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Is this the best travel complaint ever?

written by Intrepid Travel August 13, 2015

Call us biased, but we’re pretty fond of this recent customer complaint from one Intrepid traveller from England. We did our best, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep us from feeling the full wrath of Rebecca Gadsby. What can we say? You can’t win them all…

Dear Intrepid Travel,

I have just returned from one of your trips to Thailand (Hike, Bike & Kayak). I understand you are an Australian company and therefore, you may not understand very much about the British culture. Allow me to explain; British people like to complain. They will complain about anything; late buses/early buses, noise/quiet, the weather, food, the colour of the bedspread, someone’s nose hair being too long etc – you get the idea. It’s part of our culture and it is literally the only way we know how to communicate with each other. Imagine then, my absolute horror in undertaking a trip of this kind with plenty of potential for misdemeanours and errors, only to discover I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Not a single thing. And believe me, I have tried.

Part of the issue, I believe, is down to the organisation and attention to detail in the first place – how is anything to go wrong if someone has carefully planned everything? But the overall problem is with your extremely professional guide – called ‘Is’ (Prapassorn Yapiang) on our tour – who solved any potential for a problem with such efficiency that I think she might actually be a machine (in fact, I wish my computer worked as effectively as her. It frequently causes me problems and gives me plenty of reasons to complain). How on earth are things to go even slightly wrong, if your guide is always one step ahead constantly working to make sure there are no problems? On top of this, she was always extremely informative, meaning I had no grounds to take legal action for any incident occurring due to my own stupidity, but one that I should have been informed about in the first place. Her helpfulness was particularly frustrating; she literally worked around the clock to make sure we were safe and very happy – often going above and beyond the ‘call of duty.’ I never found myself even remotely ‘unhappy’ during the entire trip, which is very disappointing.

There were two particular incidents where I came close to being satisfied in my quest to complain; the first occurred in Kanchanaburi where a meal we ordered was taking a particularly long time. Some had received their meals – but mine had not arrived. “Excellent”, I thought, “here is my opportunity for a full refund….” but just as I was beginning to mentally script my complaint letter, ‘Is’ stepped into the kitchen and actually began cooking! Yes, she actually cooked my meal so that I didn’t have to wait any longer. Before I knew it, my meal was being served and an opportunity to complain had been lost.

The second incident occurred on the Hill Tribe Trek – the ground was particularly muddy due to a spot of rain (unfortunately not as much as in the UK, otherwise I would have complained about this); due to my lack of athleticism and extreme clumsiness (and despite our guide repeatedly telling us to be careful), I slipped slightly on a steep bank which went into a fast moving river. The words “compensation” and “insurance payout” quickly sprang to my mind and I was thrilled by the prospect of some injuries or at least minor scars to complain about for the next 10 years. But just as I was envisaging the payout cheque, ‘Is’(our guide), grabbed my arm, pulled me up the bank and placed me firmly on my feet as if it was no effort at all (I am not your usual thin, sporty, Intrepid traveller). What sort of Jedi Guides are you employing at Intrepid? More importantly, where do you find these ninjas? I wouldn’t mind a few working for me.

Then came my birthday – being in the entertainment industry, I am your typical quiet, shy sort of traveller, not wanting to make a fuss on my special day. Imagine my surprise, then, when our guide had planned a very special day for me – being blessed by a monk, no less! And then came cake in the evening. Something I had not at all anticipated, and a surprise which actually made me smile, much to my disgust.

In essence, I would like to say it has been a completely disappointing trip – with absolutely nothing to complain about and only amazing memories, the most beautiful scenery, fantastic food, new friendships and an all-round outstanding experience.

Here’s hoping you understand the British use of irony and sarcasm.

Thanks,

Rebecca Gadsby

P.S If your guide, ‘Is’, isn’t already on a ridiculously high wage, then you should take steps to alter this. Otherwise I’m going to poach her. I could do with a Jedi like that.

So cut up were we for ruining poor Rebecca’s travel plans that we felt it necessary to send her some flowers in apology. But even then, we couldn’t quell her fury:

Now look here, Intrepid, I don’t know what you’re playing at by sending me a beautiful bunch of flowers, but it’s absolutely unacceptable.

You’re making my own boss look bad and moreover, I’m becoming a social outcast. Not only do I have nothing to contribute in my friend’s conversation’s about their summer holidays (Spain was too hot in the heat wave, the hotel in Turkey wasn’t very nice and the people in Israel weren’t very helpful); I am now being looked upon as some sort of social deviant for receiving a bunch of flowers from an unusually thoughtful company, whilst my friends are receiving parking fines. I am already drinking in a corner on my own in the pub, since I can only comment with ‘I had an amazing trip…’ without adding some negative oracle to counteract the statement. It’s extremely un-British. I’m worried I’ll be extradited.

I don’t know whether you’re trying to earn yourselves some sort of award, but let me make it clear – I don’t have involvement in OBEs. You had much better send flowers to Prapassorn Yapiang; as she is Thai it is more acceptable for her to be grateful – even happy – about such a lovely surprise. Besides, as a Jedi, she probably has the ability to get you your OBE.

With flabbergasted thanks,

Rebecca Gadsby

“Complaints” published with permission from Rebecca Gadsby. 

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18 comments

Brendan July 25, 2019 - 10:01 pm

A few years ago, I went on Intrepid’s Classic Vietnam Tour from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City 15 day trip. If Rebecca Gadspy thinks Brits can be moaners, they can learn lessons from the Irish – we have a disease called “compo culture”. But not only did my trip echo her experience, I loved it so much (and the brilliant tour guide -who never seemed to sleep) that I will be doing it all over again next year. Before then I hope to go on a Safari trip to Tanzania. I know that I will be perfectly safe as I will bring a book with me in case I need to read between the lions…. 🙂

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Margaret Beagrie Lambart I May 2, 2019 - 7:29 pm

I am so pleaded I chose Intrepid for my excursions in India and Napal.
Ever guide has been a person of true integrity and a wealth of knowledge delivered with pride and cultural respect.
In Napal I had the good fortune to meet Amit who taught me so much about the spirituality of his beautiful country and connected me to his deep love of nature. A true gardian of Mother Earth
I am now in Agra, India and have just returned from a guided tour of the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort with Khurram who was very knowledgeable,respectful and helpful. Not just on the tour but also ensuring I was safe and comfortable in all aspects of my journey, which is very important to me as I am traveling alone. Thank you so much Khurram.
Tomorrow I will return to Deli by car with my driver Raza who has provided all my transpot to Agra and back as well as all the sites on my itinery. He too is reliable, helpful and most imporantly an excellent driver.
I have felt like a true VIP.
I have had my own personal guide and driver.
Thank you Raza and Khurram you have been my Indian gardian angels.
Thank you Intrepin for employing such talanted authentic people.
I also have to recommend a walking tour through old Deli. My young female guide,sorry I can’t remember her name ,was top shelf. I felt I was out shopping for an Indian wedding with my daughter.
The spice markets and ancient architectural sitees of mosques and temples was a personal highlight but my favoutite memory will be making roti in the Sikh kitchen where they feed the homeless or anyone who is hungry ever day. I am very grateful to everyonefor making my journey soooo wonderful.
Margaret Lambart Beagrie

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ANNALICE August 17, 2018 - 11:03 pm

I have to add to the praise listed. Just returned from an Intrepid Food Adventures tour of Sri Lanka and it was incredible. The tour guide Thilantha was excellent the standard of accommodation was great and the meals and cooking lessons we had with local families is a memory I will never forget. Thank you Intrepid .

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Rebecca Shapiro August 18, 2018 - 5:09 am

That’s so wonderful to hear – thank you for sharing! So glad you enjoyed 🙂

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Maureen Robinson December 8, 2017 - 7:40 pm

Disappointingly, I too can only add to the long list of glowing praise! Just returned from Read Food Adventure in Vietnam and as a world wide female solo traveller of 65 years I had the best adventure ever with Intrepid. Bon, our tour leader was amazing and I’ve returned home with his constant maxim of ‘share the love’ ringing in my ears. Meaning use local small businesses where possible and give to those without. His perception and anticipation of all our needs was paramount. Great fun too.
Many thanks
Maureen

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Sarah June 21, 2016 - 1:13 pm

Best letter ever.. sorry Rebecca had such a great time. It must have been awful for her haha

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Sarah June 20, 2016 - 6:16 pm

Loved loved loved my Intrepid trip in Thailand – from BKK up to Chaing Mai. Our group leader was a legend and she made sure we had the best experience and all with a great sense of humor (we had a couple of people whose travel agents hadn’t mentioned you might be eating Thai food :-0). This still ranks as one of my best group/independent travel experiences – from the food, home stays to the people. Thanks Intrepid and Ben(japorn)!

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Diane June 20, 2016 - 5:07 am

HI …
Hmmmm.. After reading such rave reviews (congrats !:)
I am in the midst of contemplating a nice relaxing vacay in Tuscany this September …
Can you supply me with any ideas ? I am 65 and travelling solo (zone a modest budget)
(A bonus for me during this time would be a train ride to Switzerland …. Is that asking too much ? )
Lol … Thank you for your consideration

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James Shackell June 20, 2016 - 1:38 pm

Hi Dianne,

Tuscany in September, lucky you! That’s a great plan. We have a couple of itineraries that might be suitable. Our first is a 15-day Best of Italy trip and the other is a shorter, 8-day Highlights of Italy. Both of these pass through Tuscany. If you’ve got any questions, or you’d like us to organise flights and insurance for you too, get in touch with one of our adventure specialists. The phone number is on the top right of those trip pages. And don’t worry, a lot of our travellers choose to go solo. It’s a great way to see the world.

All the best!
James

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Sylvia August 25, 2015 - 9:19 pm

Hi,
I hope my trip to Thailand will be also as horrible as that one. Can you make sure that I have also a Jedi guide on the Beautiful Thailand trip starting March 13th.

Thanks,
clumsy Padawan
Sylvia

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MR R.L. BATCHELOR August 25, 2015 - 4:25 am

dear sir/ madam.
do you have a brochure on self guided walking, cycling trips world wide.
as i would like to do some self guided travell during january/febuary for a week.
thanks.

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James Shackell August 25, 2015 - 1:11 pm

Hi Mr Batchelor,

We’ve got a few self-guided itineraries. Have a look through this search page here or browse our walking trips and cycling trips to find one you like best.

Cheers
James

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Mallory W. August 22, 2015 - 12:47 am

I was inspired to write a positive response about my experience with Intrepid back in 2010. I went on a tour at Kruger National Park and had the best time of my life. Not only were the sights and experiences treasured, but the group that I was placed in and our tour guide, Sam, were amazing. It was so much fun and I have nothing but fond memories! Sam is a kind, thoughtful and knowledgeable guide and I really do hope that he is still with Intrepid after these years doing what he seemed to be a natural for.
At the end of the trip we all pooled together some funds for Sam and his wife, as they were expecting their first child. He was so taken aback that he cried, and then we cried 🙂
Kudos to Intrepid for your awesome itineraries, your organized efforts, and your amazing employee, “Sam”. I hope to book with Intrepid again very soon.

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Rhianon Lewis August 21, 2015 - 2:52 pm

My adults only gorilla watching holiday in Uganda was fabulous. My take your teenage kids holiday in Thailand was fabulous.
I know my adults only Croatia adventure will be fabulous too.

Thank you for taking care of me in my precious time off. Allowing me to experience some of these countries in a way I could not organise for my self in such a limited time. Looking forward to next years adventure in the Himalayas.

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M August 17, 2015 - 1:42 pm

I sent through a complaint letter (Hawthorn VIC Store) in 2011 after returning from a trip Bolivia and Peru 21 days. The two guides were rude, unprofessional, one had his girlfriend riding along on the trip and they were both snorting coke every other night. No response, no flowers…

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James Shackell August 21, 2015 - 10:01 am

Hey M,

I’m very sorry to hear that. Could you let us know your name so we can try and track down your letter? Just email: customerrelations@intrepidtravel.com and explain the situation and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Apologies again,
James

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L. August 14, 2015 - 5:13 am

It appears you only respond to glowing praise.

After my Intrepid trip, I asked your company to contact me. Not one word after 7 months.
When customers have raised serious issues with you, some kind of response is expected.

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Intrepid Admin August 14, 2015 - 10:22 am

Hey L,

So sorry to hear that. Would you mind letting us know your name so we can look up your correspondence? Just email: customerrelations@intrepidtravel.com with your name and the subject “Blog Complaint” and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

Cheers and apologies again,
Ollie

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