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Cologne Tours - think twice

COLOGNE TOURS (http://www.cologne-tours.com)
“Your autobus company with more than 20 years of experience from Niederkassel. We offer you shuttle-service, cruising holidays and airport transfer.”
I would like the TRAVEL community to please be aware of the attitude of this company towards REPEAT clients: think twice before accepting any service they are offering. For a detailed motivation, please carry on reading the report below:
I signed a contract in October 2015 with COLOGNE TOURS for an 11-day chartered coach service travelling from Venice to Paris in June/July 2016. The FULL payment was made in February 2016. It was the fourth time that we would use COLOGNE TOURS.
Unfortunately this time things went horribly wrong:
• The company had the final itinerary with ALL the necessary detail to plan this journey 5 weeks before the start of the tour. COLOGNE TOURS clearly made NO attempt to plan the route before the time OR to supply the driver with the necessary technology and maps. The driver got lost on umpteen occasions and in the end we guided him via GOOGLE maps on our cell phones.
• After a few hours driving on the first day from Venice to the Falzarego Pass in the Dolomites, the bus already started overheating. This problem became progressively worse. I was in contact with the owner of the company from the very first day to express my concerns but received NO support at all.
• By Day 7 we were travelling from Manarola to Milan – 240km. The 240km took us 6 and half hours and we missed our appointment, which was fully paid in advance to see the Last Supper of Da Vinci in Milan.
• I was constantly in contact by email and telephonically with the owner in Cologne on this day and asked for the bus to be replaced in Milan in order for this tour to carry on without further disasters. At one of the breakdown stops, when the bus was once again overheating, 3 other truck and bus drivers told our bus driver that this bus would never make it over the Gotthard Pass that day.
• My request was TOTALLY disregarded. We had a lunch appointment at a very special hotel at the World heritage Site in Sacro Monte at 13:00. With the MANY breakdowns that day, we arrived at 17:00 for “lunch”.
• At this stage COLOGNE TOURS decided that their bus had to be serviced at Como and that a replacement vehicle would drive us into Switzerland – what a relief!
• BUT… the next day the original bus was back to continue our journey. AND GUESS WHAT… after a half an hour the coach had the SAME problem of overheating. We had to stop every 20 minutes on our way to the Rhine Falls so the engine could cool down.
• I called the owner once again and demanded that they supply this group with a replacement coach for the rest of the tour, since we have now missed out on a FULL day’s activities, many extra hours in the bus on previous days and lots of stress. She refused.
• After stopping and starting and a bus that was overheating we at last reached Strasbourg very late. This was the 8th day of having to cope with a bus which was not equipped and I dare to say, not services properly to take on an eleven day journey which was FULLY paid for in advance.
• On the morning of the 9th day, COLOGNE TOURS replaced the bus for the last 3 days of the tour.
On our return, I contacted COLOGNE TOURS to request some compensation for the losses my clients suffered in time and missed activities.
Considering that this transport company had the full itinerary when we signed the contract in October 2015 as well as the detail of the terrain we would be travelling. I regard their poor service as breach of contract.
Their reply was that they were sorry and that they would not be willing to offer any compensation since:
• we were the last Euro Tour they undertook and
• that the tour already cost them more than what we had paid.
Now THAT is poor service and a disappointment!
Any advice other than not to use this company ever again in future?

Posted by
16866 posts

So, they are a bus company and you are a travel agent/tour organizer, correct? The specifics of your contract must provide some answer. Does it guarantee on-time arrivals, or prescribe any particular grace period, or otherwise describe how problems will be handled? If they no longer plan to provide this type of bus service in the future, you don't really have any bargaining leverage. I assume you could sue them, but only if the terms of the contract support your definition of a breach.