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U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-Federal
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., Washington DC 20590
Phone Number: 202-366-9805
The number is 1512245.
Type of Entity
Business ManagementMr. Tsegaye Mamo, President
Transportation Services Sightseeing Tours
Products & Services
Airport Metro Connection Inc. offers the following product(s): Transportation
Alternate Business NamesExcellent Tours
4324 41st St
Brentwood, MD 20722 (888) 559-5066 (301) 773-1018 Directions
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Problems with Product/Service
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Complaint: I contracted with Excellent Tours for a custom African American history tour to occur on Sat, July 26th. The contract was for 2 buses (1 55-passenger bus and 1 34-passenger bus). The tour was part of a number of activities planned for my family's reunion which my sister and I were coordinating. Needless to say, this tour was a disaster as I will outline below. Firstly, the buses were supposed to arrive at 5:45 pm for pre-boarding for a 6:00 pm departure. Both buses were late. One arrived at 6:00 pm or shortly thereafter and the other bus didn't arrive until 6:15 pm. Leroy, the driver of the 55-passenger bus, asked me if this was a 3-hour or 4-hour tour. He seemed to have no clue as to what the plans were. He also indicated that he was asked to stand in at the last minute for a bus driver that wasn't able to make it, which explains why they were late. Clearly, the bus driver and tour guides should have been informed of the details of the tour by Excellent. Although Hank (tour guide) arrived on the 34-passenger bus which was the first to arrive, he wanted to switch buses after everyone was all loaded and ready to go. Apparently, he had told my sister that Richard (tour guide on 55-passenger bus) and Leroy were not getting along. However, I was unaware of this issue and asked Hank to stay on the 34-passenger bus as my purse was on that bus and I needed to be on the bus with him as he was the only tour guide I had previously talked with and had expressed how I wanted everything to go. Hank never mentioned to me that Richard and Leroy were having difficulty getting along. My sister later mentioned it to me when everything went crazy. Boy do I wish I had known about the conflict between Richard and Leroy. This was such an unprofessional mess! Upon arriving at the Capital, Richard told people to get off the bus if they liked. Family got off the bus and were scattering in different directions. I presumed that Richard had given them some instructions but apparently he hadn't. Richard should have told family to stay with him, how long they would be there, where to meet the bus, etc., but he didn't communicate much with them. He didn't communicate with Leroy either because Leroy was angrily telling my family that stayed on the bus that he didn't want to get a $1000 fine for sitting too long in the wrong place. My family didn't know anything about the fines or where a bus could park. This shouldn't have even been a concern for them. Leroy threatened to leave folks to avoid getting the ticket and Richard didn't provide any direction. Needless to say, many of my family members were very upset. Several of my family members were afraid that those off the bus would be left, so they were calling those off the bus on cell phones saying "we have to get back on the bus or be left". Two other family members got off the bus screaming about the situation. Finally, Hank went over to Leroy and told him where to meet the family. When we got off the bus at the White House, family was still steaming and indicated that Richard was talking down to them saying that they needed to hurry up and get off the bus and that they didn't have time to get strollers for the babies etc. Many family members stated that Richard was knowledgeable but rude, abrasive and had difficulty connecting with people. Later in the tour, when arriving at the Lincoln Memorial, Richard told everyone to get off the bus. However, after he got off the bus, Leroy told everyone to sit down and that he was moving the bus. There were old people on the bus who almost fell because of this sudden change in plans. All family members stated that the conflict between Richard and Leroy seemed to be the source of the problem and my family was caught in the middle of their unprofessional feuding. Hank tried to intercede to make everyone play on the same sheet of music but it was hopeless. My family was upset and I was upset and totally embarrassed. Ultimately, the tour was late getting back because Excellent Tours was late to begin with, there was discord between Leroy and Richard, and family's emotional responses to the mistreatment had to be managed. I had also made a request in writing that our 1st stop be the MLK memorial as my family wanted to take pictures there. Irrespective to my request, we didn't go there first, so our pictures have a dusky look. we also didn't get to take pictures of the different sub-families as we have always done in the past. We only have reunions every two years, so this was a major loss. Nothing went as planned and I am so sorry that I used Excellent Tours. Upon telling Mamo the manager of Excellent Tours of the issues he was sympathetic but ultimately didn't take responsibility. He thought it was everyone else's fault: he thought it was Hank's fault because he recommended Richard, it was Richard's fault for not taking leadership, it was Hank's fault for not explaining the plans to Richard, etc. Mamo's failure to take responsibility for his team of people is based on his unwillingness to provide any financial compensation for the losses that our family suffered. My family is mostly from out of state and will probably never come back to DC to do a tour. The opportunity has been lost. Mamo/Excellent Tours should have fully vetted Richard prior to the tour and should have ensured that teams were assembled with people who could work together. Excellent Tours needs to take financial responsibility for this fiasco. Why should "Excellent Tours" receive fully payment for a tour that was clearly not so "excellent?" What a huge disappointment!
Desired Settlement: 50% refund of the $780 paid for the 55-passenger bus which amounts to $390 as this was the bus where all of the problems were.
The family tour arranged and planned by *** ***** for August had misunderstandings and a lack of coordination from the start. As the tour operators we arrange and plan the details of the tour depending upon the size of the group, the composition of the group, the type of tour, and the time the group allocates. On our regularly scheduled tours for the public we have tours that take three to six hours. Each stop is timed accordingly. The age and size of the group, as well as the regulations are among the many factors. For our private tours we give all the options to the groups and families, and the time and stops are both determined by the family’s needs and desires.
Considering these, when *** ***** contacted Excellent Tours to go on the African American Tour, she was provided with the name and phone number of one of the tour guides in advance in order to arrange their custom tour.
She was briefed by the tour guide on the possible sites they could cover in a well managed group of that size. On the day of the tour, the situation was unexpectedly unorganized and only one person was to coordinate and manage a group of people with ages ranging from 2 to 70 years old. The group expected the buses to pull up on a street that restricts buses. The pick-up for the group was supposed to be at 6:00 PM, but it took 45 minutes to communicate and start the tour.
Once the tour started, there was no coordinator in the family and the tour group was standing in the bus while they were supposed to get off with the tour guide. The elders didn’t want to get off the bus, and remained seated. During that time, the driver and the tour guide tried to explain what their obligations were, as people started to blame them. Considering all the misunderstanding and the lack of coordination coming from the group leader, the tour was extended more than the allowed time. At the end the group was happy, and the tour guides and drivers received a $50 tip each.
Excellent Tours has good experienced tour guides and drivers who have more than 20 years of guiding and driving experience in Washington DC. Each has a responsibility when they work together. As *** ***** said there was no misunderstanding among them because they each covered their portion of the responsibility. This was the point that was explained to her when she contacted the office, and as a responsible business, she was offered a twilight tour for five as a courtesy.
Declining the offer, she requested money back, threatening to write a bad review about Excellent Tours. As responsible as we can be, we have all the evidence on our record and we will follow all the rules and regulations of the city while we do our tours, and we will treat our clients fairly. The rules for idling buses to drop off and pick up signs are strictly enforced in the city. Unfortunately, *** ***** couldn’t take that reason and blame the driver and the tour guide.
We have the detailed proof of what time the group started the tour and the routes the two buses took to do the tours because the buses are equipped with GPS till they are dropped at their destination.
Excellent Tours thank the Trip Advisor team for giving us the opportunity to respond to the allegation and will provide all the documents if it is required. We are committed to do the best service to our clients and it is the first negative review received in our years of service.
Thank you and best regards.
Excellent Tours Management
[To assist us in bringing this matter to a close, you must give us a reason why you are rejecting the response. If no reason is received your complaint will be closed Administratively Resolved]
Assertion 1: The Excellent Tours manager states “As the tour operators we arrange and plan the details of the tour depending upon the size of the group, the composition of the group, the type of tour, and the time the group allocates."
Response 1: The tour company failed to handle the details of the tour which led to the chaos that occurred on the tour. The company was not prepared to handle two buses of people. Mamo (Excellent Tours manager) indicated to me after the tour that they had never done a two bus tour before. I believe the company’s lack of experience resulted in the failure of this tour. The tour company was not able to manage a group of this size or composition, contrary to the manager’s assertion that they take all of these things in consideration when planning the details of a tour. Excellent Tours never reached out to me prior to the tour to get any details that would help them “plan the details” of the tour. I was constantly reaching out to them to make sure that everything went smoothly (I have numerous emails to show how I reached out to them - please let me know where to send them).
Assertion 2: The manager indicates "that on the day of the tour, the situation was unexpectedly unorganized and only one person was to coordinate and mange a group of people with ages ranging from 2 to 70 years old. The pick-up for the group was supposed to be at 6:00 PM, but it took 45 minutes to communicate and start the tour."
Response 2: If Excellent Tours is accustomed to managing tours based on “size” and “composition of the group”, why didn’t they know that the age range was so large. They never asked me any questions about the ages of the people on the tour but I told them that the tour was for a family reunion. They shouldn’t have been surprised by the large range in ages as members of a family usually have a large age span. Things were disorganized at the start of the tour but not because of me or my family. My family was ready to go on the tour as scheduled at 5:45 pm. The disorganization came from Excellent Tours. Firstly, one of the buses arrived at 6 pm or later and the other bus arrived at 6:15 or later. I have documentation that proves they agreed to a boarding time of 5:45 pm not 6 pm. Leroy, one of the bus drivers, asked me how long the tour was supposed to be. He had no clue as to what we were supposed to be doing. He also indicated that he was asked to be a substitute driver as the other person who was supposed to drive the bus was a no-show. I believe that Excellent Tours should have given Leroy the particulars regarding the tour. This failure led to disorganization. When Leroy and the tour guide, Richard, met each other, there immediately were problems between the two of them. Hank, the other tour guide, told my sister that Richard and Leroy were not getting along. This conflict created more disorganization as Hank was suggesting changing buses with Richard to address this conflict. I had provided each tour guide with a handout of the sites our family wanted to see in order of priority (I would also like to email this documentation to you). However, we didn’t go to the MLK memorial as I requested for the first stop. So, the tour starts off disorganized due to the tour company’s lateness, personal disputes amongst hired staff, tour staff not understanding the basics of the tour, and not following the instructions that I had written up.
Assertion 3: The manager states “The group expected the buses to pull up on a street that restricts buses. “
Response 3: We were not aware of any restrictions regarding buses at our pick up location, which was a restaurant. Excellent Tours only asked that we provide the address of where we wanted to be picked up from. The tour company never told us that this address was problematic or notified us of any restrictions. If there were issues, then the tour company should have notified us. So, much for the tour company’s “detailed plans.”
Assertion 4: The manager states “Once the tour started, there was no coordinator in the family and the tour group was standing in the bus while they were supposed to get off with the tour guide.”
Response 4: There was a family coordinator. Further, people were standing in the bus because the tour guide, Richard, did not give them clear instructions as to what they were supposed to do. The tour guide got off the bus and told my family they could get off if they wanted to. He didn’t tell them to stay together or anything. Richard did not provide any direction to Leroy at the US Capitol as to where Leroy should meet family members who got off the bus. So, Leroy was upset that the bus was parked in a zone that he could receive a $1,000 fine. Leroy took this out on my family. Neither my family nor I were aware of any zoning issues. Most people taking a tour aren’t aware of these restrictions. The tour guide and bus driver are supposed to know how to manage the tour in terms of restrictions, etc. when visiting various sites. Leroy asked me if I was aware of zoning rules around the Capitol. I told him “No, I don’t drive a bus for a living.” I didn’t realize that I was expected to tell the bus driver what streets to meet us on after touring the Capitol. I thought this was the tour guide’s responsibility. This was so ridiculous.
Assertion 5: The manager mentions that “During that time, the driver and the tour guide tried to explain what their obligations were, as people started to blame them. Considering all the misunderstanding and the lack of coordination coming from the group leader, the tour was extended more than the allowed time.”
Response 5: Clearly, the manager who wrote this assertion was not present during the tour. The tour guide left the bus and then the driver was explaining to family why he couldn’t stay parked at the Capitol and expressing his frustration because he didn’t know where he was supposed to park since the tour guide had gotten off the bus. There was no “lack of coordination” coming from me as it was not my responsibility to tell the bus where to meet the tour guide and family members who got off the bus. The tour guide is supposed to instruct the bus driver and the people taking the tour regarding logistics while on tour.
Assertion 6: The manager asserts that “At the end the group was happy, and the tour guides and drivers received a $50 tip each.”
Response 6: We were not happy. Hank and his bus driver did a fine job. The problem was with the other tour guide and bus driver. When all of this was unfolding, it was difficult to determine if it was the tour guide’s fault or the bus driver’s. Initially, I thought that it was the bus driver’s fault based on information gathered. So, I gave the tour guide the tip and didn’t give the bus driver a tip. The bus driver approached me at the end of the tour to try to explain things and a few cousins came up to talk as well and they indicated that the tour guide was the problem. So, I gave the bus driver a tip because I needed time to sort out all of the various family reports and things that I witnessed. I certainly didn’t want to penalize the bus driver if the tour guide was at fault, as I am a fair minded person. After the tour, I got some family members together to go over the events of the evening and it all made sense. It was the conflict and lack of coordination between the tour guide and the bus driver that caused the problem. So, they were both at fault in the final analysis.
Assertion 7: The manager asserts that ”Excellent Tours has good experienced tour guides and drivers who have more than 20 years of guiding and driving experience in Washington, D.C. “
Response 7: This tour company had never worked with Richard Mapp, as he was recommended by Hank, one of their regular tour guides. The tour company failed to properly vet Richard Mapp to determine if he was a good match for our tour.
Assertion 8: The manager asserts “As *** ***** said there was no misunderstanding among them because they each covered their portion of the responsibility.”
Response 8: This assertion is simply false.
Assertion 9: The manager states “She was offered a twilight tour for five as a courtesy. Declining the offer, she requested money back, threatening to write a bad review about Excellent Tours.”
Assertion 9: As a native Washingtonian, offering me a tour of Washington when I had just been on a tour of DC was pretty useless and did not provide adequate compensation for the loss that my family suffered. I requested that the tour company reimburse me for half the price of the bus that Richard and Leroy were on, as reasonable compensation for the loss that we suffered. I only complained and put bad feedback on the internet because the tour company failed to present me with something of value for the loss that my family suffered. Sometimes there are service failures, but one expects the company to make a reasonable effort to compensate the customer when major service failures occur.
Assertion 10: The manager states “As responsible as we can be, we have all the evidence on our record and we will follow all the rules and regulations of the city while we do our tours, and we will treat our clients fairly.”
Response 10: We had no issue with the company following City regulations. The problem was that the tour company expected me and my family to know City regulations regarding buses and provide solutions for adhering to those regulations. It is not my fault that the tour guide hopped off the bus and didn’t tell the bus driver where to park the bus. It is not my fault that the bus is not supposed to pick people up on 14th Street. The tour company should have dealt with these issues as part of its “detailed planning”. We were not treated fairly at all.
Assertion 11: The manager states that “We have the detailed proof of what time the group started the tour and the routes the two buses took to do the tours because the buses are equipped with GPS till they are dropped at their destination”.
Response 11: I would love to see this detailed proof and an explanation of what is being proved. The tour started late and was prolonged due to failures on the tour company’s part.
I could go on and on but I think I have said enough. Clearly “Excellent Tours” doesn’t want to compensate me and my family for the poorly executed tour. The manager is more concerned about holding onto his money than fairness and equity. This tour was supposed to be a major highlight for my family but instead it was an embarrassing, chaotic, stressful event.
Dear *** ******,
Re: Complaint ********
The accusation the client is making doesn't have any ground. Excellent tours have a specific route, stops and time spent at each monument/memorial published on the website. At the start of the tour the family gathering was not all in the same mind sate to do the tour, as some of the people were asking the driver to be dropped at the hotel, because they had a long day. Once the tour started at the first stop, still the group was in disagreement about getting off the bus and remaining in the bus. All this confusion and luck of detailed planning was the main cause. As the company’s experience in handling a big group we have a long record and have proved ourselves. We are operating a fleet of vehicles and our drivers and tour guides all have the required license from the city to do a tour.
As we replied before, we take our job seriously and each and every client is very important to us but at no time we falsify, and misinform clients. That is why we took the group for a longer period on the tour and even offered a free tour to clear the misunderstanding. Unfortunately, money back after all the service is rendered is not our policy.