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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Cupid,

I'd pursue a refund and threaten to sue under the Texas Deceptive Trade and Practices Act ("DTPA") - a consumer protection act. You have to first send a demand letter citing the ways that they have violated the act (which, by the way, they cannot waive no matter how many things you signed). The great thing about the DTPA is that you can sue for treble damages (3 times the amount of your loss). If you'd like a sample DTPA letter, e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll forward one to you. BTW, I'm not an attorney, but I play one in real life.

Michaela
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