Gray Line - Poor/Non/Unsafe Service

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The following complaints have been lodged and reviews posted.

SCL Airport to Santiago Hotel Transport

The pick up was spooky to say the least. Other than knowing our names the reps from Grayline had no paperwork to identify themselves or what they were hired to do. They also did not wear a uniform or name tag and picked us up in a standard size personal car, not a company vehicle or a vehicle with a company logo. But the guide did have the Grayline survey form.

They were to transport us from the airport to our hotel. The driver spoke no English so he was accompanied by an interpreter who spoke a smidgen of English. When I say a smidgen, I mean just that. We quickly figured out not to ask questions or attempt to confirm any information; and just let the your man who spoke a smidgen of English tell us how he was going to school to learn to be a tour guide and was due to graduate in May.

Grayline appeared to give no consideration to our safety or well-being. No vouchers were asked for from us.

Chilean Dinner Dance Show

The driver showed up, on schedule but again, without any documentation, uniform, name tag or vehicle markings. He did have the Grayline customer survey form so we considered that a good sign. The evening of the day we arrived we were to go to a Chilean dinner show. It turned out to be a Polynesian restaurant, we were served basically an American meal and the entertainment was pretty much Brazilian and Polynesian. If there was anything Chilean about the evening we missed it.

The driver did speak some broken English so was able to point out some areas in which we were driving. However, for every place we went, he emphasized “This is where I live”.

Grayline appears to give little consideration to our safety or well-being. No vouchers were requested from us.

Coastal Vina del Mar and Historical Valparaiso

This was to be a tour through the Chilean countryside and Vina del Mar, to have a Chilean lunch, tour Valparaiso and then be delivered to our hotel in Valparaiso. We had asked the Grayline tour guide Raphael (tour guide from Grayline Santiago City Tour – booked through hotel, see comments below) to confirm that we would be picked up at our hotel and what time. He did call and confirmed we would be met t 9:10 the next morning at the hotel. That next morning at 9:05, Raphael showed up and said he was our tour guide for the day. Again, he had no paperwork, no name tag, wore no uniform and the van, which had several people on it, had no Grayline identification.

Raphael spoke mostly in Spanish which coincidentally, also happened to be what most of the other passengers were. When he remembered we were on board and he could not think of how to refer to things in English, he would ask the others for help.

We had prepaid for lunch which seemed to upset everyone because neither the guide nor restaurant knew what to do with us. No one else in the group had prepaid and apparently no one typically did when with Raphael or at the restaurant. After numerous phones call with I have no idea whom, and meetings with the restaurant personnel, and a loss of about 30-40 minutes while the other passengers waited to learn what was going on, the, I think, restaurant manager finally agreed to feed us. He told us to order whatever we wanted.

However, when the waiter came to take our order, we were informed that we could choose from two starters, two entrees, and two desserts. It turns out the items we were allowed to choose from were the least expensive on the menu, costing about $18. We paid for two luncheons at $42 each. The food was poorly cooked, we were served the wrong foods and it was delivered cold when it should have been hot. They had to redo the food twice and then demanded we pay for our drinks. Oh, and no one at the restaurant spoke an iota of English.

While we were eating a gentleman approached us and identified himself as our guide from Grayline, duh! He wanted to know why we were with a guide that did not work for Grayline! As it turns out, Raphael and his driver were poaching Grayline clients. We also learned that the true Grayline driver called the hotel, confirmed he would pick us up, and left his name and number. We never got that message at the hotel.

Raphael was recommended by our Santiago hotel desk clerk at the Hotel Diego de Almagro Santiago Centro. Raphael agreed and confirmed he would complete the agreed tour.

When we got back on the tour bus, Raphael confronted me and said “his boss was demanding that he collect from us the cost of the tour, because we were with him, not Grayline. As it turns out, Raphael was telling Grayline that we went with him voluntarily and therefore the money we paid to Grayline should be turned over from Grayline to Raphael. Grayline apparently told them to take a hike so they came to us for payment. We told them flat out no!

After leaving the restaurant we made a tour stop in Vina del Mar. The guide, Raphael, approached me and demanded payment for his tour and that if we did not agree to pay, immediately, and in cash, they would have to put us out on a street corner. We refused to pay and demanded they call the police. They refused to call the police but did take us to the hotel. We did not get any of the tour or luncheon which we paid for.

Grayline definitely gave no consideration to our safety or well-being.

Cruise Port in Buenos Aires to Buenos Aires Hotel Transport

Grayline sent a driver to pick us up at the cruise port. Again, he had no documentation, no name tag, no company identification, and was driving a civilian compact passenger car with no markings. He knew our name and the name of the hotel but not the address. He had to ask a man on the street if he knew where the hotel was – the man did not. I had to give him the address.

When we tried to confirm he knew where to take us, he was unable to confirm either by speech or by producing paperwork. This is not a way to convey to a client that their safety and well-bing is important to the company.

Grayline did not give consideration to our safety or well-being. No voucher was requested from us.

Combo, Buenos Aires City Tour and Tango Lesson, Dinner and Folkloric Show and Transport from Hotel to EZE Airport

We went on a city tour of Buenos Aires. The Grayline tour guide was supposed to pick us up at our hotel. A young woman met us at the hotel and when questioned she said she had been hired by Grayline to take us on a city tour. She advised us we had to walk a distance to meet a bus, we would then drive a short distance to meet another bus and our English speaking tour guide.

Well, we walked a block and a half to a bus. After we got to the bus we drove for an hour picking up other people from their hotels. Then we were deposited on the street. After a couple of minutes another guide appeared and introduced herself and told us we had to walk a distance to another bus. We walked 2.5 blocks where we began our tour, and hour late.

Neither guide had any paperwork or identification. No voucher was requested from us.

The guide was multilingual so she would give a brief description in English very quickly and then jump right to the next language. If you did not understand, oh well. If you had a question, oh well. Her English was really below basic. By the time she got through all her descriptions the bus had moved three or four blocks down and you had no idea what you missed. Only about 25% of the tour was spoken badly in broken English. We understood we were going on a city tour with a group that spoke English and would have an English tour guide. Everyone else in the group may have been Spanish. We had no idea where we were, where we were going or what we were seeing. It was a complete waste.

Literally, no more than 20 minutes was spoken in English. When we stopped at one of the stopped we went to approach the guide to ask questions, but that was impossible. She got on her cellphone, turned her back on everyone and walked away, ignoring all the people on the tour. When we were scheduled to meet up with her again, she appeared, still on her cellphone.

Grayline definitely did not take our safety and well-being into consideration. No voucher was requested from us.

We went for tango lessons, a local fare dinner, and then a tango and folklore music show. It was entertaining but the mood was spoilt and we missed about 40 minutes of the show when the wait staff started trying to sell pix or asking for gratuities in the middle of the performance. They hounded everyone and did not understand when we told them repeatedly to go away because we were watching the show. After about 40 minutes they left us alone to continue watching the show. But the experience was distracting.

The show was over about midnight. We exited the restaurant and walked up and down the block looking for our driver from Grayline. When we got off the bus we confirmed that he would be there during the show and to pick us up. He said "yes" he would be there. After about 30 minutes we approached the restaurant personnel and asked them to call Grayline for us. They inquired as to why, we told them, and they said, not to worry they would deliver us to our hotel. Grayline has since told me that it was not their responsibility to return us to the hotel - it was up to the restaurant. Wouldn't it have been nice to know that. Otherwise we were convinced we had been abandoned on a street corner, in a foreign country.

The driver showed up, on schedule but again, without any documentation, uniform, name tag or vehicle markings and he spoke no English.

Grayline did not take into account our safety or well-being. No vouchers were requested at any time.

Other:

Santiago City Tour – After arriving in Santiago we spoke with a hotel desk clerk about a city tour for the next morning. The hotel desk clerk made the arrangement for us and we were to be picked up at 9 AM. When the tour driver and tour guide showed up to pick us up, they presented us with the Grayline customer survey so, to double check, we asked if they were from Grayline and they said yes. The guide, Raphael clearly stated he did not work for Grayline, or freelance, but was contracted with Grayline to conduct tours on request.

But they had no uniform, no name tag, and no documentation except the customer survey form; and again they were in a standard vehicle with no markings. And, unfortunately the driver spoke zero English and the guide spoke slim and none. We spent the entire morning on Google searching words, names and places that he could not figure out how to translate. We benefited very little from the tour because he was able to give us minimal information.

At the conclusion of the tour Raphael took us to a restaurant for a “local fare” luncheon. Well, no one spoke English and they had no English menu. They brought us food which I hope I never have occasion to eat again.

Grayline said they are sorry, but oh well. Sorry does not even begin to modify the fact that legally and morally Grayline or any other company has a responsibility to act “responsibly” and in good faith in the care and handling of their customers.

According to a Grayline representative, they promise only to be on time, they do not promise the drivers or guides will be able to speak English and if we have any other expectations, that is basically our problem.

Grayline has told me that our safety and well-being is not part of the arrangement.

Grayline told me that regarding the Tango dinner transportation, they were obligated to take us to the restaurant. Getting back to the hotel was the restaurants responsibility. No one told us. We were abandoned on the street at midnight in Buenos Aires. If we had not asked the restaurant people to call Grayline for us, we never would have gotten back to our hotel. The restaurant volunteered to deliver us to our hotel.

Grayline thanked us for submitting our complaints and said our comments would “help us to work on these with our suppliers in order to try to improve the services.” Wasn’t that gracious of them?

Grayline said if we had a problem or concern, we should have called the emergency number. We had our hotels call Grayline and I followed up with our concerns, in writing, via email and we were assured, in writing, in email, that our vacation and tours in Argentina would be perfect after the travesties in Chile. Not even close.

Reason of review: Bad quality.

Monetary Loss: $945.

Preferred solution: Full refund.

Company wrote 0 private or public responses to the review from Jan 31, 2015.

Gray Line Bus Tours Ruined Our NY Vacation!

3 comments
Not resolved

The following letter is what I sent to the President of Gray Line Bus Tours... you guessed it... no reply, they obviously don't care about their customers.

Dear Grayline Official:

On June 19th we visited New York City and prior to that we pre-ordered/purchased an “All Loops” pass on your double decker buses. We were excited to have this opportunity to visit New York and it was even a more special occasion because our two daughters (age 6 & 13) were with us on this visit. On June 20th at 11:13 AM we redeemed our voucher for your service. We took our place in line (Avenue of the America's by your offices) to begin what we thought would be pleasant and memorable adventure for our daughters. Unfortunately, it was very busy this day on your bus tours. We boarded bus number 71335 hoping if we rode it far enough people would get off at one of the scheduled stops. People trickled off, we understand you operate a popular service and it’s first come first served. After waiting our turn (after numerous stops) our two daughters were able to go up to the top level. At this time your tour guide (described as a white female mid to upper 60’s in age) yelled at my 13 year old daughter “on her microphone” stating “that’s my seat... unless of course you can do my job...get out of my seat, your seat is in back”, this was the first occurrence which my daughter (and both of us) were embarrassed. In fact, the seat my daughters took were the very first seats in the first row. I learned later by another passenger who stated “that was totally uncalled for, embarrassing little girls like that, they must have been terrified”. This same passenger pointed our a bright yellow seat which was the seat reserved for the tour guide. The seating wasn’t the problem, it was what she did.

After several more stops, my wife was able to obtain a seat on the upper level, things were actually looking up for us, we were determined to see as much of New York as we possible could, it’s a beautiful city with too much history to miss, that’s why we bought your service for $63.00 each.

Approximately 2-3 stops later, I was able to get up to the top deck of the bus. I had a stroller, which was folded and compact, I was sweating and nervous because this turned out to be more than we bargained for but still, I thought “what an opportunity for the children.” As I was going up the steps with the stroller, your tour guide spoke loudly in the microphone stating “NO strollers up here... you go back down those steps and put it down there... some people, we don’t even have room for people up here and he wants to bring a stroller.” That was the second time she embarrassed us, especially me, I felt like crawling in a hole. I’m a police officer and I don’t talk to criminals like she spoke to me. I then made my way back up the stairs and looked towards the back of the bus for my seat. Your tour guide “yes” got back on the microphone and actually screamed at me (I’m not exaggerating) “up here, hurry up, not back there” and started shaking her head from side to side. Then she leaned back to the male passenger sitting right behind her stating “unbelievable, I love my job” and shook her head from side to side once again. I confronted her asking her to stop being so mean. That was it, the war was on... she gave it to me with both barrels, sat with her mouth open and stared me down, she then shook her head again (side to side) mumbled, unreal and told me “sit down now.” I’m not making this stuff up, I don’t think anybody could. The male that she seemed to bond with yelled out to me “get used to it, this is New York! If you don’t like it, get off the bus.” This angered some other passengers who started making comments such as “it’s about time somebody went up against her” an elderly couple told my wife that they had her as a tour guide their last time on the bus and the elderly male said in a loud tone to his wife “how did you let me get on the bus with this lady... I thought I told you I would never go on the same bus as her again.” So now this is the third embarrassing moment.

I then sat in my seat with my head straight forward, there was no place to go... we didn’t even know where we were, we were stuck! I felt like a little child that was just scolded.

-1-

Approximately 3 stops later she announced “China Town, anybody want to get off at China Town”, so we did... I know from being in New York before when I visited China Town there was a Subway there we could catch.

She made an announcement before we departed saying “please be considerate, your tips are the only way we make our money”, “be courteous, give generously, we provided a service to you, this is your way to say thank you.” I just about puked - I couldn’t believe her... this was the most miserable experience I’ve ever had. And no excuse that this is New York... I’ve visited New York many times and never was treated like this. This was supposed to be special, my girls (my wife too) were never so embarrassed and it literally ruined the rest of our day, this wasn’t fair. We tried to recoup and make the best out of it but it didn’t happen.

There was no way I would give her one penny, she was an absolute nightmare and I think she should be fired. I don’t know if anybody else has taken the time to write a letter, but I’m still mad over it... every time we look at pictures and see one of your buses in it, the story gets told over and over, that’s the first thing my 13 year old told her friends of her New York experience... isn’t that sad, it should have been how exciting the city is, the food, the excitement, the view from our beautiful hotel, anything but the “tour guide from ***” experience.

We did not, would not get on another Grayline bus for the rest of our trip even though we had a 48 hour pass, this was a total waste of time and money and an entire ruined day out of our very expensive vacation that we saved a long time for. I tried to tell the station where we redeemed our voucher and they didn’t care to hear about it, your representative said “you still have time left on your ticket”, she nor anybody else could care a less which makes me believe they deal with this often, (probably from the same tour guide).

I did take a picture of the bus which reflects the bus number... I’m hoping you can gain the tour guides identity from this along with the date and time I provided. I am also sending this letter to the New York Mayor’s office, New York Consumer affairs, and New York Office of Tourism Board to start with. We can’t get back the miserable day we had but I do want my money back for all four tickets (copy of tickets & photo of bus attached). We paid for a service and we didn’t get it. There’s no excuse for anybody to treat other people, especially people who are on their vacation this way. I won’t except “get used to it, this is New York”, if this is how it was, I trust your tourism business would be a negative 0.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Respectfully,

Frank B. Pipia, Jr.

Company wrote 0 private or public responses to the review from Aug 17, 2008.

Comments

Anonymous
#1102120

THIS is why New Yorkers can't stand tourists....

Anonymous
to Anonymous #1152114

But new yorkers sure like our money. Your kinda ***.

Anonymous
#310138

Almost an identical experience in Chicago with Gray Line for my grandson and me. My wallet was stolen and I didn't have my grayline paperwork.

Do you think they could try and be understanding? No. We, to got yelled at on the microphone, and taken off at every stop promised new paperwork. At end of line they said--go back to beginning of tour and get your paperwork.

As if!

I also wrote a letter to the "powers that be", but no reply. The City of Chicago did apologize for them, but not the bus company itself.

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