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I am a 12 time traveler with Grand Circle and OAT. But maybe no more. They are impossible to reach by phone without waiting for hours. I even tried their emergency phone number and was on hold for hours. What if I had been stranded in a foreign country? They cancelled my Eastern Europe to Black Sea Cruise in Sept 2021 and cited "covid" or "civil unrest" issues. Baloney. They cancelled because they did not sell out the cruise and lied about it to me. I know because I went with Viking during the same month with no excuses like Grand Circle gave me.
Add to that they promised me a $1,000 credit on my next trip- which was to Antarctica in December. The invoice they sent me showed the credit- and 1 month later a new invoice arrived with the credit removed. Why? Another lie? Something is really wrong here with the company now and I would suggest be very careful with bookings as they are not the same company I traveled with for the past 12 years.
I’ve been on 4 OAT trips and have 3 more booked. They have been fine rescheduling me and/or refunding money because of Covid. I have met wonderful and interesting fellow travelers. The tour guides have been excellent and the structure of the trips have been so well balanced with history, scenery, culture, hands on opportunities and free time. I’ve tried other companies and prefer OAT. The accommodations have been much, much better than Rick Steves and the smaller size (16 max) is better too and costs less. The people I’ve met are really great, not pretentious about their money or intellect. Just out to have fun and enjoy the surprises in store. Each trip has offered some very special moments that I doubt you’ll find as a tourist on your own or with another operator.
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Something is going wrong with OAT. They are changing policies on people on the fly. I signed up for a trip to Spain for September, 2020 during the winter of 2019. Due to Covid, the trip was cancelled. I asked for a refund of my $700 deposit, but they said no refund, it would go towards another trip. I was not happy about that, being an advanced age and not knowing when Covid would end, but stuck with it. Today, June 7th, 2021, I tried to sign up for another trip to Spain in May of 2022. But they wanted another $700 deposit. I said that they already had my $700 deposit from the cancelled trip for more than a year now, but they said it was a "credit" on my account and I needed a new $700 deposit. Ridiculous! They want me to cough up another $700 a year in advance of the replacement trip? That would be $1400 of my money they would have and I still don't know if Covid is going to allow travel to Europe a year from now.
And .... I am wondering with all the complaints I am reading about, and with so many others complaining about the same thing happening to them, will this company even be around in another year? Then where would my $1400 be? I am calling my credit card company and hoping to get my original $700 back. No way I am booking with OAT again after this mess. And I'm certainly not giving them another $700 for a trip that may never happen. Beware!
OAT has held our money for two years, and although they promised a full refund at first, minus travel insurance, they changed the deal and just held it as future travel voucher. We really want to have our money back at his time. We were supposed to go to Kenya and Tanzania, and due to Covid, it is not safe to travel there for the foreseeable future. I would NEVER book a trip with this company again.
We signed up for a trip which we paid in full in Oct. 2020, because of covid they canceled the trip. When I asked for my refund they said it would take 90 business days to refund. Suppose to return our funds June 2021... I think that is ridiculous since other tour companies have returned our money immediately. I would never recommend this company for any travel. Very poor that they need to work on our money since last Oct. Thank you!
OAT cancelled my trip without my knowledge and refused to give me a refund. I learned about the cancellation when I received a strange email from their insurance company stating they had changed my travel insurance as requested. Since I had not requested a change to my travel insurance I contacted the insurance company to inquire about their strange email. It took several insurance company personnel to find out that OAT had cancelled my trip due to Covid-19 and arbitrarily placed me on a trip a year later. OAT's actions were particularly deceptive, because only 3 weeks before the cancellation I had attended an OAT traveler meeting during which OAT management assured the attendees that if OAT cancelled a tour due to Covid, OAT would issue a full refund. Yet only 3 weeks after that meeting, they cancelled my trip and refused to refund my payments.
I wrote several letters/emails to request a refund. My emails reminded OAT that only 3 weeks before the cancellation, OAT management assured the attendees at an OAT meeting I attended that full refunds would be given if OAT cancelled a trip due to Covid-19. However, there was no response to my emails - just a voicemail stating they would not give me a refund. I was shocked at how poorly the cancellation was handled - that OAT never had the courtesy to contact me to let me know my trip was cancelled. I had to learn about the cancellation after inquiring about the strange email from their travel insurance company. I had taken several trips with OAT before the cancelled trip. I enjoyed those trips and if OAT had acted properly and refunded my payments for the cancelled trip I would have joined them on future trips. However, the treatment I received showed a lack of professionalism and more importantly trustworthiness.
As an established international company I am very disappointed that they would treat one of their frequent travelers in this manner. That is particularly the case because I was looking forward to resuming international travel when Covid-19 is behind us. There are so many more places I want to visit and I now have to find a travel company that I can trust.
This would have been my 12th OAT trip. In March 2020, booked a trip to South America for Nov. 2020 departure, 8 months in future. OAT Tripadvisor promised I could cancel any time for any reason and get 100% refund, which is stated in their contract, and I agreed to take travel insurance, for which she pushed hard ($2300). Had to cancel for unforeseen medical reasons following month. Had paid $1000 deposit to OAT. OAT refunded $400, then told me I had to contact a company called Allianz to whom they had given $600 of my deposit to without my knowledge. After months of filling out Allianz's online forms, plus sending them hard copies and a physician's letter, since it was impossible to reach anyone there by phone, I gave up being stonewalled by Allianz and recontacted OAT.
OAT's answer was that they could do nothing to help me and that I had to deal directly with Allianz. So I lost $600 of my deposit and the $2300 in travel insurance all in a period of one month. By the way the OAT insurance Company??? it was Allianz. Definitely a conflict of interest. Bottom line...After being an OAT customer for more than a dozen years, I will never again trust OAT with my money.
We have previously enjoyed four tours and excellent service with Grand Circle Travel (parent of OAT). Our 2020 OAT tour to Israel and Greece was cancelled due to COVID-19 (understandable). Customer care since then has been awful. Originally OAT offered a full refund and future travel credit. When we opted for a refund, we were notified that refunds were no longer available and we were required to rebook the same or different tour for future travel. I protested this and was elevated to a manager who told me they would not make an exception.
We then reserved a 2021 tour. When the invoice for the new trip was received, it was nearly $2000 more than quoted by the Reservation agent. I protested the higher cost and was told they would investigate the travel credits that had been offered by the agent. We were at the deadline for receiving the "Good Buy" discount for the new trip so I paid the full cost of the invoice under protest. OAT then applied travel credits so that I had a credit balance of -$1989.35 on an invoice date June 17. I called to ask for the credit balance to be refunded. OAT said they would send a refund in 90 days. Instead, I receive a new invoice on 8/11/20 with Miscellaneous "COVID Certificate Issued" cost of $1989.35 added to trip cost, so now my credit balance is zero. No call or email to explain the additional cost.
A call to OAT indicated these "COVID certificates" are for future travel, even though I was told it would be refunded. I once again asked for the money to be refunded and was told my request would have to be submitted to a manager as an exception. Very disappointed that OAT is clearly forgoing customer service in favor of their own financial protection. OAT and Grand Circle are not to be trusted at this point.
Updated on 08/27/2020: This is an update to an earlier post of 7/29/2020. I have been informed by OAT and their insurance company "Allianz" that I am to get a full refund and to expect same within 8-10 days. This was almost a month ago and I have received "nothing". Just thought consumers should be informed as to what type of company they are dealing with. Should I get a refund from the above company I will post a response when that event happens. Steve **
Original Review: Purchased trip to Egypt on 10/26/2019 which included trip insurance with the provision I could "cancel for any reason". On 5/1/2020 OAT sent a letter saying my trip was rescheduled for a year later. There was absolutely no communication between OAT and myself and I had no input in the matter. I have since requested my money back and OAT has refused. I am out my full trip, airline and insurance expense. They still have not contacted me and the only thing I can do is warn everyone to avoid this company at all costs.
My wife and I booked a Sicily tour for spring 2020 and paid over $17,000. OAT cancelled the trip due to COVID-19 and originally offered a full refund as an option (as required by Mass state law). Without any prior notification, they withdrew the refund option and instead booked us on an identical tour for 2021. They ignored our written request for a refund and did not provide any satisfaction when contacted by phone. We filed a complaint with the Mass attorney general and a dispute with our credit card company. Luckily after a waiting period of 60 days, we received a full refund from Visa. OAT obviously valued short-term monetary benefits over long-term customer loyalty and in our case, lost.
Overseas Adventure Travel Company Information
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- Overseas Adventure Travel
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