Gecko Trail Adventures . . .
Replies: 30 - Last Post: Jun 6, 2012 7:45 AM Last Post By: cybergal
May 31, 2012 5:42 AM
Gecko Trail Adventures . . .have been recommended a few times on this branch but they have a very odd business practice which tey don't make clear on their website.
If you want to book a transfer, tour etc you have to pay at the time of booking - fair enough.
Only after you have paid will they tell you that the tours or transport isn't operating - because of insufficient demand. Again, fair enough.
However they don't refund what you've paid. They say that you can either have your money back less a 5% admin fee or you have to pay extra to ensure the tour or transport operates.
Does anyone else think that this verges on a scam?
Why don't they simply allow you to book and then, when they know that the tour or transport is definitely operating, debit your card then?
May 31, 2012 6:14 AM
1of course this is a scam! "5% admin fee" is ridiculous!
i have heard good things about this tour agency, but if this is their practice, forget it.
this is from their website: "...For near dated or last minute bookings, please check availability first as bank fees are not refundable in case there is no space on the service requested...."
so you are saying, cybergal, that you can't check availability without actually booking and paying for the activity?
Edited by: wiremu
May 31, 2012 6:21 AM
2so you are saying, cybergal, that you can't check availability without actually booking and paying for the activity?
Not online you can't. I guess I could 'phone them in Costa Rica each time but from the UK that would be pretty expensive.
May 31, 2012 6:31 AM
3Well I would at least email them, if you cant Skype them.
They have good reputation on this forum, the last complaint was a poster that flight cancelled and or was late and they arrived a day late, and they had prepaid for the transfer but now had to reschudule it, but Gecko charged then 100% for the old reservation. I think the managers name is Nina there, giver her a jingle or email, they are very responsive.
I suspect the 5% is to cover the transaction fee a merchant is charged by their bank in CR, its much higher in CR than in the States/EU, which is 1-2%.
But I agree, why waste everyones time to only be told it is not possible, they need to have a reservation system to first confirm, then they charge the client.
May 31, 2012 7:04 AM
4why waste everyones time to only be told it is not possible, they need to have a reservation system to first confirm, then they charge the client
That's my point. They had my card details, they could have waited until they knew the tour/transport was running (they've done it twice, both times I ws under the impression that I was 'booking' something, not merely checking availability) and debited my card then. That way there would be no need for refunds.
When I asked why they charged before knowing that the tour was operating they said that they had to pay their suppliers in advance . . . but suppliers of what if the tour/transport isn't running?
May 31, 2012 7:17 AM
5I agree. I think this agency is partly owned by Colin, who owns Kayas Place, and also is a linked to the Pt Viejo website we all use for the area. He is a good guy and used to be on here a lot in the past. Send them a note, your point and complaint is valid.
Sometimes, a Ticos (manager) reasoning for things, like most of the region, makes little sense, and is part of the way "things are done", leaving you scratching your head, or worse...
Hang in there..
May 31, 2012 7:54 AM
6this is not an acceptable business practice no matter where you are or who is associated with this business. there is NO WAY a tour agency should charge you full price and debit your card before you even know whether the activity is available or not -- and -- to force you to pay the "administrative fee" is ridiculous.
i would definitely follow this up - either by email or skype telephone. try email first and then if no response, follow up by skype telephone.
May 31, 2012 4:12 PM
I am Colin and was the owner of Gecko Trails. I do not own Kayas Place. I own Banana Azul Hotel. We still partner with Gecko Trails and our guests are happy with the service they provide.
I do not understand this policy, so I have sent the link to the owner, Nina, for her to better explain.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Cheers, Colin.
May 31, 2012 5:05 PM
Jun 1, 2012 1:58 AM
The latest email I have from Gecko says that they will run the tour I thought I'd already booked - if I give them another $15. It's not a lot of money, I appreciate, but it's the way it was done that I found unacceptable. If you're not operating a tour, you (Gecko) shouldn't be taking my money.
Jun 1, 2012 6:17 AM
I am Nina, the owner from Gecko Trail Adventures. I have reviewed this clients booking. First of all, I would like to correct that the 3 - 5% are not admin but bank fees. This is the commission the Costa Rican bank charges us for every transaction and which we usually eat resp. pay out of our commission. In the case of a refund the bank does not refund their part. This is very unfortune and we are not happy about this. However, there is not much we can do about it since this is their rules. That's why each client has to agree to our terms and conditions before paying. One of the conditions says clearly:
Any cancellation is subject to a 3 to 5% fee, depending on the payment type, to cover bank charges. Or we will be happy to apply your payment to another service.
So I don't think it is fair to call this a scam as we do inform our clients about this BEFORE they pay.
In regards to making payment before we confirm a booking, this is correct. We do request payment before we confirm a tour. Nevertheless, this does not mean that a client cannot first inquiry about availability. You can send an online reservation request whether you pay or not. At no point you're forced to pay unless you decide to do. Especially for single travellers it is wise to inquire first since most tours operate with a minimum of 2 persons.
As I already explained to this client, at no point we charged her credit or debit card. It is always an action which the client has to take as we do not have access to their credit card details. Since she is only going to be one person for the tour, we have offered her to do the tour on her own for an extra $15, which covers nothing else than the transportation part, which normally would be shared between two persons.
I hope this clears the doubts. In case not, pleas feel free to write me a message or post here.
Jun 1, 2012 6:26 AM
11Any cancellation is subject to a 3 to 5% fee, depending on the payment type, to cover bank charges. Or we will be happy to apply your payment to another service
But it's not a cancellation. I haven't chosen to cancel anything. You have chosen not to run the tour or the transportation I thought I'd booked.
And your agent told me I did have to pay in advance. Because you pay your suppliers in advance. I questioned what you bave to pay your suppliers in advance for when a tour or transport does not operate, as I find that a non-credible answer and I have had no reply.
Since she is only going to be one person for the tour, we have offered her to do the tour on her own for an extra $15
Yes, that's what I said above. I booked a tour (or thought I had) costing X and only afterwards am I told that it will not run unless I pay another 30%. You should be upfront about these 'extras'.
Jun 1, 2012 6:47 AM
That is not acceptable. The client did not cancel anything, they booked a tour, only to find out it was not running, then you canceled it, not the client, but the client incurred the bank charge. You should incur the bank charge, not the client, maybe that is incentive for your agency to not charge a client, until the tour is approved and confirmed.
As for the additional charge due to only one person, that is fine and acceptable, but had you confirmed all the details and fees prior to any booking and charging a credit card, this all could of been avoided, with no hassles, for the client, or the agency and the tour.
You need to confirm tours are operating, before charging a client, to avoid unfair charges and confusion.
Jun 1, 2012 6:53 AM
13i think this is a very helpful and frank discussion. the most helpful thing any business can get is criticism. it gives the business a chance to review procedures, maybe improve their website. the worst thing is for an unhappy customer to say nothing!
i hope this will get resolved for cybergal and that gecko can make a few changes -- it looks like some modifications would be in order -- so that this confusion doesn't arise in the future.
gecko is a good outfit and i wouldn't want to see people stay away because of this kind of situation.
Jun 1, 2012 8:06 AM
14Gecko Trails is a transport, and tour booking agency. In case you have not travelled much, it is very common to book and pay vacation itineraries through a 3rd party. In fact it is usually the norm.
We have worked with Gecko for many years now. As you can see from reviews, people are very happy with the services they provide. They have also grown to 13 employees in a very short period of 4 years. If the majority of people were not happy with their services, I doubt they would be in business. As we all know.. hotels and tour operators can not hide bad service.
I have learned over the years living down here, there are many things you have to do differently from the country you are from to accomodate the system we are working in. Another thing I learned working in the hotel business is "The customer is not always right". We have a whole hotel full of guests to consider... that is own number one objective.
Some customers are just too hard to satisfy under any circumstances. Customers are under no obligation whatsoever to deal with Gecko or any other business. It is obvious you had questions about their policy... You contacted them... they explained... you did not like the answer...so you take it here... again, they explain and not surprisingly you dont like the answer... Are you going to "hold you breath" next?
Listen... there is a very easy solution to this... Just book with someone else.
However, I might warn you... You are travelling in a developing country in Central America. This will most like be only one of the many things that you will experience frustration with. If something as simple as this is going to make you upset, my recommendation is you might want to reconsider if traveling in Costa Rica is a good fit. I know from experience, people who have issues with simple stuff like this do not do well on Caribbean side of the country.
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