This topic contains 14 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by “We Drive You” (Tuscan independent driver/guide) 7 months, 3 weeks ago.
July 1, 2014 at 6:44 am #43774
Doing some research on Tours by Locals and how they treat their guides I came across several references to difficulties guides had dealing with the Tours by Locals team. I also want to share a very bad experience I recently had with this company. I’ve been guiding for them for quite a few years – they don’t send to many customers my way, but its nice to do tours every once in a while. I make a little extra money, as well as for the booking company via a percentage they take (Tours by Locals) and it gives me a chance to share my knowledge of the wine region where I guide.
I’ve always gone the extra distance for tours and clients – and work with them directly to meet their needs. I’ve always delivered the agreed upon tours. I’ve also never encouraged customer reviews as this is a very part time business – however I do get them every once in while. One latest review clearly had a personal agenda and was a negative review.
Tours by Locals then started harassing me to deal with that review even though I never reply to any reviews especially such as this one which had some sort of agenda not related to the actual tour and no substantial information about why that person gave a bad review. This company then started calling me repeatedly, leaving phone messages and emailing me. Then they accused me of hiring another guide in my place to conduct the tour by sending out an email to me about their policy of not hiring other guides (I’ve never done this).
Then out of the blue about 6 weeks after they finally stopped harassing me they decided to completely lock out my guide account after years of guiding for them and also locking me out of several pending tours. Wow – this is certainly one way to deal with your guides. Talk about amazing service.
If you don’t treat people right (in this case their guides) you will lose good people. Tour by Locals is rotten to the core in that regard.
I would be *very* careful when using this company and or as a guide deciding whether or not you should sign up with them. There are plenty of other companies offering similar services for both guides and clients interested in booking tours – I would certainly think twice when considering using Tours by Locals for any service.September 23, 2015 at 9:53 pm #52304
Exactly the same thing happened to me with TBLS. After guiding for them for 3 busy years and only 5 star ratings, an American woman who also had a hidden agenda, demanded a refund and I had to give up 200 euros. Another American client did not like the restaurant we went to and TBLS asked me to contribute to a refund for this very wealthy client.
As enough is enough for me, I sent TBLS a very nice resignation email stating that I did not agree with their questionable business practices, and to never contact or harass me again. Their loss.September 23, 2015 at 9:56 pm #52306
Camila – thanks for sharing this, we are certainly not the only guides that have been treated like this by Tours by Locals. Sorry to hear of your experience ruined by one bad apple especially after providing such good service for so many years.
~ DaveMay 5, 2016 at 7:32 am #57311
Thanks for this review, Dave! I had stumbled upon their website while browsing online for opportunities to make a little extra money. I love the idea of being a local tour guide, as I am a native New Orleanian and feel like I would have a lot to offer. Have you switched to a more reputable tour company since then? I am interested in finding a better site that offers this as a legitimate service!
GMay 5, 2016 at 7:36 am #57314
Giana – I’ve focused on my own tour business since my problems with Tours by Locals. I have signed up for a few but haven’t pursued it that much – Vayable and Get Your Guide seem to be good companies. Here are a few other alternatives worth checking out:
~ DaveFebruary 12, 2017 at 3:22 pm #71157
J M Randall
I am a well traveled adult traveling with a group to Greece in September 2017 and have booked Tours by Locals for Athens. Can you recommend individuals who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, pleasant and dependable to lead private VIP tours in Santorini and Mykonos – non-touristy, outdoorsy, comprehensive tours covering history, contemporary culture, archeology? I have used private guides in Rome, Venice, Barcelona, etc. and have always been pleased and amazed at the talent, kindness and respectfulness of the smart and energetic folks who lead these outstanding tours. Thank you for what you all do so well!March 29, 2017 at 8:14 am #72273
Looking into starting in the tour guide business in PEI Canada. What company would you recommend that I approach to help me out getting started? I know you had a bad experience with Tours by locals but then again with such a big world and so many tour operators and clients it’s bound to happen to have a bad experience with one or the other company… Thanks for your help.June 27, 2017 at 2:35 am #76135
Hi! I have worked with tours by locals for about 6 year. In Italy the guide is a profession as in many other European states so this is literally my job with which I mantain my family. I was the most rated guide in florence and the one who had the highest number of tours in Florence. I had a list of about 140 feedbacks all of them were 5 stars, a few 4 stars and like 3 or 4 3 stars. They called my in september 2016 to make a you tube promotional video for them which I did with great pleasure.
Around April 2017 I got in contact with this guy, Gavin Mc Gee, who started to ask me about a feedback which did not appeared on my profile. It was a very general feedback of a customer I had 6 months before (!!) who said that I did not customize the tour enough for her kids. I didn’t even remember her. Gavin started to press me about that and aske me if I was willing to contribute to the refund. I said no, because the complaint was very general and anyhow they had the tour and it was 6 months ago!!!
Then came another time again Gavin with another feedback of a client who I had 8 months before. same thing. The customer argued we never saw a place which was never mentioned in the itinerary and said I was late, while I wasn’t!!! Same question: do you want to contribute? No I said. For obvious reasons: the complaints were fake!!!
Then I had a couple of 3 stars feedbacks, one from a customer for whom I had arranged 2 vans with drivers (cost 900€) and a tour in Florence with me cost 150€. The customer complained that I walked too fast. TBL in the person of Gavin Mc Gee asked me to contribute to the refund of 50% of the entire amount, so refunding also the cost of the driver!!! At that point after all this pressure I almost had a nervous breakdown 🙂 I told Gavin that I could give a refund of the total amount of the cost of MY TOUR only, even if I thought this was sinmply a way for the customer to have the tour free, but I cuold not certainly give the client the refund of the 2 drivers who I paid on their behalf and who did their job perfectly, since the customer was just criticizing MY TOUR, not the drivers!!
After this they put my account on hold and they transferred all my tours (AABOUT 6 fuLL DAY for a value of 1000€ roughly) to other guides without even asking me.
I am lucky that the guides in Florence knows me and so the next morning none of them accepted my tours.
I had a very unpleasant discussion at the phone with Gavin, who by the way continued to tell that this was their customer care policy.
I agree with who was saying above, that they are loosing the best guides with this approach and they do not respect our rights! Anyway I lost about 1000€ of work.
thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experience
ElenaJune 27, 2017 at 2:48 am #76143
Elena – truly sorry to hear about your experience – mirrors my own to some extent – quite satisfied with being a guide for years and then I actually experienced how they treat their guides when they find a review that isn’t glowing or 5 stars. Pathetic 🙁 I hope you can find enough work promoting your own tours or using another similar company.
~ DaveAugust 31, 2017 at 1:59 pm #77996
So it’s seems that Mr. David Mc Gee having no problems of cutting off some nice (guides) heads. This is my case too.
After 5 years of proficuos partnership with TbL, and many 5 stars comments (only one 4 stars in my 100 feedbacks), I’ve got so many trouble this year.
I had to refund about 4 tours, always because clients complaint for some silly reasons:
“….I did not the guidance they expected…” 50% refund
– I’ve always provided the same great job and my 100 positive comments telling a lot about the good services I’ve always delivered
“…I had not enough time to enjoy the tour and to see everything…You have to inform us better about the tour schedules….” 50% refund
– In all the booking and confirmation forms, there are clearly specified the itineraries and the last of the tours.
For the guest they accepting the agreements, there are no excuses about NOT respecting the timing of every single tour.
If people taking too much time in the first sights, probably there is not enough time to experience the next stops.
I’ve delivered so many extra hours, without charging one penny for this, also because the system NOT allowing us to calculate any eventual extra fees.
“…I could book a different guide for the same service, for much less price…” 50% refund
– So, why if clients might have so many “better” prices, they are NOT going to book with someone else rather than I?
Probably because some of them they learned about how to complaint and how to get easy refunds.
“….We expected you walking with us for much more times….” 50% refund
– As it is very well described in my bio and my tours information, I’m NOT a walking tour guide (but a driver/guide) and I’m NOT allowed to get into churches, nor museums, nor town, providing such type of guidance which, in many European country it is a business for other workers: the officially licensed walking tour guide.
“….We have paid too much for such type of tour….”
– Sure!!! You are booking through TbL system which charging you the 20% of fees, when you could easily make a research online and find most of the local guides, providing exactly the same great services for a very reasonable quotations.
So I’ve replied all the times to TbL staff to don’t give such easy refunds to the clients in order to NOT creating a precedent and making a bad vicious cycle.
I was ok with of taking a bad reviews (with the chance of reply of course) since sometimes “bad” experiences could happen.
The the answer has been always: “NO, because we take care of our reputation!”
So they are taking care of TbL fame, NOT allowing “bad” 1-2-3 stars reviews, keeping their good reputation, but using the money and the time of the guides.
No only, but it seems that TbL staff consistently influencing the comments system, which is NOT REAL anymore, but is filtered/moderated by TbL staff.
“….Money can’t buy happiness….”