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Author: sandys

Joined: 3/8/2010
Posts: 23
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

Most countries in Western Europe - Many countries in Eastern Europe. New Zealand, Australia, Cook Islands, Easter Island. Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Mexico (including Copper Canyon), South Africa. Almost all states in the USA, including Hawaii and Alaska. Canada, Bahamas, Many of the Caribbean Islands. China, Thailand.

Traveler Since: 2005

February 14, 2011

Just a heads up for everyone.  I just checked our tour invoice, and an additional charge for currency fluctuation and fuel increases has been added to the balance.

I talked with two different people at GCT who say that this increase has been applied across the board to all GCT and OAT trips.  They are absolutely inflexible, and categorically refuse to remove this new charge which was applied without any notice.  I offered to prepay the full amount before this surprise increase, but that was not acceptable to GCT.  In fact, I was "strongly urged" to use the Good Buy Plan, so that I wouldn't be subject to further price increases.

As far as currency fluctuation is concerned, the value of the dollar has improved against the euro - so that makes absolutely no sense.  For our river cruise, if GCT collects an extra $100 from each of the approximately 100 passengers, that equates to an additional $10,000 for GCT.  The rise in the price of fuel - partially offset by the recent strength of the dollar against the euro - does not merit this surprise increase.

Customers should have been notified before this price increase was added to their invoices.

This is very poor customer relations on the part of Grand Circle. 

Author: luvtravelin

Joined: 7/14/2010
Posts: 15
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 20
Traveler Since: 2001

February 15, 2011

I went to pay my bill on 2/11/2011 to take advantage of the "Good Buy" discount and also saw the $200.00 increase.  A call to OAT was a complete waste of time.  I agree with the above two posters that this was not very good PR for the company and a very poor decision on their part.  I have requested an increase in my travel credit voucher to reflect the increse cost, but have not had a response from anyone yet.  This trip in October will be our 15th. 

Author: jpkach

Joined: 2/15/2011
Posts: 4
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2008

February 15, 2011

 

My brother and I just had the same experience with the 50 Dollar per person change fee.It add.s a 100 dollars per couple to the trip  even though we changed to a more expensive trip...1450.00 more.The Reason for this 50.00 each, Andrew, our agent said was to pay for the hotels and transportation we were not using. Totally Unacceptable. I gues the loss of just a few travellers in their minds is worth the 50 Dollars.We have travelled with GCT before and had a great time,their reaction to the crisis in Egypt was actually only in their best interests......So we are off to Holland and Belgium  Maybe Egypt next year......PS we also tried to get this change fee waived..

Author: gerabel

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 22
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Iceland, Westman Islands, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, France, England, Greece, Grecian Isles, Spain, Gibraltar, Malta, Comino, Gozo, Morocco, Sicily, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, Mallorca, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, much of the USA, among other places.

Traveler Since: 2000

February 16, 2011

I agree with the other posters... this was very poorly handled without a word of warning as my trip is not until October which is 9 months from now!! The worst part about it for me is that I am a Group Leader for a group of 10 people who have never traveled with GCT before and they are quite miffed and upset to say the least. With this kind of an introduction to GCT, they probably will never travel with GCT again! How many more increases might there be over the next 9 months they would like to know?

And also, rather than use a credit card, why must you make your final payment by cash, check or electronic check in order  to lock in the price and be eligible for the Good Buy Plan. These are tough questions to answer as a Group Leader.I can't just say I don't know, please call GCT directly.  

I hope you will address these issues promptly!

Author: oldbog

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 41
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Traveler Since: 1999

February 16, 2011

We were also sceptical of the currency and fuel price as justification for the $100 extra charge.  We did receive a letter announcing this for our Sept. river cruise with indication that a revised invoice would follow.

Given our past good experiences with GCT and OAT this has us wondering about possible financial issues with the company.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

February 16, 2011

I agree that GC should notify you in writing or with a phone call if/when they are going to charge the extra $100 fuel/currency charge, but it says clearly in their catalog that it is a possibility that it could happen. I would liked to have been notified first also before it popped into my invoice for my Russia trip in October. And yes, other travel companies have and will add on fuel charges, etc. to their trip. All or most of them will give themselves this leeway.

I am not sure, but I would think that the reason they give a discount for the Good Buy Plan if you use a check, etc. instead of a credit card is because they don't have to lose that 3-5% amount that they do (or pay to the credit card co.) when someone uses a credit card. There are businesses around my town that will give a small discount if you pay in cash or by check instead of a card, for that very reason.

 

Author: gerabel

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 22
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Iceland, Westman Islands, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, France, England, Greece, Grecian Isles, Spain, Gibraltar, Malta, Comino, Gozo, Morocco, Sicily, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, Mallorca, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, much of the USA, among other places.

Traveler Since: 2000

February 16, 2011

Yes, I understand that re; the credit card BUT... GCT will allow a credit card payment for the final payment, they just won't  lock in the price of the trip unless you pay by check, etc.. That makes no sense at all. I have traveled with many a different travel angency and my final payment via credit card always locked in the price.

  And as far as the Travel Booklet stating there could be an increase... yes it does say that BUT again, the letter should have given a forewarning that if not paid in full by, let's say February 13th,  there would be an increase of $100.00.   That would have been the proper and professiona; way to handle the situation.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

February 16, 2011

@gerabel:  I agree!

Author: jpkach

Joined: 2/15/2011
Posts: 4
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2008

February 16, 2011

 

After I read about the additional $100 per traveler increase, I checked my account and found the additional increases there also....That explaines why Andrew would not let us pay for the increase by check.and we should wait for our statement.

GCT went from a first class operation to a sleasey Back room ticket travel company. That may be a bit strong but the communication to their customers in this crisis indicated that their committment to those who had paid thousands of dollars because of their confidence in the company was nonexistant. The real answer may be that they are loseing money on the trip cancellations they are trying to make it up.

Author: sandys

Joined: 3/8/2010
Posts: 23
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

Most countries in Western Europe - Many countries in Eastern Europe. New Zealand, Australia, Cook Islands, Easter Island. Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Mexico (including Copper Canyon), South Africa. Almost all states in the USA, including Hawaii and Alaska. Canada, Bahamas, Many of the Caribbean Islands. China, Thailand.

Traveler Since: 2005

February 16, 2011

I finally received a letter today, maybe in response to my phone call.  It said that in order to avoid FUTURE ADDITIONAL increases, payment in full must be paid by EFT, Cash, or Check.

I wonder if they are planning to continually increase the price of tours in order to get tour participants to prepay.

Other travel companies have Ts & Cs that allow them to increase the trip cost if their costs, mainly for fuel, go up above a certain threshold - but we have never been hit for an increase in price by any other tour or cruise company - even when their costs go up above the given threshold.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 540
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

February 16, 2011

I'm not happy about it either. I got the letter today for my Sept trip. I'm doing "Land Only" and still being charged the $100. My first thought was that OAT and GCT have been hurt by the Egypt and Tunisia situations but I hope they're not trying to recoup with this charge.

I did have to pay more once on an Elderhostel (now Road Scholar) trip. People weren't happy about that either.

Author: gerabel

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 22
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Iceland, Westman Islands, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, France, England, Greece, Grecian Isles, Spain, Gibraltar, Malta, Comino, Gozo, Morocco, Sicily, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, Mallorca, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, much of the USA, among other places.

Traveler Since: 2000

February 17, 2011

                               Why are the more recent comments not posting?  Has GCT deleted them?

Author: daryleann

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 10
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

64 countries and counting

Traveler Since: 2011

February 17, 2011

We received a letter yesterday, and it states that in order to avoid the increase, we would need to pay in full by March 4th. Since our final payment is due Feb 18th, you would think that everyone on our trip would avoid it. As it happens, we had sent in a check for the balance and it crossed in the mail. Thus, our account did not get the fee accessed.

We have traveled with other companies and they list the amount of the trip; if you pay in cash/check, it drops $100. GCT says that we will get a voucher, so that means our cost is essentially $50 less per person... as I read it.

Have had friends that are not happy with GCT, but others who say they are the best trips. Guess we will get another experience... hope it is a good one.

Author: travelann

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 44
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2010

February 17, 2011

The only guarantee to avoid an increase is to pay in full at time of booking. This is true of any tour company; not just GCT. Also true of the airlines.

Author: gerabel

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 22
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Iceland, Westman Islands, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, France, England, Greece, Grecian Isles, Spain, Gibraltar, Malta, Comino, Gozo, Morocco, Sicily, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, Mallorca, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, much of the USA, among other places.

Traveler Since: 2000

February 17, 2011

But, Grand Circle only asks for a deposit, (of $350.00 in my case),  and full payment of Trip Mate Insurance at time of booking and so haven't other travel companies I have dealt with. Why wouold one pay in full a whole year or more before departure. That money could be colecting interest in my account rather than GCT.  

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

February 17, 2011

The Good Buy discount has the impact of a 10% APY return on investment and I'm not getting that on very many (if any) of my investments.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

February 18, 2011

wattsed, your point is well taken. I was specifically answering the question of the previous poster who asked "...why would anyone...?" I admit that I have been fortunate enough over the years to have accumulated the funds ahead of time before booking a cruise or tour. The savings associated with the early payment have been the main incentive, but the "price lock-in" has been important also. For my next trip, starting in about three weeks, there was a rather trivial example. Between booking and travel, a daily hotel transit tax was imposed in Rome that would have cost us about $10 but because we paid in full early, it was waived (eaten?) by GCT. Another example involved a cruise tour we took in 2009. After booking and paying in full, I saw that GCT was offering the exact trip for several hundred dollars less than we had paid. I requested and was granted a refund to make my payment more in line with what was being paid by those who booked later. I considered that a good faith response by GCT.

Author: jershel

Joined: 2/18/2011
Posts: 1
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2006

February 18, 2011

It would appear that Grand Circle will not be in business too much longer with this type of customer service.  We will never travel with them again.  Furthermore, you don't reduce the fares on trips by several hundred dollars (which they have done on our trip, which is 6 months from now) and then charge those who have paid a much higher price an extra $100 per person.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 540
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

February 18, 2011

Thanks Wattsed for a good response about the good buy plan. Up until now, I've been fine paying a deposit and then the final payment with a credit card to get frequent flyer miles. I'm not comfortable tying up a large sum of money for several months for a few reasons, health costs  being one.

The example in the GCT catalog is if you paid $4000 eight months before your trip you'd save $160, 4% of the cost. That just isn't worthwhile to me, maybe it is for couples though.  

I'm another who would like to know the calculation, especially about the "currency fluctuations." I can see why people traveling to Europe with a stronger dollar are asking questions and why they'd be upset about an additional when the trips they'be booked have been discounted.  

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

February 18, 2011

I have to agree with Luisa and Wattsed.  The idea of paying it all so far ahead, even if they would allow us to do it with a credit card, just doesn't sit right with me.  I just paid the balance on my trip to Ireland in June a few weeks early, and I did it with a credit card.  I want the mileage credits.  And my account shows the invoice marked "paid in full."

But I would also like to see how this surcharge is justified, even though it doesn't affect me.

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