Consumer Complaints and Reviews
I paid the deposit for a Canadian Rockies trip scheduled for August 2016. In the interim, two (2) medical contraindications were diagnosed. Smithsonian Journeys was contacted immediately, however they refused to refund the $800.00. Multiple contacts were made (phone, email, letter) and all requests denied as "too late" as per their terms. The medical conditions would cause grave harm if the trip were participated in and cancellation was advised by my physicians.
The Villas and Vistas of the Italian Lake District was the only tour that I found that had an organized activity to this area. The Hotel Regina Olga, is listed as a four star hotel, but the five star Villa d'Este down the road is not one but a whole galaxy away in quality and amenities from this one. Here I had to pay $900 for single's supplement on a six night stay. I booked an extra three nights on my own for $148 a night, but was told by the Gohagan company that handles the Smithsonian tours that it would cost $250 per night to stay on my own. The so called experts, i.e., lecturers were far from being as scholarly as one would expect from Smithsonian.
It seems to me that the Smithsonian serves as a bait based on its reputation to lure the naive and unsavvy traveller. There is a lot of hype and heavy use of adjectives in the brochure that should serve as a warning to anyone with any degree of sophistication.
The economic damage was that I had to pay an outrageosly inflated price for a room that I was able to get on my for a lot less. The psychological damage was that I had to participate in a tour that was inferior to anything that I had expected under the auspices of the Smithsonian. I want this filed for the record and to warn others to think twice before signing up for a Smithsonian Journey.
In November of 2005 my wife and I booked a trip to Peru with Smithsonian Journeys located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The trip is scheduled for May, 2006. We selected this tour because of a great interest in the ruins of Machu Picchu and because it was one of the very few tours that included a stay in Sanctuary Lodge which is the ONLY hotel located within the walls of Machu Picchu. As one of the seven wonders of the modern world, it was CRITICALLY important to us to stay in that facility to achieve our travel desires.
We paid a deposit of $500 for each of us. Over a month later we noticed in one of the brochures from the company that the tour would NOT be staying in Sanctuary Lodge but in another facility some miles away from the monument itself. When I called the company to inquire about this change in January, 2006 I was told that the company uses several different hotels for that part of the trip and they were not going to use Sanctuary Lodge on this trip. I told them that staying at Sanctuary Lodge was the ONLY reason we selected this tour and that if the tour was not going to stay at Sanctuary Lodge we would like to cancel our participation in the tour and have our deposits returned. They refused to do so.
After a series of letters were exchanged they continued to refuse to refund our deposit offering only “travel vouchers” for another tour. In NONE of the letters does the company deny having switched hotels without notification. Obviously, this is unacceptable to us since we believe that Smithsonian Journeys used a form of “bait and switch” and we can NEVER trust this company again. We are experienced travelers and we have never been treated in such a shoddy manner by any other tour operator. We believe this “bait and switch” tactic to be unethical and the failure to refund our deposits is, at the very least, a terrible business practice. We would like to alert you to the practices of this company as we believe them to be totally unacceptable for any legitimate travel agent.
We lost $1,000.00 PLUS $498.00 for "travel insurance" that only covers illness and cancellation by the vender.
Smithsonian Journeys Company Profile
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- Smithsonian Journeys