Half-Price Tours Maimi Misrepresented themselves/tour, would not refund Miami Florida
Back in January my boyfriend and I made the unfortunate mistake of booking not one, but two tours through Half-Price Tours in Miami. Our problems started the night before our tour bus for Key West was set to depart. I will preface this by pointing out that in reading the fine print, I do understand that we made a mistake in not calling to confirm 24 hours in advance, but that does not excuse the vulgar, chaotic treatment we received from Half-Price Tours staff. The night before our tour bus was set to leave, around 8 pm we called Half-Price Tours to confirm our pick-up location the for following morning. My boyfriend asked where their main location was and confirmed with the staff member that it was the Holiday inn located in Biscayne Bay. He then proceeded to ask if this was the location we were to be picked up in the morning, and the woman assured him that the bus would be at the Holiday Inn in Biscayne Bay at 7:00am. She asked for no further details about us or our trip, and in our naivety we assumed this was our “confirmation”.
The next morning we made sure to travel to the Holiday Inn (since we were not staying there), leaving us plenty of time to catch the bus. We arrived at the Holiday Inn around 6:30am and took a seat on the bench out front. I decided to call Half-Price Tours again just to confirm that we were, in fact, in the correct location. The woman on the phone told me, “Yes, the bus will be there around 7:15 am”. Okay, great. We started seeing other tour busses roll up around 7:00 am, these were not our tour bus. Around 7:25 am we decided to call Half-Price again since we had started to see that a majority of the other busses had left, but we had yet to see our bus. The woman on the phone told us that the bus driver was running late but that he would be there and to give him another 10 minutes. 10 minutes go by, still no bus. Around 7:35 we called Half-Price yet again, we are again assured that our bus is on the way. By 7:50 am we had not seen a bus stop for quite some time, so we called Half-Price tours again. This time my boyfriend is told that they had trouble finding a driver for the bus, but that they were working on it and they would be at the Holiday Inn. Okay……8:10am, still no bus, at this point in time if we did not catch our bus we had no way to get to Key West where we had already booked and paid for a hotel for that night. I decided to call Half-Price again, as I wanted to know for sure where our bus was and why it had not picked us up. This time the woman,” Sandra” (or at least someone using the name Sandra), told me that our bus had already left. What!!!??? I explain to her that we had been sitting at the Holiday Inn since 6:30am, and there is no way we had missed our bus and asked that she call the bus and have them stop and pick us up since they NEVER STOPPED AT THE HOLIDAY INN as we had been told. She said she couldn’t do that and there was nothing she could do. At this point I was pretty baffled and panicked that we just wasted our money and had no way to get to Key West. I explained again that we had been there since 6:30am and pleaded with her to please help us, to this she replied “I know you’ve been there since 6:30am, because you keep calling me and waking me up!” and hung up on me. Excuse me!? I, a paying customer that was assured my bus would be picking us up disturbed your sleep? Seriously? My boyfriend decided to call back yet again so that we could figure out what to do, at this point we were more worried about being able to even get to Key West than the money we would lose out on. The woman, Vicky, who he was speaking with, finally agreed to call the bus driver after he pled with her to try and help us in some way. Vicky called us back and told us that the bus driver was near Florida City, roughly 40 miles away, where he would have a break at the McDonald’s. Okay. We told Vicky that we would hop in a cab and meet him there, but we ask her to PLEASE get him to wait for us as the bus never came to get us. We hopped in the cab and Sandra called us back. “Sandra” told us that the bus was at the Holiday Inn, confused we had the cab driver turn back around. Wait, the bus still was not there! It was at this point that Sandra told us we never confirmed our booking so the bus never stopped at the Holiday Inn. I assured her that we did call the night before and that we were told to be at the Holiday Inn, to which she replied, “Do you have a confirmation number?” No, we did not have a confirmation number because we were never asked for that. Sandra replied that “we did not confirm 24 hours in advance”. Okay, you’re correct, we did not confirm 24 hours in advance, but we did call the night before and were told that the bus would pick us up at the Holiday Inn in Biscayne Bay. We also were repeatedly told that the bus was on its way. My question for Half-Price Tours is that if we made a mistake why weren’t we informed that? Why were we assured that the bus was coming? Had we been told the night before that we did not confirm with enough time, we could have made alternate arrangements to get to Key West. But no, we were told multiple times (and multiple lies) that our bus was going to pick us up at the Holiday Inn. At the same point that my boyfriend was on my phone with Sandra, Vicky called his phone back. Since my boyfriend was on the line with Sandra, who was telling him that the bus was at the Holiday in, I answered his phone and spoke with Vicky. Vicky tells me she spoke with the bus driver again and that we should meet him in Florida City, after some pressure I managed to get the phone number of the bus driver from Vicky. I spoke briefly with the bus driver (I can’t remember his name) and he agreed that he would wait for us as long as possible in Florida City. I thanked him and we had our cab driver turn around once again to drive us 40 miles to Florida City to meet the bus.
I will stress here that we had absolutely no problem with the bus driver, if fact, he was very understanding. When speaking with him on the phone he was sympathetic and even called me back a few times to see what mile marker we were at. After the mess and terrible customer service we had received throughout the morning he was a big relief! 40+ mile and a $100+ cab ride later, we saw our bus, with our bus driver waving his hands at the corner to make sure we could see him. We paid the cab driver over a $100 fare, and got on the bus. The bus ride the rest of the way was pleasant, and the bus driver was humorous. Towards the end of our trip the bus driver asked us if we would like to be dropped off at our hotel, even though we didn’t expect to be. Finally, a decent person that worked for Half-Price Tours! Before he dropped us off at our hotel he told us exactly where and when he would pick us up the following day and told us to call him with any questions.
After the fiasco that morning we decided to call Half-Price again, because like I mentioned earlier we had booked another tour through them as well, this time we called to confirm our parasailing trip in Key West. My boyfriend once again spoke to Vicky, she gave us the option of either going that same day, or booking for the following day since she couldn’t confirm whether or not the parasailing tour company would be running that day due to the weather. We agreed to book for the following day since we did not want to lose out on our money if, in fact, the company was not doing the parasailing the current day. All seemed well until Vicky mentioned, “this is only good for one person”. No, wrong! The description of the parasailing tour stated it was for “up to 2 people per lift”. This means the trip is good for 2 people; yes, one person could go alone if they so chose, but the parasailing lift up can be used for UP TO TWO PEOPLE. Vicky disputed this and told us, “no, it means up to 2 people, not that it IS for two people”. We refused to believe this as it was completely asinine! When I mentioned that the tour company itself, had we booked through them was actually cheaper, she still did not care. She said we would have to purchase two tickets for “up to two people” for $75 each (that’s $150) to be able to go together on the parasailing tour. No, no, no, no, no. Just no. Vicky clearly just wanted to get rid of us at this point and asked if we just wanted to cancel to parasailing tour. We answered with a resounding, “YES!” Vicky said she couldn’t confirm our refund over the phone (What!?), but that the trip would be refunded to my boyfriend’s credit card. Fine. We ended up booking our parasailing trip directly through the tour company (Fury), and ended up paying $80 for both of us to go up (this would have been cheaper had we booked in advance) and had a lovely time no thanks to Half-Price Tours.
When we got back to Miami we were relieved to be free of Half-Price Tours, but on our second to last day in South Beach a white, bald man working for Half-Price Tours rode by on a segway. We decided to indulge him and asked where the main office was as we would have liked to have spoken with the owner and ensured that our parasailing trip was refunded. We told him our story and he ensured us that he was the owner of Half-Price Tours and that if Vicky said she refunded our trip, it was refunded. He took down our phone number and promised to call us later that evening to talk about our negative experience and be certain we got our refund. Surprise! He never called.
The next day, our last day in Miami, we decided to venture out and attempt to find the main Half-Price tours office. We saw a Half-Price Tours outlet with a man standing in the doorway, we explained our situation and he was actually very nice (shocking!). I didn’t catch his name either, but he was very well-dressed and wearing shades. He directed us to the main office and told us he was really sorry we had such a bad experience.
We made our way to the main office where we weren’t exactly greeted with courtesy or respect. We once again explained our entire situation with the bus, the confirmation, the parasailing, but no one seemed to care. We were urged to write down incident reports, as they do not give refunds. Even though we were told that our parasailing trip would be refunded, it was not, and they had no intention of doing so. Lucky for us Sandra and Vicky were working at the main office that day. Vicky told us that maybe we didn’t understand English, because the parasailing tour was in fact only for one person, since if stated it was for “up to 2 people per lift”. Ummmm……..After some arguing Vicky yelled in Spanish something to the effect of refusing to deal with us anymore and Sandra took over. Finally, Sandra got the owner on the phone and VERY RELUCTANTLY we got our parasailing trip refunded. Though we lodged a complaint about the Key West tour bus as well, we received no retribution on that. Basically, we just ate $260 to get to Key West. So it goes. They did offer us a free 30 minute segway tour in lieu of a refund, but I refused as I really didn’t want to ever deal with them again and somehow we’d probably end up paying for that as well.