Travel Magazine

The Failure of Travel (A Harsh Look at Cheating Practices by Travel Operators)

By Raghavmodi @raghavmodi
There is always a limit. Unfortunately, due to the atrocious service provided by SOTC (part of Kuoni India which in term is part of Kuoni International) that very limit has been crossed.
I fail to understand why travel companies/agents work under the belief that they can dictate people's choices? I fail to understand how multinational travel companies like Kuoni can employ obnoxious employees like Mr. Tarun Chand, about whom you will read below, when clearly they are in a service industry and one that usually should elicit happiness and not frustration and anger.
It was never my intention to use my blog to complain about companies or services. I have always put forth my honest reviews, but after having such a bad experience with SOTC I felt it necessary to blog about it just so others could be forewarned and do not make the mistake of handling over money to them.
CASE IN POINTMy sister and a friend of hers booked a trip with SOTC for South Africa. An initial booking amount of Rs, 15,000/- was duly paid along with Rs. 1000,- extra on the request of one Mr. Tarun Chand on the pretext that if the program was cancelled, the entire amount of Rs. 15,000,- would be refunded, no questions asked.
As luck would have it, the program did get cancelled. After initial persistence of Mr. Tarun Chand to change the program to a latter date or change the traveling persons did not work out, my sister eventually requested for the refund of Rs. 15,000/-
After about 7-10 days when she called Mr. Tarun Chand, there was an apparent change in his tone. He was rude and said "why have you called me again? Don't call me before a month". Now, obviously he was trying to be cunning and buying time so the departure date of the trip would pass and as a result we would have to forgo the entire amount. When my sister requested for the money he simply said "You know if I want I don’t have to give you the money back and you cannot do anything about it." My sister in return said "you cannot do that since we specially paid extra", to which he replied "try and take the money back now" and hung up the phone.
So, as a result here I am writing a blog, tweeting about this episode and contacting Kuoni internationally, emailing country heads who have yet to reply back, and in a nutshell wasting time and money simply because we trusted SOTC and Kuoni.

THINK What companies like Kuoni do not realize is that at the end of the day Mr. Tarun Chand will still get his monthly salary and make merry since us getting angry will make no difference to his life. But, here is a list of things that Kuoni as a company will loose out on;

My Sister and the remainder of my family travel a lot. A lot. Obviously neither are we ever going to use Kuoni, nor are we ever going to recommend it to anyone. Furthermore, if anything, we will discourage our friends and extended family from using services of Kuoni/SOTC, as I am discouraging you now.
It might come as a surprise to Kuoni but our business uses their services as well, and while I blog about my experience an internal memo has already been sent barring any employee of our companies to use the services of Kuoni or SOTC.
It's also quite obvious that when Mr. Tarun Chand, who obviously has no respect for women let alone any knowledge of customer service, told my sister that she should try and get her money back, he was not aware that there was travel blogger in the house and by doing so he not only compelled me to write the piece but as a result has tainted the reputation of the company ten fold. All for a mere Rs. 15,000,-
WHY?Now, the questions boils down not to just Rs. 15000,- each for the two travelers, but on to the ethics. Do travel agencies really think that by cheating customers for a mere amount of Rs. 15,000/- is good for business? Traveling has long been a joyous affair, one that agencies should make sure their customers enjoy. Had SOTC refunded the money, no questions asked, as they initially promised, I can guarantee you that they would have benefited eventually through us with repeated business. Now, not only will they have to refund the money eventually, but they loose out on important business as well.
I sincerely hope that this post acts as a wake-up call for agencies and especially SOTC/Kuoni who spend enormous amounts of money on advertisements, but fail to teach their employees simple manners and proper customer service. It also shows poorly on a company of their international status to stoop to a level where they have to cheat customers over Rs. 15,000,-. Are times really this hard?
As the case stands, I would warn you of trusting agencies like this who sweet talk you when you plan your dream holiday, but change their attitude once you hand over the money to them. BEWARE and don't make the same mistake we made. 

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