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Viator Ripoffs

I was just scammed by Viator to the tune of $600, and after a quick google search have learned that I am not alone - especially with regards to booking tours in Rome. I'd like to start a discussion on this topic and help other travelers to avoid the pitfalls of dealing with unscrupulous vendors.

Here are the details of how Viator (and their parent company Tripadvisor) pocketed $600 without providing anything to me and my family:

I booked a Rome tour through Viator for my family of four. It was quite expensive. I went to the Viator web page and found a tour on June 17th. When I went to purchase it, the web page said that particular tour was sold out on that day, but "here are some similar tours that are available on that day". So I clicked on one and purchased it. Somewhere along the line, Viator's web page changed the date to June 4th. As soon as I received my confirmation email I contacted Viator and explained their mixup. I requested they revise the date to June 17th as I had entered into their system. This was literally within a few minutes of placing my order. I was told that all sales are final, no changes, no refunds. I proceeded to spend the next six hours of my European vacation with numerous Viator support people and supervisors trying to rectify their mistake, to no avail. Viator tried to wash their hands of this saying that it was not their responsibility and that it was in the hands of their third-party tour operator. This is not true, because I purchased the ticket from Viator's web page. They sold me this product. This has left me with such a feeling of being robbed. I'm out over $600 and received absolutely nothing in return. It is worth noting that I never entered the Date June 4th. The only date I entered into Viator's web page was June 17th. I was scammed!

The simple correction is for Viator to honour my request to change the date of the tour to June 17th - as I had entered to start the process.

Date of experience: June 04, 2024

Have you had a similar experience?

Posted by
1694 posts

I'm sorry that happened to you. This is one reason why a lot of posters here will recommend booking directly with the tour companies instead of through Viator. You see, Viator isn't a tour company. It's an aggregator/reselller. That is, they resell other companies' tours and have to abide by those companies' policies. The actual company operating the tour might have had more authority to change the date. That said, it's unfortunate that Viator was unhelpful. They might have given you the information to contact the actual company.

Was it earlier today that you were trying to do the booking? I'm wondering, because I've had the experience when I've been looking at bookings, and when I've selected something and switched pages, the date defaulted back to the current day's date, and I've had to reset the date I wanted to book for. I'm wondering if that is what happened to you. It's annoying and frustrating, for sure.

I'll often use Viator to research tours, but I'll then sometimes go to the actual tour company's site to book. (It's usually noted somewhere in the description--often at the bottom.) Perhaps it's not too late to see if you can find out the company's info and contact them to try to make the change directly.

Good luck!

Posted by
6663 posts

Welcome to the forum!
I am sorry this happened to you
I believe most members here would have advised against going thru a third party reseller such as Viator

Viator does not run any tours they simply sell other companies products

Did you carefully review your order before clicking”BUY”
Seems like you might have noticed incorrect date at that point

Your best recourse at this time may be do a charge back with your credit card company

Posted by
7557 posts

I agree with the possibility that you may not have re-checked all the booking information before you pressed the final "Confirm and Buy" button. Something like that happened (I think ... ) to me with Viator in Poland, but it happened that the tour had a Change Booking button that permitted me to make the correction at zero cost, two months before the trip. I wonder if the close-in date was a factor in your disappointment?

I was quite satisfied with the Viator product there, and the actual vendor (when I tried to book it online myself) told me, yeah, we know this exact trip is NOT on our own website. Go figure! I also used Viator recently in Taiwan, and was pleased with the result. I do prefer to always book anything directly with the provider, including hotels. But in these cases, Viator worked better for me.

Posted by
1806 posts

You also have the option of contacting your credit card company and disputing any charge if you can document all that you stated in your post. I for one have used Viator quite a lot and never had any issues with them. While you can book directly with a tour company, there is no guarantee they will treat you any better. In fact, the odds of getting responses from them are less.

I know you probably do not want to hear this, but more than likely you made an error when booking your second choice. The dates are posted plainly on the site that you were scheduling and also a calendar is there for you to select the specific date. Any date not available is lightly printed and you cannot select it.

Since you changed from one tour to another it is possible the date defaulted to today's date. All the people you are talking to are probably just script readers who are use to people cancelling at the last minute wanting to get a refund. Unfortunately, you appear to them as one of those. The people you talk to have no access to investigating the system and seeing exactly when and how you processed your order.

I suggest that if you have any emails or any confirmation that will show your actions with time stamps, your chances with your credit card company will improve. Especially if the charge is the same day on which the tour happens. Also, where are you right this moment? If you are not in Rome, use your CC to buy something at a physical location.

Once when I had a bogus charge because some employee of a hotel in France used my CC number I had to send via email, (10 years ago), the person investigating said they needed proof it wasn't me. I said look at the charges on the same day, I bought groceries in Florida during the day and other things in Florida the next. How could I have a huge dinner in France in between. He got the point and the charge was taken off.

So if you were not in Rome on the 4th, why would you book a tour on the 4th. If you have reservations in Rome around the 17th and can document those reservations, that will strengthen your case with the CC as well.

Good luck.

Posted by
329 posts

Dispute the charge with your credit card. It looks like you have a good case. I had something similar with TAP Airlines, disputed the charge, and got the credit from my credit card.

Posted by
10349 posts

Contact the actual tour operator and let them know that Viator inserted the wrong date and see if the tour operator will put you in the he correct tour.
Yes, it defaulted. That happens with all kinds of reservations. I’ve had it happen for planes and hotels but caught it most of the time.

One problem searching with an American account on Google is that it’s nearly impossible to get beyond the Viator and Get Your Guide stranglehold on the search engine. I couldn’t find the names of the actual tour providers when looking for an English-speaking guide for a visiting family member. I resorted to searching in Google.French and found all the independent guides and companies, including those who could speak in English.

Posted by
16093 posts

rglilly, do you know who the actual tour provider is? If not could you link the tour you booked on Viator? We might be able to drill down into the info provided to see if it's there.

Posted by
16874 posts

It appears that when you clicked on one of the alternate tour providers mentioned by Viator, it was re-set to today’s date, June 4, and you did not notice until you received the confirmation. I believe Bets has offered the best first step to try—-contact the actual tour provider ( the name should be somewhere on the Viator page or the confirmation), explain what occurred, and ask to have your payment applied to the June 17 tour.

Posted by
23465 posts

My guess is the mistake was made by not understanding the European date -- day, month, year. The US used month, day, year. Most of the auto fills will use the European pattern. We have been burned by that system a couple of times by being too quick to check dates. You need to get to the tour company. That has been our solution in the past.

Posted by
3069 posts

Something similar happened to me. Did the persons on the phone have specific foreign accents? We tried to book a hotel and the first link that came up was NOT the hotel chain, although the website looked like it was. They booked us into the wrong city. Then they claimed that there was no refund available. The accent was quite noticeable.

So: Ensure that the website does not have dodgy issues. Part of the problem was that I was doing the booking in the car on a phone version, and my normal clues were hidden.

Posted by
6089 posts

The aggravating thing with Viator, is that when doing a search for a site/activity, they are typically the first website that pops up. So, many end up booking with them at a higher price than they would be paying if they'd book direct. Sometimes it can be a struggle to even find the actual website for a venue because Viator and Tripadvisor, etc., come up first. A person really needs to do some searching to find the best options. For example, for New Zealand, there is a group called New Zealand Travel Tips that has links to just about anything that can be done in New Zealand. They also have a huge forum of travelers and locals that provide advice and help with itinerary planning and then to top it off, they have links to the actual activity for booking, and typically with a discount. This group, started during COVID by a local living in Auckland was so helpful in travel planning. And then if someone has an issue with their travels whether its forgotten items or directions or problems with booking an activity, they step in to help. I find having a local person helps in many situations. But, of course when someone searches for activities, Viator pops up.

Posted by
1806 posts

The aggravating thing with Viator, is that when doing a search for a site/activity, they are typically the first website that pops up. So, many end up booking with them at a higher price than they would be paying if they'd book direct. Sometimes it can be a struggle to even find the actual website for a venue because Viator and Tripadvisor, etc., come up first.

This is because the provider spends no money of their own on advertising of their own site or business. They rely on Trip Advisor and Viator as a source of business, that is why they pay the commissions. I have found that booking with the provider directly saves very little money for the consumer. If they do have a website their prices are pretty much the same as Viator, they just make a better profit margin if you book with them directly, but very few give you their profits in any real discount.

It is rare to find a guide or tour that discounts for booking directly.

Posted by
6089 posts

Re. Viator vs booking directly, I’ve seen the prices lower to begin with, not a discount applied to the price.

When I say Viator comes up first, I’m rarely looking for tours since we travel quite independently, if we use a guide, we typically will meet them at the site.

I’m talking about when I just want hours or ticket info for a museum or church, do a search and Viator and TripAdvisor comes up first, and with prices higher than the museum or church, just for admission.

Posted by
4293 posts

I thought the poster wanted to start a discussion, but they haven't been back.

I've only used Viator a couple of times and been satisfied both times and sometimes the price is lower. Same as using a a service like Expedia for hotels and rental cars. I always compare it to the actual website and it's hit and miss which will be cheaper. But to the OP's issue, I too, wouldn't be surprised if the date switched back when they clicked on another tour. It even happens with hotel bookings.

Posted by
2 posts

I'm still here. I've been monitoring all of the thoughtful responses and intend to reply more thoroughly when I have a spare monent. I filed a report with my credit card. Thank you to those of you who suggested this. We'll see how they respond.

For those of you that haven't had any problems with Viator, consider yourselves fortunate. The problems seem to arise when there are issues that haven't gone smoothly and require some customer service. This is where things go off the rails with this company.