This topic contains 12 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Elena 1 month 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 9:57 pm #77997
Hello everybody, it seems that Mr. David McGee looking familiar with cutting-off nice guides heads.
Is this something personal of McG or he’s just follows the company rules??
Anyway I want to share my bad experience too, since it is very similar to your stories.
After 5years of brilliant and proficuos partnership with TbL, dotted by several (more than hundred) success and comments 5 and 4 stars, this year (2017) TbL decided to easily refund “unhappy” customers, USING my account.
This is very easy, since the topics of the unstatisfaited clients are always silly details:
“….I’ve expected to have a guide that walking with us more time….” 50% of refund
– Hey?!?! I’m NOT a walking tour guide (but a knowledgeable driver), as it is VERY WELL specified in my bio and in my information.
For this kind of service in Europe, you need to hire officially licensed walking tour guide!!
“…I had to take care of an old couple with big motion troubles and an heavy scooter to handle every day, up and down to the vehicle….” 50% of refund
– Hey?!?! In my information there is clearly specified that I’m NOT preparred (vehicles for disbled) for people with wheelchairs and motion troubles.
But of course the tour was booked by a travel agent and she didn’inform the clients, nor I.
“…We could find much cheeper guides for the same type of service…” 50% of refund
– So, why people booking with some “expensive” guides if after the tour they complaint? Please book directly with the cheapest ones.
Ah, I understand, because they can get a great 5 stars service and than get easily refunded if after the tour they make some unsatisfaited comment.
Of course if TbL charging a 20% of fees(!!!) it will be very easy to find someone else (outside of TbL network) cheeper for the same service.
Only going looking for a driver/guide in Google and find dozens of guides charging a more reasonable price.
“…The last of the tour was not enough time for us to enjoy our day-trip…” 50% of refund
– If the clients not respecting the schedules and spending too much time in the first sights, there is probably not enough time to experience the second part of the trip as well.
Furthermore, in every single tour offered, there is CLEARLY specified the last of the tour, with NO chance of charging any eventual extra hours and the clients accept and the KNOW the terms and conditions, including the last of the tours.
I don’t remember how many times I’ve passed this time, without charging a penny for my life-time.
I spoke with TbL staff and please to don’t accept refund so easily, they can evidently create a precedent and createing a bad vicious cycle, playing the game of some (not all of course!!!) unfair clients.
I said I was ready to accept some bad reviews (bad days always could happen for everybody), but NOT available for refunds.
The TbL Gavin McGee answer was: “we need to take care of Tours by Locals reputation”.
Ok I understand, please do it if you want, but using YOUR money, don’t do it with the money of your guides!!!
I’ve lost more than 1000€ this year and always for silly topics and because TbL don’t accept bad reviews.
So it seems VERY CLEAR that the reputations of the company and the guides are based over NOT REAL reviews (since they are all MODERATED by the staff) and of course this “rating” it is definitelly NOT TRUSTWOTHY, since is NOT a free information.