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Author: newlad56

Joined: 7/8/2013
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Malta, Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, the Dutch ABC islands, St Maarten, Canada, China (with GCT in 2009), Croatia/Slovenia in May 2012 (GCT).

Traveler Since: 2009

July 08, 2013

I'm not sure if it's me or GCT.  I've signed up for a South American trip, paid the deposit, and thought I had all the costs accounted for and known.  Then came a GCT envelope in the mail, announcing a $160 entry fee for each of the countries to be visited.  So, that's an extra $320 not noted by GCT until well after I had booked the trip and paid the deposit.  The final invoice came and it was $200 more for the travel insurance than had previously been discussed.  It seems that the $1400 airfare requires an extra $200 in insurance, which was not mentioned at the time I added the flights to the trip reservation. I did price travel insurance for this trip using other travel insurers; the GCT cost is much higher for the same coverage.  I phoned the CS folks earlier and voiced my unhappiness with the failures to disclose all costs.  This is in stark contrast to my GCT China trip in 2009, where everything was communicated to me, including the cost of the Chinese visa.  Perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention here, but I still think that GCT could have done a better job of communication.

Thoughts, anyone?

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 272
GCT Trips Taken: 0
OAT Trips Taken: 0

July 08, 2013

Hello Newlad56 -

Thank you for your comments. 

We apologize that not all the fees were disclosed to you when you booked.  Somebody will be following up with you offline to discuss your invoice.

Kind Regards,

Michelle

GCT/GCCL Forum Moderator

Author: calsandy

Joined: 7/21/2010
Posts: 14
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2007

July 08, 2013

 Newlad56,

FYI, when I signed up for the S. Am. trip, the GCT agent did tell me what the visa fees were including Brazil (since I also signed up for the trip ext) so it sounds like this is hit or miss with their agents. Perhaps a reminder from GCT to their staff to include this info. It might even be on the website trip description but I haven't checked. 

As for trip ins, I buy mine elsewhere just for the reason you stated--GCT ins is more expensive.

Hope you get some resolution on the unexpected increase for ins.

Sandy

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

July 08, 2013

Isn't it still possible to cancel the insurance with GCT and get it from another company?

Author: calsandy

Joined: 7/21/2010
Posts: 14
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2007

July 08, 2013

FYI-- Found this on GCT's web description, Know Before You Go:

 

Visa Information

U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Argentina: No visa required. Note: Argentina charges an advance reciprocity (entry) fee.
  • Chile (main trip): No visa required. Note: Chile charges a reciprocity (entry) fee.
  • Peru (optional extension): Visa not required.
  • Brazil (optional extension): Visa required.

Handbook, which can be downloaded from the web, has the following info:

 

 

Both Argentina and Chile have a $160 per person entry fee for U.S. citizens. This fee is known as areciprocity fee because it is equal to the amount an Argentine or Chilean citizen would have to pay to enter the U.S. For Argentina the fee must be paid before you leave home; for Chile it is paid on arrival.

 

For Argentina, the reciprocity fee must be paid in advance, online, using an accepted credit card. Once paid, you will receive an e-mailed receipt that you will need to bring with you as proof of payment. We will send you detailed information on how to do this in your Visa Packet about 100 days prior to departure. Because GCT cannot reimburse for changes to the reciprocity fee program or for unused fees, we suggest that you wait until you are at or inside 90 days from departure to make this payment. Once paid, the fee permits multiple entries into Argentina for ten years in accordance with United States visa reciprocity.

In any case, the agents should reiterate this info when people sign up--some of this gets lost in all the details of trip planning.



Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 141
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

July 08, 2013

I did Antarctica with another company a couple years ago and had completely forgotten about the Argentina fee; however, I and many others were able to pay the fee on arrival...they had a window to do this and a listing board by country with what the fee was because it was a different amount for different countries...Fee on arrival may have changed to conform to the above GCT booklet; however, it may be worthwhile to check out current requirements..

Author: newlad56

Joined: 7/8/2013
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Malta, Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, the Dutch ABC islands, St Maarten, Canada, China (with GCT in 2009), Croatia/Slovenia in May 2012 (GCT).

Traveler Since: 2009

July 08, 2013

Thanks to all who replied.  Good comments, all.   I can cancel the travel insurance and get it cheaper elsewhere.  A friennd who is taking the OAT trip to Chile/Argentina in Feb 2014 did that when she found the $599 travel insurance fee too steep. She got the same coverage for $299 from another seller.  My rate would be about $320, including the air insurance.  Age is a factor in the insurance costs.

As to the coountry fees, it's always difficult to wade throught the voluminous materials GCT sends. It's difficlut to sort through the stuff they send because it's not flagged on the envelpe as "information for your trip". I, like most, do not always catch the "fine print'.  I didn't here, because I haven't really gone through everything in excruciating detail since the trip is not until October.  One tends to look at that material as the date gets closer, like six to eight weeks prior to departure.  On the China trip the CS folks must have used a checklist, because they mentioned the visa requirements every time I called.  That didn't happen here. It was more like an afterthought,  "Oh, by the way...."  And speaking of BTW, the travel insurance for the China trip was $299, all 20 days worth.

I'm just not feeling the "love" here.  I'm about 90% ready to withdraw from the trip.  Willl sleep on it and make a final decision in the morning.

Again, thanks to all the nice GCT/OAT travelers who've shared their thoughts. In my two GCT trips, I've thoroughly enjoyed my travel companions, and the really excellent tour guides. And I am enjoying the camaraderie of this forum.

 

 

 

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 148
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2005

July 09, 2013

It sounds like the travel counselor you spoke with on the phone dropped the ball a bit by not mentioning the visas/reciprocal fees, which are , indeed, ridiculous for some South American countries. It's very hard to "bite the bullet" and pay those fees, or at least it was for us , even though we did know about them well ahead of time.

If you want to see Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, you have to pay those fees no matter which travel company you sign up with.

If your trip is OAT's "The Wilderness Beyond" to Argentina and Chile, with the Iguassu Falls extension, do take it anyway!  It is such a wonderful trip, with beauty everywhere, and wonderful contrasts.  I promise you won't be sorry.

Author: noseycat

Joined: 5/18/2012
Posts: 52
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 2007

July 09, 2013

Those "ridiculous"  fees: reciprocal means that we charge those South American folks the same fees.  All part of careful planning for the travel experience.

 

Author: ematluck

Joined: 8/13/2012
Posts: 14
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 6
Traveler Since: 1999

July 09, 2013

 You must pay the Argentinian reciprocity fee in advance. It is done online and you will receive directions. They checked it repeatedly before they would let me on the plane. Yes, it's expensive, but it's part of the cost of travel. It is good for ten years, so I think I'd better go back!

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

July 09, 2013

Sleeping on it is a good idea. It's annoying to have costs pop up that you weren't expecting, but you have time to adjust your trip insurance, which is a savings.

Is the trip Discover South America? If so, it's a very good trip, one of my favorites, so I hope you reconsider canceling.

I took it a few years ago and don't recall any cost for Chile, but did pay the reciprocity fee for Argentina on arrival, which was lower then, so I assume the US has increased the cost for Argentinian citizens.

Author: newlad56

Joined: 7/8/2013
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Malta, Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, the Dutch ABC islands, St Maarten, Canada, China (with GCT in 2009), Croatia/Slovenia in May 2012 (GCT).

Traveler Since: 2009

July 09, 2013

Again, all very good feedback. The fees we charge foreign visitors was new to me. Thank you for sharing that.  Also did not know the fees were good for 10 years.  Again, very helpful information from a fellow GCT traveler. 

While I've been out at medical appointments all day, someone (whose name I never understood, in spite of listening to the voice mail three times) from GCT left a message and a phone number with an extension.  Thinking I was going to get to speak to someone who would listen, I called the number. Surprise!  There was music (the dreaded "hold" music) for about a minute before a recorded voice came on and announced that "Please hold and your call will be answered in the order it was received."  There was no indication of the wait time.  Not wanting to waste my time, I hung up and decided to spend my time more productively here on the forum.

I'm beginning to get the idea that GCT does not really want to talk to me.  Why else would you give a return number that does not connect to the person who called you?  This is starting to look more and more like a classic case of how not to treat a customer.  Where is "Undercover Boss" when you really need it?

 

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 141
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

July 09, 2013

I guess I was lucky with getting to pay the fee on arrival---effective January 7, 2013 paying the fee on arrival is no longer an option---Aslo, I had totally forgotten that it was good for 10 years and had paid once again when I went to Antarctica without thinking about it---I guess it pays to do a little google search before you depart for a trip to any country outside the United States..

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 513
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

July 09, 2013

 I'm sorry if I sound sarcastic, but how can you expect someone to be sitting there so that they can answer your call, as soon as you call. We have found that most of our calls with GCT take about 15 to 30 minutes to answer any questions we have regarding the trip and dates, make that actual reservation, make the payment over the phone and usually have a pleasent conversation about the trip and other trips we may have taken. Any subsequent calls would be much briefer. If you expect  your call be answered by one specific person, you would have to get in line behind possibly many such calls. You will get a much prompter response from the next agent available. We have seldom had to wait more than 5 minuts or so, to talk to a person that we may have on the line for half an hour. All of the agents have your file available on the screen in front of them, so, except under unusual circumstances can give you the same level of service as any other agent.

Author: newlad56

Joined: 7/8/2013
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Malta, Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, the Dutch ABC islands, St Maarten, Canada, China (with GCT in 2009), Croatia/Slovenia in May 2012 (GCT).

Traveler Since: 2009

July 10, 2013

To nanaandpapa.

You do not "sound" sarcastic. I appreciate your views. Thank you for sharing them.

I merely noted that the person who called left a name which I could not understand even after I listened to the voice mail three times.  I did have a number with an extension, which any reasonable person would think would connect to that individual.  I wasn't terribly concerned that I could not understand the person's name because I had a number with a specific extension.  What did surprise me, as I noted in my post, is that it seemed to be a universal call-in number, with no mention of how long I'd be on hold.  My experience with call-in numbers which do not tell you how long your wait will be is that they have very long hold times.  I have a life, as do we all.  I am not geared to waiting an unspecified time (my time in the military left me with little tolerance for "waiting in line".) without knowing who was ultimately going to take the call.  I am finding the lack of communication very frustrating.  I hope you will allow me my feelings in the matter.  I did start the "conversation" by saying that I didn't know whether it's me or GCT.  Thus far, the manner in which it has been handled is in marked contrast to my previous experiences with GCT.  And which is precisely why I find this so frustrating.

I have no clue what GCT's response is.  I have deferred the decision on whether or not to go on the trip until I have the opportunity to hear their response. They have my email address, so perhaps we can connect there first and then move on to a phone conversation.

Of course, when I finally do get to converse with GCT, I will post here.  I am hopeful that will be today.

My thanks to all who have taken the time to post a response.

 

 

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

July 10, 2013

Newlad56, I agree with you in regard to returning the call you received. When a person leaves a message with name, phone number and extension, I assume that I can call back and speak with that person. When I return the call, I expect to be given the opportunity to enter the extension rather than just land in a queue waiting for my turn. 

Whenever I will be waiting on hold for an unknown length of time, I use the speaker on my phone so I can have both hands free for doing other things while waiting.

If you would like to send an email message to Customer Service, click Contact Us near the bottom of any gct.com page and you see the email address on the next page.

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

July 10, 2013

Contacting customer service by e-mail is worth a try. I used to do it regularly a few years ago and had quick responses for a while so hope that you will too. 

I hope you don't give up the trip because of this problem. I hate to say it, but most complaints are with customer service (sometimes excellent and sometimes not) but the trips are usually wonderful.

I didn't remember the fee in Chile, but checked my passport and see a stapled visitor receipt good for the life of the passport.  I don't see anything for Argentina but went twice and remember that it was valid for the second trip.

 

Author: newlad56

Joined: 7/8/2013
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Malta, Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, the Dutch ABC islands, St Maarten, Canada, China (with GCT in 2009), Croatia/Slovenia in May 2012 (GCT).

Traveler Since: 2009

July 16, 2013

Thank you to all who posted on this topic.  I have decided not to do the Chile/Argentina trip this Fall for several reasons. The primary one: I have to have a knee replacement soon (by the end of the year) and October, when the trip is to take place, is the best time for me to have it done.  There are other reasons, one being that I did not not "get" that GCT was trying to find out why their communications were so "off" in comparison to my other trips. They seem to have become "tone deaf" in dealing with us.  Don't know why that is; it is completely opposite all my previous experiences with GCT.  If they've become "tone deaf" to their customers, they've become just another travel company.  And when you're just another travel company, when you do things by the numbers, and by the procedures, you have to compete on price. (The Nordstrom model would be an excellent one to emulate, and, for a long time, I believed that was their model.) I don't know how competitive they are on price at this time, but I'm betting I can do Chile/Argentina next year for less than GCT or OAT will charge this year.   

And I will be unlikely to ever return to take a GCT or OAT trip.  Never imagined I would ever write those words.  Seems very odd just seeing them on the screen.

As I mentioned in a previous post, just not feeling the "love" here.

BTW, they still don't know why I got connected to a line other than the person I was calling last week.  It should have rung at the extension I correctly dialed.  They were surprised by that, especially as it never should have happened.  Don't know if they will ever figure out what happened with that call, but it pretty much describes the lack of communication I have encountered throughout this process.

Again, thank you to all the nice GCT/OAT travelers who took the time to read the posts, and especially to those who took the time to write a reply.  Perhaps we'll meet on a non-GCT/OAT trip in the not-too-distant future.

Take care, everyone, and safe trips to all, no matter what travel company you use.

 

 

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

July 17, 2013

Thanks for letting us know your decision to cancel the Chile and Argentina trip but if you're at the stage of needing a knee replacement within a few months, you'll be better off  waiting for that trip, no matter what company you choose.

I learned three weeks before my C/A trip that I needed a replacement and went anyway. I did have some problems with stairs and hills, but overall loved both countries. I squeezed one more trip in before my surgery (Ireland, thinking it was flat) but would have been better off waiting. I met a few travelers on that trip who'd had replacements and it was encouraging that they were doing so well.

You probably know people who have gone through it (we are many) so know that having an excellent surgeon and doing the rehab is the key. Also -- exercise as much as you can now.

Good luck and happy travels

Author: newlad56

Joined: 7/8/2013
Posts: 7
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Malta, Belize, Mexico, Bahamas, the Dutch ABC islands, St Maarten, Canada, China (with GCT in 2009), Croatia/Slovenia in May 2012 (GCT).

Traveler Since: 2009

July 24, 2013

The knee replacement issue arose after the initial booking of the Chile/Argentina trip.  Wasn't particularly concerned about it in relation to the trip.  But as "treatment" progressed (mainly injections), I became more and more concerned about the potential for disrupting the trip.  While the Orthovisc injections have virtually eliminated the pain, except at night (another issue), there is no guarantee that I will remain pain-free through October.  As GCT was invoking its procedures and seemingly unable or unwilling to address the communications issues, I became more and more concerned about leaving the trip early for medical treatment (that happened to a friend of mine on the same trip about three years ago.).  With no "love" from GCT, it became much easier to "pull the plug" on the trip.

After cancelling the GCT trip, I did some searching for other companies that offer South American trips.  I have found another company which does Chile/Argentina for about 70% of the GCT/OAT cost.  The itinerary (14 days) is more to my liking, as it spends three days in the Mendoza (wine country) region of Argentina.  I will get to Chile/Argentina; just won't be with GCT, and it will be in 2014.

My thanks to everyone who followed this topic. I especially appreciate those who took the time and trouble to comment. 

Safe travels to all.

 

 

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