BBB Accredited Business since
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This company offers escorted vacations worldwide, specializing in European tours.
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A BBB Accredited Business since
BBB has determined that Grand European Travel meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.
BBB accreditation does not mean that the business' products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services.
Reason for Rating
BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.
Factors that raised the rating for Grand European Travel include:
- Length of time business has been operating
- Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size
- Response to 1 complaint(s) filed against business
- Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business
Customer Complaints Summary Read complaint details
|Complaint Type||Total Closed Complaints|
|Problems with Product/Service||0|
|Total Closed Complaints||1|
Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews
|Customer Experience||Total Customer Reviews|
|Total Customer Reviews||0|
Type of Entity
Business ManagementMs. Dee Russell, Guest Relations MGR Ms. Deborah Domer, Guest Relations Manager Ms. Kathy Hall, VP of Operations
Tours - Operators & Promoters Travel Agencies & Bureaus
Alternate Business NamesGrand European Tours 2003 Ltd
6000 Meadows Rd Ste 520
Lake Oswego, OR 97035 (503) 635-9627 (800) 552-5545 (503) 718-5130 (503) 718-5126 Directions
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Additional Phone Numbers
- (503) 635-9627 - Disconnected(Phone)
- (503) 718-5126(Phone)
- (503) 718-5130(Phone)
Additional Email Addresses
- - eQuote
- - Communication/Mass Email
Complaint Trends - Last 3 Years
Customer Review Trends
BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Overview
BBB Customer Reviews Rating represents the customers opinions of the business. The Customer Review Rating is based on the number of positive, neutral and negative customer reviews posted that are calculated to produce a score.
|Customer Review Experience||Value|
|Positive Review||5 points per review|
|Neutral Review||3 points per review|
|Negative Review||1 point per review|
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Read Complaint Details
Complaint: We recently returned from what was supposed to be a 15-day, fully guided tour of Italy, offered by Grand European Travel. The company advertised the tour as a "guided vacation". Very soon after our arrival we learned that if we wanted to have a "guided tour" we would be required to sign up for and pay extra for optional excursions. We learned that if we declined the excursions we would be left without a guide and would need to fend for ourselves. Since we expected and paid ($10,568) for a "guided tour" we felt that either we pay the extra fees ($1,347.77) or miss out on everything we were looking forward to seeing. We felt that the situation we were forced in was and felt very close to a "bait and switch" operation. Other travelers in our tour group felt the same way and they paid the extra fees. None of us wanted to be disappointed, after traveling so far, in not receiving the full experience. We have traveled with other travel companies (**** ****** Tours) and if an optional guided tour was offered the people who declined the tour were not abandoned but were provided with an alternative guided tour. All things considered, we felt we were misinformed and would expect a reputable company to offer a refund of the $1,347.77 excursion fees that we paid.
Desired Settlement: All things considered, we felt we were misinformed and would expect a reputable company to offer a refund of the $1,347.77 excursion fees that we paid.
Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2014/12/02) */ I have enclosed copies of the documents that Mr. ***** received 30 days prior to his tour, as well as the initial catalog page of the tour he booked that showed the included highlights of his tour. This information was also on our website. It clearly states exactly what sightseeing is included and on a separate page, it lists the optional sightseeing available and the price for each. I also included a copy of the daily itinerary that shows which dates there would be free time. Our optional sightseeing is designed to let the customer chose and customize their experience. Many people will take every optional available while some chose to have the free time to themselves. This information was made clear prior to Mr. ***** departure. We record every phone call for quality control purposes and Mr. ***** made several phone calls to our office in the weeks prior to his tour. Many of them were general questions, but one particular phone call made on Oct 2 stands out. He stated that he had his list of optional sightseeing tours in front of him but wondered why a certain attraction was not on the list in Rome. He mentioned he wanted to see the ***** ******** ******* and was quite upset that we did not offer it in our program. Again, all the documents provided gave no indication that we did. He pressed the matter with our agent **** and asked if this would be something that we could arrange on his behalf. **** contacted our travel director in Rome to inquire but she explained that private arrangements for museums etc. would have to be made by the customer themselves, but she did provide a website that the customer could go to to purchase tickets. He stated it was not worth the hassle and that he would be leaving a negative review about this tour because of the fact we did not offer this attraction. This was one week before his trip. During his trip we had several reports from our travel director that Mr. ***** was being difficult and rude to hotel, restaurant employees and local guides. While he seemed to be unhappy with the choices of the optional sight seeing, he signed for all but one of them. (Receipt is attached) He was always given the option to cancel or change these arrangements at the time, but he chose to attend all of them and paid in full with his credit card which was given to the travel director while on tour. It appears to me that Mr. ***** was looking for a more personalized and intimate form of travel experience with a personal guide available to him at all times. Our tours are designed to give an overview of a country, hitting the highlights while providing history and culture of the area. There are anywhere from 25-45 people in the group and the travel director works very hard to accommodate the needs of everyone in the group and not just one couple. Due to the amount of information provided to Mr. ***** prior to travel, his threats made regarding leaving negative feedback, and the fact that he willingly participated in all the optional tours, we must respectfully decline any request for reimbursement. ***SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS REDACTED BY BBB*** Initial Consumer Rebuttal /* (3000, 8, 2014/12/10) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) After reading the business' response, I was surprised at level of personal character attacks and assumptions made about me and my state of mind. Remarks like "quite upset," "He pressed the matter," and "threats made" at best sounded mean-spirited, and unprofessional as well as totally irrelevant. Also, mentioning the so called remarks that the travel director made about me had nothing to do with what was the subject of my complaint, even if the remarks had been truthful and correct, which they weren't. Let us pretend that the person who wrote the response doesn't understand how a "bait and switch" operation works like I mentioned in my complaint: If a person is shown a number of carefully worded brochures, with the emphasis slightly changed in order to communicate a slightly unclear message, that would represents the "bait" portion. The "switch" portion is when the person realizes that the actual situation that they find themselves in is not what they had been led to believe and felt pressured to adjust to it or risk having a negative outcome. The travel documents liberally use terms that I perceived as "bait" terms, like "a guided vacation" and "hassle-free travel experience." We signed up for a 15-day, guided Grand Italia tour. Upon arrival, we learned that if we refused to pay for the 11 optional excursions, 11 of the 15 days of our vacation would be mostly unguided, the "switch". On about day two, the travel director made a strong point of telling everyone that if we chose not to sign up for the optional excursions we would be missing out on most of the interesting sights that she could show us. She even commented that if we declined the Cinque Terre day trip, after coming this far, we would be "crazy." No pressure or "switch" here, right? Another example of a "switch": we were told that if we weren't taking the Highlights of Capri tour, we couldn't expect to have much to do upon arrival on the island other than walking around looking at a few expensive, tourist trap type shops. She portrayed it as a long and uneventful, dull experience, nothing like the brochure description. I wondered why the tour director repeatedly made a point of down-playing the non-excursions brochure descriptions and highlighting her offerings. We later learned that we would be paying her directly for the optional tours which I'm sure gave her a strong incentive to influence us travelers. We ended up paying for 10 excursions. Most people found themselves deciding to pay the extra costs rather than risk spoiling their vacation, unhappy about it or not. As previously mentioned, **** ****** guided tours don't abandon travelers if one declines one of his few "non-included" optional trips. He provides acceptable guided alternative excursions instead of leaving travelers to muddle along on their own. We realized that we had come a long way and wanted to receive the full experience even if we felt "tricked" into paying extra for them. The comment that "this information was made clear prior to Mr. *****' departure" makes me ask the question; how did they know what was clear to me? In summary, I found the response vindictive. I sensed that the company was trying to obfuscate the issues that I raised in order to conceal their questionable business practices. Also, I find it hard to believe that GUP is unaware that their tour director "hypes" excursions with the expectation of receiving higher earning. I again ask that the BBB assist me with my request for a $1,347.77 refund. Final Business Response /* (4000, 10, 2014/12/15) */ We assumed that Mr. ***** knew and understood that there would be optional excursions offered because of the telephone call he made where he stated that he had the list of optional excursions and their prices in front of him and he wondered why the ***** ******** was not included in that list. I do not understand how Mr. ***** can accuse of bait and switch when the included highlights are specifically listed and detailed in our brochure and travel documents. If it's not listed as included then it would fall under the optional category on the separate list. We charge for these optionals because we cannot always guarantee their operation and include them in the tour. An example would be the Highlights of Capri excursion that Mr. ***** mentoned. This is a boat ride around the island. Due to ever changing weather conditions in that area, we cannot guarantee that the cruise will happen for every tour we sell. Therefore, we only offer it as an optional. In our 30 years providing guided vacations, we have never had any of our guests accuse us of bait and switch. I truly do feel that Mr. ***** was expecting a more personalized one on one experience with someone there to "guide" him at all times. I apologize that we did not meet those expectations, but we did deliver on everything that was published in our brochure. While **** *****'s may say that everything in their tours is included, you are paying for them in the price of the tour. A similar Italy tour from **** ****** is $5400 per person without airfare, while Mr. ***** paid $4800 for our tour.A difference of $600 per person. Again, I must decline any request for refund. Final Consumer Response /* (4200, 12, 2014/12/19) */ (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.) Regarding comments from the Business, understanding whether optional excursions would be offered is not the issue. Understanding that declining to pay for optional tours would result in the majority of the tour being unguided is the issue. To repeat my previous statement, the business made liberal use of comments such as "a guided vacation" and "hassle-free travel" and yes, that is what we wanted and thought we were paying for. I don't know why GET keeps raising my questions about the ***** ******** since it is irrelevant, unless it is trying to engage in diversion. What should be addressed is why your tour director pointedly downplayed all of the brochure's descriptions of the tours and hyped her optional excursions. Her being paid extra for her tours is and should be recognized as an obvious conflict of interest. The comparison of the **** ****** Tours with GET helps to address my issues. The following highlights several misleading and unequal accounts made by GET: Grand Italia tour length-15 days, **** ****** tour length-17 days; number of optional excursions offered by GET-14 (adding up to $838.50 per person), number offered by RS-1 (an evening gondola ride of about $70 per person); GET costs: $4,800 including air, RS costs: $4,895 excluding air. Airfare costs shouldn't be in the discussion because it's like comparing apples and oranges. Why? It's because my wife and I can travel worldwide for $10 each on military aircraft. Also, I don't know what discount amounts GET receives from air carriers. **** ****** guided tours were fully guided and that is what we were expecting of GET. ** forbids its tour directors, bus drivers, and guides from accepting tips, or pocketing extra fees and kickbacks. GET's tour director described the Highlights of Capri tour as a wonderful, multi-hour boat trip, while the non-excursion island visit was portrayed as a somewhat boring and uneventful experience. Comments about weather conditions are irrevelent. I see GET failed to comment about what would happen to those who might not sign up for the day trip to Cinque Terre. They would be denied the benefits of having an alternate guided experience for the entire day. Their statement of never hearing the term "accuse us of bait and switch" isn't something we can verify and should be discounted. We did hear several fellow travelers, after hearing the tour directors remarks "selling" her excursions, comment that they felt that the situation was indeed close to a bait and switch scenario. We agreed. If you chose not to take GET's optional tours, you would not even be able to visit many tourist attractions you may have wanted to see without first making reservations, and many required several weeks' advance notice. Example: The ***** *********** entrance requires a minimum of several days advance notice. GET failed to make that important bit of information available to us prior to the start date of the tour. As part of the selling job, the tour director made it known that many other sites in multiple cities also required advanced reservations. That information in itself served to put pressure on us to pay for her tours or not get the full "hassle-free" travel benefit that was advertised. If Grand European Travel doesn't like being accused of operating very close to a bait and switch scenario, then ensure that you and the tour directors are "preaching" from the same bible and not appearing to compete for additional sources of revenue. A reputable company should be willing to accept criticism from its customers and acknowledge its mistakes, even if it means making refunds. Finally, attacking the motives and belittling customers is a formula that will ensure that those customers will never be repeat ones.