Consumer Complaints and Reviews
Actually we were joined to other groups in Greece and in Istanbul and as a result it was not a firm tour at all.
Greece: We had a very good guide in Greece - Andrew. Andrew is very knowledgeable, polite person. All excursions were very interesting, with a lot of information about country, history, locations and particular places and, what is also important, about food. Unfortunately hotel in Greece was not good - too noisy (in train station area), with rude staff.
Istanbul: Hotel, Askos (for which we paid extra $60 for three nights), was good. People in Istanbul who were in charge to meet us and organize us were polite and good. Excursion in Istanbul was poorly organized by GLAVS TRAVEL (not Turkey side). We had two and half days in Istanbul but only half a day on 10/11/2015 (from 9am to 2:30pm) was excursion. We did not get a sightseeing trip in Istanbul at all, no any information about country, city, culture, history etc. But we got a night Bosporus cruise with dinner of somebody’s taste and entertainment - belly dancing. This type of attraction has to be suggested for people with the special interests for extra money. So instead of Bosporus day sightseeing cruise and excursion we got a night Bosporus cruise with not delicious dinner and cheap entertainment, which we did not order and which did not help us to learn anything about the beautiful city of Istanbul.
This Bosporus night cruise was an official part of excursion, but the most world’s famous attractions - museum Hia Sofia, museum Topkapi and others were not included in our tour at all. It looks like we crossed the Atlantic ocean and went to Istanbul to get a dinner in darkness of a small ship with oriental dancing. And this is in the city like Istanbul with so many attractions and many historical places. It’s pity that this beautiful city (Istanbul) will always remind us the badly organized Glavs Travel’s trip.
After reading all those negative reviews, I had to write my review about my trip to Spain. I booked 10 days "Classic Spain" tour with Glavs Travel and I can't say a single negative word. Everything was very well organized, hotels were very clean and program of the tour was very informative. I don't understand all the negative reviews. I want to say personal "THANK YOU" to our guide, Alex, and travel agent, Arkadi (from Manhattan) office. Alex is just amazing - he really knows his staff and every single excursion he provided us with so much information about location. Arkadi was in charge of booking our trip and everything was well organized and all my questions were answered promptly - either by phone or email. Overall, our trip was great!! Thank you, GLAVS TRAVEL
It was a horrible experience! This agency doesn't know what customer service is. I booked a New Year's NY city tour and spoke to the agent 3 times. I asked where, when and what we were going to see, also if we were going to have lunch, and she said, "Yes in Seaport, there will be lunch." But I guess she forgot to say it was not included in price ($75). So when I called back to complain about that and also about collecting tips in the bus before tour (it was like a reminder all the time - let's get $2 each!), Agent ** said that I was a liar and she didn't care what review I would write and hung up on me. Then I called back to talk to someone else and he said, "No comments." That's the customer service I got in this company. I hope my review will help to choose another travel agency!
In February, we have booked a 12-day trip called "A Mission to Israel". The itinerary seemed interesting and exciting. I have e-mailed many questions to Glavs Travel and their Chicago affiliate Travel Selections. I was put in contact directly with Arkadi from Glavs travel. The company in Chicago, Travel Selections, was polite and professional, but forwarded all questions and issues to Glavs Travel. I am assuming they have never planned this type of trip before and were just a reseller.
The tickets that were offered by the travel agency and the insurance were much higher priced than on the Web. We decided to buy tickets on our own. The person from Glavs was very rude and sarcastic when I was speaking to him. Since this was a Bar Mitzvah trip for my daughter, I did not want to ruin our plans and put down a deposit for 2 people. Note: No discounts were provided for the Bar Mitzvah child either (surprising from a company on a mission to Israel!). Most established companies provide detailed information and provide special offers.
My requests about the exact itinerary and dates were not answered until the last week before travel. An itinerary was e-mailed out with a request for all questions to contact Travellux (the company that was performing the trip abroad in Israel). In addition, all names of everyone attending were e-mailed to everyone. I thought that travel rules had to follow privacy laws. I did not feel comfortable that my information was shared via Internet with a bunch of strangers. We decided to fly in a day early and were quoted a much higher per night charges from Glavs than from the hotel. Also, the quote for getting to the hotel was much higher (cheaper to get a cab at the airport, we were told).
Again, we booked it ourselves. After using my research skills and contacting my friends in the media, I was able to find out that the hotel "Grand Beach" in Tel Aviv had very bad reviews and accusations of theft a few months ago. I also found out that Glavs Travel had several official complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and other complaint sights. I forwarded this info to Travel Selections, who in turn passed it along to Glavs Travel. The shocking response from Glavs was, "What is your problem? This was a long time ago and the hotel has been renovated."
With only a day before the trip, we decided to go anyway and hope that everything has changed since. We were happy not to have to deal with the rude person from Glavs Travel. He obviously failed his PR course and has no desire to deal with customers. Waste of time, money and sickness resulted from this trip. More details available per request. We had a very pleasant flight and only a short stop over between the flights. Our trip seemed perfect. We got to the hotel easily and were happy to see a beautiful lobby and a pleasant person at the front desk.
We asked for our bags to be carried to the room and patiently waited. After about 20 minutes we were assigned a room, but no one was around to bring our bags upstairs. We took the bags ourselves to the elevator, only to realize the elevators were so small that it could only fit one person and a suitcase (or 2 people with no suitcase, or 3 kids, etc.) Old and tiny elevators were slowly moving up to our room we hoped we would not get stuck. As we approached our floor we walked out and the hallways stunk with smoke.
We opened our room and realized that there was only one bedroom, 2 small beds bunched together (hardly a twin size for each). The closet was only big enough to fit a few jackets and we had to keep all of our suitcases in the middle of room. We had to go up and down the elevator several times to take our suitcases into the room. We were tired and hungry. When we walked up to the cafeteria (not quite a restaurant), we were told that we did not pay for dinner and could not eat there. The price of the meal was $45 per person. It would have been nice to know in advance. The cafeteria seemed roomy and nice with a nice decoration on the wall. The tables were a bit old and it really did not look like a restaurant. We asked at the front desk where we can go to eat and walked a few blocks to a coffee house where we had a meal and drinks for under $15 for 2 people. It was very nice and the people were friendly.
We went back to the lobby and asked for a bigger room, but were told all rooms are the same size. Strange how the Internet states that there are single, double and triple rooms in this hotel. We went to sleep and were ready to start our vacation. (The rest of the group was due to arrive the next day). It was also unbelievable that there was no clock in the room (the only hotel in the world probably). So we had no idea about what time it was, since our chargers did not work and the hotel did not have a converter available (asked us to check again in the morning to use a converter) we could not charge our cell phones and use our alarm clock. The night was long since the beds were extremely small and when you would move you either hit the wall or the person on the other bed! I could not believe that some people on this tour would be strangers and would have to share a tiny room with one bed!The rest of the group arrived at 8:00 pm with the tour guide. I approached the tour guide several times, but he seemed to be in a hurry to get out and asked me to talk to a gentleman he pointed at in the hotel if I had questions. When I approached this person, he said he only works for the hotel and does not have any details about our tour. Remember how Glavs Travel asked me to talk to the tour guide if I had questions, Bar Mitzvah ceremony plans, location questions, media information, definitely no interest to be helpful. This counted as Day 1 and Day 2 of our tour (sound like a travel days to me).
Remember our charger/converter, this time we were told someone stole it and it was not available and we’re sent to walk to an ACE hardware store in the middle of the night! This is not a 3 star hotel, no way! We had to be on the bus at 8:30 am sharp.
We made an effort to be prompt. The guide seemed very bossy and aggressive as people were getting on the bus. An older couple who was 2 minutes late got scolded. Their reply was, “No one spoke to us like that since we immigrated from the Soviet years ago.” He screamed at everyone for giving his phone number to his relatives and said he will not give anyone directions to the hotel or information on our itinerary or speak to anyone on the phone. Strangely enough, Glavs Travel told everyone to contact him and gave us his number to give to our families.
The bus was not a typical tour bus. The seats were much smaller than regular with very sharp handles sticking out between the seats. There were no bathrooms on the bus. The bus had a very steep step in the back and since most of the tourists were older and handicapped, it would have been nice to have accommodations for them. This was the first tour guide ever to never help someone off the bus, young or old. The introduction of the guide went something like this: “You are not here on vacation, we have hard work to do, I expect everyone to be quite when I speak. You are all Galut.” Everyone already had a bad vibe from him in the first 10 minutes. This military style mentality had no place with older people and kids. He kept rolling his eyes and talking down to anyone who had a question with phrases like, “You people from America only think about how much things cost. Our kids are all in the army, only retards stay behind, not like in your country.” He also had to make a point to look at our kids.
Our tour of Tel Aviv was just a ride on the bus, no detailed tour. Our guide was not walking, he was galloping through all the streets in Jaffo (which has ancient streets full of rocks and stairs). Half the people fell behind and he did not seem to care. He yelled at people for taking pictures while he was talking and did not allow time for people to relax. He acted like this was the last place he wanted to be and obviously was prejudiced against Jewish Americans. Some mission this started out to be! Initially, we asked Travel Selection and Glavs Travel about the type of people on the tour. We were told it was different ages. We were not told that 70% of the tourists were over 65 and had major physical and mental handicaps.
Our guide had no compassion for anyone of any age. After a while, people started complaining about having to use the bathroom because bathroom breaks were also not part of our work schedule. People on the bus started fighting over seats (which by the way were not assigned, but we were told by Glavs Travel to book early and get better seats). Great sales pitch and a lie! This time we left even earlier 8:00 am. Again, frustrations about timing and seating on the bus. This time we kept reminding him to make bathroom breaks. Older people were seriously intimidated by this guy and afraid to speak up. The bus started to smell like urine, since I am sure no one could hold it in this long!
Acco was absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, but we had to gallop through this ancient city just like the other city prior to this! When I asked to stop by a store, I was once again yelled at and told, “You only care about the shopping.” Actually this was a unique Dreidel Shop that was one of a kind. Unfortunately, we never got even 5 minutes to shop there because our guide did not include it in the work schedule. After the tour, our older tourists were scared to use the bathrooms at the Knesset because they were going to get yelled at by the guide. It was a sad site to see ladies over 65 buckle up their pants while running up the stairs at the Knesset! This is not a labor camp, it’s a vacation. When another lady took a few extra minutes in the ladies room, the rest of the older ladies started screaming at her and telling her the bus is going to leave without her. When I assured them that it would be okay, they started swearing at me and saying things only someone with over-stressed and exhausted would say! We were not told this was a tour for mentally challenged older people!
The next stop was the tree planting. Our guide told us that we would get a number and certificate and future generations would be able to see where our tree was planted. As we approached the tree planting site, we felt that these trees are sacred. This was the reason we were meant to be here. Sadly, this was ruined for us as well. Once we were at the site, we waited about 40 minutes for someone to let us in. People were tired and again based on age the bathroom issue was a problem people were complaining. No bathroom stop was made and we went directly to plant the trees. I took my time and was the last one on the bus, but I only planted one tree.
Then we were given 2 versions of the certificates, one in English and the other in Russian. The English version was very beautiful. The Russian version was just on a simple paper with inaccurate translations. The English and Russian version Torah portions did not correspond! When my daughter asked for her own certificate, she was told she would not get one. I came out of the bus and asked the Israeli person handing out the certificates for one for my daughter. The certificates did not have any numbers of the tree (as we were promised before the trip) or the map. It was just a generic paper with a blank line for a person’s name. Seems like they just take the trees out and have the next set of tourists pay them the $10 for the planting. I will definitely contact the agency that sponsors the tree planting and let them know about this!
Glavs Travel, what is the number of the trees we planted? How much did you really charge us for each tree? Can you send us a map for each tree? We send you real checks, we need real certificates! We were told that Eilat is about a 3-4 hour drive. We were told that more people will be joining us, 52 out of 53 seats in the bus will be taken. We were told to get our seats early. We were not told that we will be stopping in 4 different cities and picking people up at not only hotels, but local citizens. We were stuffed like sardines! Several local young girls getting on the bus paid for 2 seats, but no 2 seats were available together. When they complained, our guide yelled at them and told them to get out of the bus if they did not like it and one of them ended up crying for several hours. She had to call her mother to sort stuff out. Luckily, someone from our group got out to visit relatives and the girls could sit together. Again, we had to remind the guide to make bathroom stops! Human needs were definitely not part of his training at Travellux! How do you pick your guides?
This time we stopped at a paid bathroom (1 shekel). I had several coins that I gave away, but no one was there to give change. When I dropped the coin in, the door was jammed! It took 20 minutes for someone to figure it out and get people change. The older people never got out of the bus, no coins and plenty of disposable underwear! After 9 long hours, we finally got to Eilat, incredible lie! It only takes 45 minutes to fly there and all other tour groups fly! What is going on with this planning? Looks like Day 9 of our trip is gone. How are you planning on addressing this issue Glavs Travel? Oh, remember the Ahava outlet we were taken to before? Well, I am sure Glavs and Travellux knew that in Eilat, all Ahava products were 1/3 of the price and there are no taxes in Eilat. Why were we forced to spend our hard earned money at the outlet? Perhaps Travellux or our guide was getting a kickback from the sale. That is the only explanation. Normally, tour operators tell you about the tourist traps and how to avoid them!
Last Day: Everyone from our group was lying on the couches in the lobby, sad, hungry and in pain! The older people started to have back problems, kidney problems, pain in their legs and other issues because they did not have a place to stay all day! My daughter felt sick and really needed a place to relax for a few hours. We had dinner and I asked the hotel representative how much it would cost to get a room for a few hours. The reply was $50 per hour. When I asked about an empty room I was told that none were available!
Even the attendant at the front desk was shocked at this inhumane treatment from our tour! This says lawsuit! Can you imagine how many people got sick that day? Keep reading because this is only the beginning! By the end of the evening everyone in our group young and old, healthy and sick, Jewish and non-Jewish, everyone swore that they would do something about the horrible lies that Glavs Travel have told them about the trip and the false advertising of this trip as a mission. This should never happen again. Why would you do this to your own people? Older people? Children? (Note, a daily description of all the events that took place is available. I will be happy to send this over to you!)
We got to the airport around 2 am, a whole six hours before our flight to the USA. We were thrown out of the bus, and were told the airport is working. We were not told anything about the process and the huge lines! It took about 1 hour to get through the lines. We had to lift heavy suitcases, since no one was there to help! We finally got to an area where we could sit, but it was packed and only a few seats were available. My daughter slept for a while leaning on a cafeteria table. She obviously felt sick and exhausted from this horrible trip. But we were the lucky ones. The other passengers did not have an outbound flight until 12:30 pm the next day. That’s 24 hours with no place to stay.
These older people probably ended up with permanent damage to their back and legs! I especially worried about the woman with the kidney attack from the night before. Did she make it home okay? To add to our frustration, immediately after the trip, my daughter was really sick. I started to feel sick as well only to find out that I have a stress related rash that is in the chickenpox family this can be fatal for an adult. This is not a virus, but is a result of stress on the nervous system. How could I have gotten it? How about by sleeping on the bus, the airport and the stress of this trip! Please help me address this since I have tried to reach out to Travel Selection and Glavs Travel of over 1 year!
Horrible service! Well, I should say no service at all. They just have no idea what that is. I ordered a tour and was told that it begins at 10 am. I bought airplane tickets and booked a night in a hotel to find out later that the tour leaves an hour and 15 minutes earlier! Now, I might not be able to make it on time there. When I called to figure out what we could do about this, the manager just yelled at me.
He didn't want to listen. He was constantly interrupting me with "We could not have told you that," "Check our website for schedule," and "What am I supposed to do, fire the girl who told you that?" No apologies for the mistake they made. He was actually in denial and was insisting that it was my fault. This is the worst customer service I ever had experienced in this country. It's a rude Soviet Union place. Very bad experience. Do not go there!
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When we arrived to the hotel we noticed that this hotel is a shamble on the outside, but we were hopping that the room inside would change the image and subside our anxieties. Our hope was not formalized. When we walked into the elevator to go to our room on the fifth floor, we realized that we were in big trouble. The idea of returning back home came to my mind. When we opened the door into the room we were blasted by a foul odor of sweat, mold and urine.
At this point we made a decision to go out and look for another hotel. When we informed the front desk clerk of our intention, he suggested that we check their new, just remodeled rooms. We did and under the circumstances, found them acceptable. It appears that the hotel was undergoing remodeling and some of the floors did have some decent rooms.
We were told that in order for us to be relocated to these rooms, we would have to pay an additional $240.00
Considering the groups arrangement and bus scheduling, we decided to accept the charges and move in to a more or less livable environment. The newly renovated rooms on some of the floors still do not make the hotel four-star rated, because the rest of the facilities were smelly and dirty. Out of three tiny elevators only two were functional. This unfortunate incident caused us a lot of grief, stresses, and anxieties. This is not acceptable when one is on vacation or on a business trip. I strongly suggest that in the future, Glavs Travel provides better services, pays more attention to details of accommodation and honestly informs its customers.
Take in consideration that on June 18, 2006 in Philadelphia the outside temperature was 93F, but it was higher inside a van. Among of passengers was a senior citizen, who didn't feel herself good and was suffering the most. A half of the passengers were older then 55 y.o.
That trip was a nightmare for all passengers.
We want our money back.
Our schedule was changed, because "bus" did not have a proper license plate to stay in a designated area for tour buses. Kids were sick and throw up several times because of a luck of fresh air.
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