Who has never had issues with travel agencies (or day trip providers)? During my worldwide trips, I had problems with many of them. I’ll give you some examples.
- In Krakow, the tour guide passed by my hotel and didn’t pick me up (probably he didn’t find me), although I was in the lobby well before the scheduled time.
- In Beijing, we took unwillingly a ‘sponsored tour’, which, besides taking us to the Great Wall, which was our main intent, took us to several stores with very pushy vendors. After visiting the main attractions and bothered with so many undesired stops, we ended up running away from the guide and returning to the hotel on our own.
- In Huaraz (Peru), the route taken by the tour was quite different from the one described in the prospectus. Later after our complaining, the agency gave us a refund.
The worst experience happened in Malta
However, my worst tour experience ever took place recently in Malta with a company called Supreme Powerboats. Here I am going to share with you my story so that you don’t have the same unpleasant experience if you ever go to Malta.
Booking the tour
The company counter is next to Sliema Ferry port, from where the ferry to Valletta departs.
It was late afternoon. Before taking the ferry, we booked a tour to the Blue Lagoon, which is a very famous (and crowded) attraction located on Comino Island in Malta. The tour was scheduled for another day.
The price was 45 euros per person (see company website), but if we hired the tour on the spot, the seller would have 15 Euros off.
Then we decided to pay 30 euros for the speedboat tour. With speedboats the journey from Sliema to Comino Island in 20 minutes. With traditional boats (offered by other companies), the trip to the Island usually takes 1h30m, but costs half the price (15 Euros).
The salesperson called someone on a cell phone and the tour was confirmed for 9:30 am for two days ahead.
I paid by credit card a tour for 4 people, totaling 120 Euros. I got a receipt and the seller asked our phone number to contact us if there were any changes. I wrote down two phone numbers on the sales receipt.
On the day of the tour
On the scheduled day, my wife realized she had lost the tour receipt. She should have thrown it in the trash along with other papers that we accumulate during the trip.
However, we believe this wouldn’t cause any problem, as our name and phone number were written on the sales receipt. In addition, it’s normal for agencies to have a list of who is going to take the tour. Some agencies ask for a voucher and others don’t.
We arrived at the counter early trying to solve this issue. We exposed the situation to the employee who was at the counter. The guy with whom we bought the tour wasn’t there at the time.
From the beginning, they were very rude and without any consideration. I noticed, right away, that the fact of having lost the receipt could be used as an excuse for not letting us board and, furthermore, saying that it was our fault. Sure enough!
They left us waiting for several minutes while attending to other customers.
I asked one of the employees to solve my problem. He looked at me very angry and did nothing. We were waiting for so long time and none of them even tried to look for our reservation in the receipts.
After a while, another employee arrived and said that he could only take us onboard if we paid an additional fee of 20 Euros per person. It was a type of extortion: we either agreed to pay what he demanded, or we wouldn’t take the tour.
Immediately, I didn’t accept the ‘proposal’ and showed him the credit card payment receipt on my cell phone.
Again, no effort to solve the issue. Neither did they check the receipts, nor did they consider the payment receipt for the card. Nothing!
Whenever we tried to argue with him, he asked: ‘What did you not understand?’
And the situation escalated. We said that we would report the case on Tripadvisor. On the other hand, they said it was our fault!
My friend started shooting the scene with her cell phone.
Then the guy said: ‘are you filming me? Delete it right now!’
We said we wouldn’t erase it. Then he threatened to call the police.
And he supposedly called a police officer but unsuccessfully.
At this time, there were different opinions in our group on what to do next. Some felt we should wait for the police and tell them the situation. Others thought we should not, like me. After all, the officer could actually be a bad-tempered cop colluded with the employee. We never know!
Then we went out. Leaving the scene, the guy still came after us and even threatened to break my friend’s cell phone. I clearly heard him saying: ‘crash your cell phone’.
All things considered, my view of this travel agency couldn’t be worse. Rude and violent employees unwilling to solve customer’s problems, to say the least.
Some reviews that I later found on Tripadvisor confirm my view. In fact, 8 of them consider the experience with Supreme Powerboats Terrible. Check out some reports!
What I can recommend is that, if you ever visit Malta, avoid Supreme Powerboats Malta at all costs and be sure to read the your travel agency’s reviews before hiring a tour.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the money back, but, I think I fulfilled my duty by reporting this experience to the blog readers. Of course, the experience could have been much worse …
And what about the Blue Lagoon?
To enjoy the day, we ended up hiring a tour to the Blue Lagoon with another agency. But this time we took a big boat. Although the lagoon is very beautiful with crystal clear waters, it’s very very crowded. There wasn’t even space to put our personal stuff. It was a hard day. But I’ll tell you more in another post …