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Rant about Cape May (NJ) Whale Watcher

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Jun 28th, 2014, 10:33 AM
  #1
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Rant about Cape May (NJ) Whale Watcher

To start: I strongly recommend against taking the Cape May (NJ) Whale Watcher. Here's the background, being as brief as possible.

My DIL used Groupon to purchase six tickets for the Whale Watcher. Groupon listed a 1:00 tour for 2 hours. Under Groupon's rules (and I'm no expert), you have to then call the merchant and confirm with them. (BTW, Groupon made a mistake with their listing; we'll take that up with them separately.)

Separately, my DIL and I called the company. We each got what appeared to be the same person who answered the phone. Separately, she told each of us, "You're confirmed for a 1:00 tour for two hours." We both remarked that she seemed distracted and not focused, but we figured, hey, she confirmed us, right? (The two-hour time frame was important because of other plans we had after the tour.)

When we got there, an older woman was staffing the ticket booth and taking confirmation phone calls, and she told us that the 1:00 tour was for three hours, and that we would have to pay $10 extra per person for it. We explained what happened with the phone confirmation, and she was adamant that the conversations with the younger woman ("my daughter") never happened.

I said, "Look, I can see how trying to sell tickets and taking calls at the same time could cause someone to make a mistake." Her answer: "We NEVER make mistakes." Oh.

I said, "Do you think we concocted this whole story so that we could show up here from out of town and cheat you out of $10/per person?" Her answer: "That's exactly what I think." She went on to say that her family had been operating the tour for 25 years and had "never" made a mistake.

That was it. No compromise. No offer of another tour. Take it or leave it. We had two little kids with us who had been promised the tour, so we paid the extra $10 and rearranged our plans to account for the extra hour. I'll be contesting the charge with my CC company.

BTW, it's been years since I've taken a WW tour, but some companies used to give you credit toward another tour if you saw no whales. This one doesn't. We saw no whales and received no offers.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 02:32 PM
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All I can say is I have terrible luck with Groupons! Uggh.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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Never used them before. May never use them again.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 04:12 PM
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I did a whale & dolphin watching tour through Groupon two years ago but a different company. I had no issues. I think if you declined, you could walk away and get your money back from Groupon. I swore I read that on their website but never had to take them up on it. It's a shame you had to put up with that however, after going to Cape May for 30 some years in the summer, I have yet to see a whale. There are no guarantees you will ever see a whale but lots of dolphins. According to the company website it says dolphin and whale watching so sorry, I don't get the refund part if you did see dolphins.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 04:19 PM
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Groupon lists a 2 hour tour at 10 am @ $15.

It also lists a 3 hour tour at 1 pm @ $25.

Both of those offers link to the WW website. Perhaps Groupon's site got changed after your unfortunate experience. But it doesn't appear that there ever is a 2 hour trip at 1pm.

Both Groupon and the WW site say that you get a voucher for another excision if you don't see any whales, dolphins or porpoises. Guess you had to ask.

More unfortunate that you and your DIL both got bum information when you called to confirm. Too bad the owner was so unpleasant and stubborn about it. But some of the confusion might have been avoided if you or your DIL had a taken a look at the WW website ahead of time.
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Jun 28th, 2014, 11:31 PM
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For the price, this sounds more like a wildlife tour than a specific WW tour.

We have taken specific tours all over the world, most have been well over $100, one in Vancouver was much more expensive. These tours usually use very expensive boats, support networks and longer timings. The whale shark operation in Australia used spotter planes. The fuel used on some of the boats would amount to well over $10 alone.

In the end you get what you pay for and in some cases we have travelled 8,000 miles and so wanted a positive experience.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 04:22 AM
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>>Both of those offers link to the WW website. Perhaps Groupon's site got changed after your unfortunate experience. But it doesn't appear that there ever is a 2 hour trip at 1pm.<<

I think that's what happened after DIL called Groupon. You know, I'm not so angry about the mixup -- things like that happen -- but the fact that the company confirmed 1:00 for two hours (twice) and then just refused to acknowledge the mistake was annoying. I was perfectly willing to come to some sort of compromise, essentially saying, "OK, there was a screw-up somewhere, maybe even partly with us, so let's work it out."

>>Both Groupon and the WW site say that you get a voucher for another excision if you don't see any whales, dolphins or porpoises. Guess you had to ask.<<

We saw dolphins. And that wasn't my real complaint. I was just alerting others to the fact that you won't get any compensation from this company if you don't see whales. Not a complaint; just a fact.

>> But some of the confusion might have been avoided if you or your DIL had a taken a look at the WW website ahead of time.<<

Maybe. But calling the company and getting confirmation on time and length of tour doesn't suffice?
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Jun 29th, 2014, 06:36 AM
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I'm sorry this happened to you, vincenzo32951, it must have been frustrating.

What else did you do while you were there? I was in Cape May last week.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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Not too much. We had two little kids in the group, so we did some boardwalk-walking and amusement stuff in Wildwood, and fireworks on Friday night -- not stuff I'd normally do, but it's OK once in a great while. We were staying at a friend's house that's maybe 50 yards from the beach, and that led us to spend a lot of beach time.

Story that gets more amusing as time passes: I made a run to the liquor store. Bought maybe three bottles of wine and some beer. The clerk placed some paper bags on the wet counter and put the wine in the bags. I casually remarked that the bags were wet, and she said, "Oh, don't worry, these bags are really strong."

As I was getting into my vehicle in the parking lot, holding the bags by the top, I heard a loud crash and felt my feet get wet. All three bottles had broken through the bottom of the bags and smashed.

Yes, she gave me free replacements. And dry bags.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 10:52 AM
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But calling the company and getting confirmation on time and length of tour doesn't suffice?

Apparently not in this case.

Whenever I'm considering purchasing something from a third party site like Groupon or Expedia, I look at the source to see if they're offering the same deal -- and much of the time they are in which case I'd just as soon purchase from the actual business. It's hindsight in your situation, but had either you or your DIL spent 2 minutes at the Cape May WW site, you'd have gleaned that the 1pm tour was three not two hours and that it cost more than you paid for your tickets. And that it was a whale and dolphin tour, not just whales. Your call to confirm might have been a call to clarify and confirm.

That said, the owner was a jerk for being so recalcitrant and not just upgrading at you at no cost to the more expensive tour.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 05:08 PM
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>>It's hindsight in your situation, but had either you or your DIL spent 2 minutes at the Cape May WW site, you'd have gleaned that the 1pm tour was three not two hours and that it cost more than you paid for your tickets.<<

I'm going to take the high road and assume you think you're being helpful and telling me something I don't know.

>>And that it was a whale and dolphin tour, not just whales. Your call to confirm might have been a call to clarify and confirm.<<

For the third time, I had no complaint about that. I was alerting others to that fact.
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