Chimu "Misadventures" and Nightmares

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10 January 2017 To Whom It May Concern, I am writing to make a formal complaint about my experience with Chimu Adventures, “The South American Specialists”, in particular their Brisbane office. The itinerary and costing was completed by the Team Leader, Ben Alexander. On the 20th April 2016, I received a phone call from Ben Alexander advising me he needed to upgrade our 4-day accommodation in Quito to the Hilton Colon Hotel at an extra cost of $230/person ($460 for my wife and I). I agreed to this and on the 23rd April 2016 made the payment in full of $24,708AUD. On the 13th October 2016, upon arriving to the Quito airport, after a 16-hour flight from Cusco, we were picked up and transferred to Hotel Charlota. I informed the driver that our accommodation was upgraded, and we were staying at the Hilton Colon. He advised that he was “following instructions” and refused to take us to the Hilton. My wife and I had no choice, but to check into this Hotel. The room we were given was on the second floor, with no lift access, and our room was approximately 3 x 3.5m. There was one chair, with limited facilities. As you can imagine, we were not impressed. I attempted to rectify the situation, by contacting the Quito representative as suggested by Chimu Adventures, but unfortunately was unable to get through to anyone. I also sent two emails to Ben Alexander advising him of the situation, and keeping in mind the time zone (9-11am Brisbane time), but unfortunately, did not receive a response. My wife and I stayed at the Carlota Hotel for 2-nights. During this time, I checked the availability of the Hilton Colon online and noted there were more than 30 rooms available. On the 3rd day, my wife and I were transferred to the hotel at the airport. It cost us an additional $60USD for transfer to the city center and back.Who would like to spend precious time close to the airport? Since arriving home from our trip, 30th October 2016, I made several phone calls to Ben Alexander, however, was repeatedly informed that he was not available. I eventually did speak with him, advising him of our experience in Quito and politely asked him to refund $460AUD for the Hotel upgrade we did not experience. Ben Alexander informed me that the Equador leg of our trip was organised by their partners “G Adventures”. I informed him that at no point had I had dealings with "G Adventures”, that all my correspondence with regards to the booking/s and subsequent payment was with Chimu Adventures. Ben Alexander agreed that he would liaise with customer service from “G Adventures” on my behalf, to resolve this issue. He informed me that he would contact me within a couple of days. Unfortunately, I did not hear back from Ben Alexander, so I made contact with him, a week later. He advised me that he had sent me an email; however, I did not receive this (I had no problem with Mails from Ben before the trip and still receive regular promotions from Chimu). Mr. Alexander then informed me that in fact, they “did me a favour”, by providing alternative accommodation, as he alleged the Hilton Colon was fully booked at the time we were in Quito. I was dissatisfied with this information, and his attitude towards me, so I requested to speak with his manager. I had a short conversation with the Director based in the Brisbane office who informed me that he “completely backs Ben” and they’ve done “nothing wrong”. I informed him that I would be making a formal complaint to Consumer Affairs and write an honest review online. He spoke to me rather aggressively, advising me that he “does not talk to anyone who makes threats” and ended the phone call. It is very disappointing that a travel company who state they’re “South American Travel Specialists” were unable or unwilling to assist me when I had difficulties with the accommodation- during and after the trip. My experience is - once I made the final payment, there was no longer any customer service. The issue I was hoping to resolve was the accommodation in Quito, to obtain a refund for the upgrade that my wife and I did not experience. On a general note, the whole trip was actually badly structured and poorly organised. There were other issues on our trip, Ben Alexander was aware of our flights- London to Buenos Aires on the way there, and Santiago to Sydney upon return, however, he organised the trip to start in Santiago and end in Quito. Unfortunately, I did not question the itinerary at the time of receiving this, as I was under the impression we were part of a small group tour, and perhaps there was inflexibility in terms of start and end locations of the tour. In fact we were part of a small group tour, a private tour: ourselves, the driver and the tour guide. As you can imagine, this arrangement is not very enjoyable, as we’re unable to share the travel experience with other people, as you would on a regular tour, and no doubt, the private tour is the reason it was so expensive. We had to arrange extra flights (cost incurred with same) to accommodate the start and end locations of the trip. If this was a private tour, why didn’t Chimu Adventures or 6 Adventures ensure that our private tour commenced and finished in our arrival and departure locations respectively? I am hoping someone is able to advise me on what my options are with regards to obtaining a refund for the accommodation I did not experience in Quito, but also, to advise other people of my poor experience with this travel agency. Yours sincerely, Victor Urbanek
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Reason of review:
Poor customer service

Preferred solution: Price reduction

1 comment

Thank you Victor, for posting your experience in great detail. Disgraceful behavior of Chimu Adventures. I hope you continue with Consumer affairs.

Lya Uhj

Chimu Adventures - bad news travel agency

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Chumps at Chimu Adventures Chimu Adventures stoops to defame its customers: Beware Recently we travelled to Antarctica on the MV Ushuaia on a cruise organised by the Australian travel agent Chimu Adventures. We have been treated appallingly by Chimu Adventures who have sneakily downgraded our cabin booking and then misled us further by dumping us in a cabin where the view they claim was recently rendered unobscured, when it is still obscured. When we question things they become aggressive, abuse and accuse us of a myriad dastardly deeds on board (after the event) and threaten to sue us in court. But the worst of it all though is that Chimu Adventures would stoop so low as to impugn and defame a customer for a few bucks. Chimu claims that we use our … profile on trip advisor as a bargaining chip in order to get your demands. … to get a ͞free͟ trip. And then most stunningly Chimu claim that … we are aware from several sources that this is often the way you go about things. Here the Chimu lie is quite clear. They have constructed a lie to defame, where several sources have confirmed to them that we get free trips as a consequence of our Tripadvisor profile. It is an untruth because there never has been any free trips and there cannot be any several sources. The truth is that over more than 4 decades of travel we have never had a free trip or in fact asked or received any form of gratuity from anyone in the travel or associated industries in relation to our Tripadvisor profile as Chimu Adventures has claimed. Chimu adventures has created a lie where the impact is to defame and denigrate. In their statement to us they also comment that … admittedly, you have not raised this with us as yet, which appears to contextualise their defamation as some sort of threat for future action or otherwise as a tactic to block us from actually suing them – but we are suing. One wonders whether Chimu used this type of defamation tactic before to quell consumer complaints? And will they do so again in the future? So the bottom line is that while Chimu Adventures can prevaricate about downgrading and the niceties of obscured view cabins, this banter is disingenuous in the face of explicit defamation for whatever reason. IF Chimu Adventures are sincere they will provide documentary evidence of the free trips, itemised, which they say they are aware of. They will also provide explicit evidence of the communications by which such free trips were asked for and subsequently delivered. But Chimu Adventures cannot provide any substantiation of their lies and defamation. Because there is no substantiation. The so called free trips did not ever happen. Chimu Adventures has constructed a lie to defame its customers, apparently for a few bucks. This appears to be the way Chimu Adventures deals with customer complaints, they have defamed us, they could defame you too.
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  • Were a long way away
  • Being defamed
Reason of review:
Poor customer service

Preferred solution: Let the company propose a solution

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