15 Jan 2019
Avoid Tourist Israel at all costs!
My son is currently stranded in Egypt with no money or means to leave the country. Tourist Israel, or perhaps just their guide, has drained his bank account by charging him multiple times for the same tour and they refuse to rectify the situation. To make matters worse the tour was a nightmare and he and his friend were forced, through concerns for their safety, to leave the guide and attempt to navigate on their own.
Over 25 email exchanges with Tourist Israel over the last 60+ hours has resulted in no response other than “we are sorry your son is not enjoying his trip” and vague promises to look into the situation “when management is available”. There has been no answer as to when this “availability” actually is as Yasmine, the only representative from the company available, has repeatedly refused to answer this question.
My son has been patient and reasonable in an attempt to rectify this, but as 80+ hours has passed since this communication with no attempt at all to resolve it, the situation is becoming more and more serious. He and his friend made every attempt to continue the trip without a guide, in good faith that the money would be refunded, but they were unsuccessful and have been trapped in Cairo with no ability to travel anywhere due to the financial situation. The trip has ended as the money is gone and he is now without the means to even get out of Egypt.
Below is my son’s account of the situation, as communicated to Tourist Israel over 80+ hours ago. They have refused to take any action at all.
XXXX and I would like to immediately cancel and get a refund for the 4-day private Egypt tour we are currently on. We understand that some services have been rendered and are willing to consider a refund of at least 75% the total cost of the tour. Let me be clear, we are not canceling because we have changed our mind! We are canceling because we have not received what we paid for, have had horrible service, and because we feel very uncomfortable on this tour. As such, please spare us the rhetoric on what your return policy is and, please work with us on processing some sort of refund or else we will be forced to pursue others means to rectify the situation. Let it also be known that we were more than happy with our 3-day Petra tour and day tour of Jerusalem so obviously we are not trying to be difficult here. Please treat us like the good customers we have been!
My mother has been cc’ed in this email and is authorized to address this issue on our behalf.
Please be respectful and do not contact our tour guides in regards to this email or make them aware of our desire to terminate the tour. If we suspect for any moment that our tour guides become aware of this communication, we will leave our hotel immediately and pursue other means of restitution. If you wish to inquire further with our tour guides, please wait until we are no longer on the tour or obligated to see them again. With all due respect, this is not a request.
A summary of why we are unhappy…
Before our drive to Sinai, the gentleman that met us at the border charged my card twice leaving me short on money for the trip. When I brought this to his attention, he insisted that I was wrong and when I showed him my bank statement he told me that my bank was wrong and persisted in showing me some random receipt that “proved” he had only charged me once. When I mentioned that I did not budget enough money to go without the extra 941$, he told me not to worry and to get into the van. Frankly, the whole situation was very sketchy, and it seemed as if we were being treated like pieces of luggage. (pics of receipt and bank statement included)
After we got into the van, our drive to Cairo was excruciating! To start, we were freezing the entire time to the point at which we could see our breath whenever we exhaled. As such could not sleep or get comfortable for the 8+ hour drive that was stressful enough considering the security situation. XXXX asked the driver multiple times to turn on the heat, in both English and in Arabic (which he speaks), and all request were denied. At one point XXXX took the liberty to turn the heat up himself when the driver left the vehicle for a moment only to have the driver turn the heat off once he realized it was on. In addition, we only briefly stopped once during the entire drive while and had to resort to pissing in bottles in the back seat while the car was bouncing around on the mountain roads of Sinai (pictures included below.) Our driver also made a small detour in a village off of the established route to pick up a package and meet with some unidentified gentlemen which was concerning considering the area is known for kidnapping so a little explanation would’ve been appreciated. For what it is worth our driver did drive very safely all factors considered and the police officer that rode with us was very respectful however I think you can all agree that this experience was unacceptable even though it was only the beginning.
When we arrived in Cairo, we met our tour guide at the Egyptian museum to begin our tour. At first, everything seemed to be in order, but it became clear very quickly that we were not receiving the trip we had been negotiating with Dominik for the last ten months. Once we entered the museum, we asked our guide to bring us to the bathroom and to get some food before beginning (reasonable considering our drive experience.) Our guide was not interested in either and immediately proceeded to rush us around the museum allowing us almost no time to see any of the exhibits we wanted to. At one point we both requested to look at the mummies, and he told us that the ticket would cost extra (more than willing to pay BTW) after which he started to push us out of the museum. We never got to see the mummy exhibit! On the way out of the museum, when XXXX and I stopped at a display that caught our attention, our guide became very impatient and at one point clapped at us and yelled “yallah” or hurry up. Before exiting the museum, we passed through the gift shop, and I wanted to buy a magnet and postcard for my parents, but he was apparently not having it with our unreasonable side quest. I was unable to purchase either! Before leaving the museum, we managed to get his permission to buy a Coke and use the bathroom, but it was clear that he was becoming very annoyed that we were not staying on the program. In all, we spent about 30 minutes in the worlds premiere Egyptian museum.
While we were waiting for our van to pick us up outside of the museum, we explained to our guide our concerns. Our primary concern was that we had specifically booked a private tour with you all so that we could have a flexible and unrushed experience in Egypt. One of the primary goals of the trip was to spend half the day at the pyramids so that we would have enough time to adequately see the sites and get some good pictures as both XXXX and I are passionate photographers. This would require being at the pyramids either in the early morning or evening in an unrushed fashion. This was communicated explicitly to Dominik as being a primary requirement of the trip, but our guide made it abundantly clear that the pyramids would both be rushed and occur in the afternoon (when the lighting is the worst and its the busiest). After trying to alter the schedule, it became evident that we were not getting what we paid for and that this tour would ruin our trip if we remained on it any longer.
After the museum, our guide brought us to the papyrus factory to get a “historical” demonstration of how papyrus was made and how it impacted Egyptian culture. We were both very excited, but our excitement quickly soured. After a fascinating 3 minute demonstration, we were hounded by the papyrus institute workers and pressured into buying 100$’s of dollars worth of artwork. Wanting to leave we both asked our tour guide to go at which point he joined the papyrus staff in pressuring us to buy the expensive art. He told us we should relax and make ourselves at home while his friends fetched us tea and coffee. Frankly, I found it very odd that we were so rushed at the Egyptian Museum, in the market, and had been told we would have a strict time limit at the pyramids but seemed to have all the time in the damn world to buy art from his friends. It was the only time today our guide did not rush us! When it became clear that he would not help us fend off the aggressive art peddlers I explained to him that I did not have money to buy any art (although it was very beautiful and I would’ve loved to) because I have been overcharged by Tour Israel and had almost no money in my bank account because of it. Our guide then persisted in asking me how much money I had in my bank account and wanted me to empty my pockets and show him how much I had there. After avoiding the aggressive and embarrassing question, he then started pressing me about the overcharge and called the gentleman from the night before who charged us for the tour. This man was very aggressive on the phone and yelled “what’s your problem?” when the guide handed me the phone. After he calmed down, he told me not to worry about it (again!) and said he would sort it out next week. It took us about 30 minutes to get our guide out of the papyrus shop.
Afterward, we were driven to our lunch where XXXX and I decided we wanted to leave the tour immediately. At the time our laptops and phones were dead, so we were unable to get a hold of any of you. When we asked the guide to take us somewhere that we could charge our devices and get on wi-fi so that I could get a hold of you all, he seemed very evasive and tried to delay telling us over and over again to just “enjoy our trip.” Finally, we compelled the guide to bring us to our hotel so that we could get away from him and the driver and plan our escape.
When we arrived at the hotel, it took a suspicious 50 minutes for our check-in during which our guide was pressuring us to go to some bar and grill show where scantily dressed women in ancient Egyptian clothing dance on us while we ate food. Eventually, XXXX and I became impatient and finally managed to get him to give us our hotel key allowing me to finally write this email.
All in all our first day in Cairo has consisted of 30 minutes in a museum, getting harassed by art peddlers, driving by the pyramids, and an okay lunch. I think all of you at Tourist Israel will agree this is not the premium private tour we paid for!
This is a merely a summary of all that has occurred but no by no means everything. However, this should be enough to garner your support in moving forward.
We need an immediate refund so that we can pursue Egypt on our own accord with the limited time we have left. To do this will require a prompt refund of this tour as well as the overcharge Tour Israel recently crippled me with. Anything less will ruin our trip and leave us unable to enjoy Egypt short of being forced to endure the torture of your tour. Please make this right ASAP! If it weren’t for you all charging me twice for this Egypt tour, I would have enough funds to wait until Sunday. Unfortunately, I can only afford to be in Egypt for a few days and as such need access to my funds today so please make yourselves useful in making this right. I also want to make it clear that we do not want this situation remedied on the tour guides end. We want to leave the tour!
Also, please refer to the email I sent this afternoon and yesterday in regards to the money you owe me for overcharging for Petra, charging me twice for the 4-day Egypt tour, and the 10% from our Jerusalem day tour. Tour Israel is straining me financially, and I still have to sustain myself for another 1 1/2 weeks in the Middle East, and there’s a lot we still have to do! We still need to buy plane tickets tomorrow, so this refund is non-negotiable and cannot wait until Sunday!
I really want to give you guys a good review but our satisfaction with the combined 3-tours and nearly 3,500$ USD we have spent with you this month is plummeting very quickly. Our patience is running thin so please make this right and act in accordance with ethical business practices!