Please sign in to post.

:(

Alright, this really broils my cheese:

I purchased the Belgium/Holland tour (May 17-27) back in August when it became available as an anniversary gift for my long-suffering wife. Apparently, I was just about the only one who did for those dates because it went on sale today. I would have saved $600 -- money which seems paltry actually means a great deal to me.

So I called the nice folks at Rick Steves' Tours and asked if I could get the discount as well. I figured being a return customer and all that maybe they would cut me some kind of break. Nope. I was told, very politely, that the discount is for new sign-ups only.

Really?

Yeah, I know -- it's their business to run as they please. My big $7.5k is a spit in the ocean of money that Rick Steves skinny-dips in. $600 should mean nothing to a guy of my means. I know, I know. But this whole experience has certainly soured me on purchasing any future tours with the company. It feels like the fine folks in Edmonds just gave me the finger and a hearty, "Thanks for the money, SUCKER!", complete with guffaw and self-congratulatory back-slapping.

I need go now: my cheese is burning.

Posted by
158 posts

That's a bummer. If it went on sale within 15 or even 30 days after your purchase, I could see expecting the discount. But August is a long time ago. Try to forget about it :)

Posted by
6539 posts

Mike, you paid what you thought was a reasonable price for what you were getting early on. In the end, you're going to get a value tour for the price you paid. Take a breather and just remember that you were perfectly happy before you saw the tour go on sale, and you can choose to be perfectly happy again if you let go of buyer's remorse. It happens all the time across many purchases (unfortunately businesses are not friends and they have their own reasons for doing things, not to be mean, but to be profitable).

You can always hedge next time and hope you can get a tour late in the game that is on sale, but you may end up missing the boat and see no sale, as well as miss your desired tour when it fills up (while you're still holding out for a sale, which is unpredictable). It's all a calculated risk. I believe since you signed up early, you received the $100 discount x 2, right? So they did give you a break for being a return customer. I don't think there's any cause to be angry or sore just because some other people will pay less than you are paying in an effort to nudge them to sign up. It's nothing personal. Come back after you've cooled off....obviously some emotional detachment is in order.

Sunk costs are just that...

Posted by
1391 posts

You are getting the exact same tour at the price you were willing to pay for it in August. Nothing has changed.

I understand your frustration, but this isn't a flipping of the bird from Rick Steves and his staff. It's basic economics. Sometimes prices go up. Sometimes they go down.

Try to enjoy your trip and try not to feel like you were ripped off.

Posted by
308 posts

It's similar to buying airfare. Once you buy the ticket there is a possibility that the price will go down. That is why I really try to avoid looking at prices after I have purchased my plane ticket. I never want to lose my vacation excitement.

I really hope you don't let this put a damper on your trip.

Posted by
1185 posts

Yes, but if the cost of the trip had gone up you would not have had to pay the difference. How would you feel if a month before the trip they told you the cost had gone up $600 and you had to pay that. You can not have you cake and eat it.

Posted by
2525 posts

You should have received the returnee discount as a incentive to purchase tis tour and paid what appeared to be a fair price at the time. The price reduction is meant to encourage more folks to sign up for your tour not reward folks already committed. Sad situation if the tour must be cancelled due to lack of demand...but the very large price cut may work magic....Econ 101.

Posted by
1068 posts

I must agree with many of the above comments. Not only does that happen with airfare, it happens with most things in the world. If you buy a car in August, in Oct it is last year's model and heavily discounted....... car dealers do not offer to refund the difference between your purchase price and the current price. This happens all of the time with things in my life. A Sony camera I want was just discounted $200; think anyone wanted to give me a refund? Prices go up and down and I agree it isn't fun when they go down. But it is absolutely the way of the world and not unique to RS and company. If he started charging more for the tour would you offer to send him more cash? I would enjoy the tour, realize it is a good value, and (IMHO) there is nothing wrong with his business model.

Posted by
4770 posts

I'm sorry, but your ire is off-base. Plenty of Rick Steves tours sell-out. You avoided being shut-out of such an event. I have waited as close as four weeks to book a cruise, in order to get the lowest price. But I'm not going to say I got screwed if the continuously decreasing price fills up the trip and ... we CAN'T GO, at any price.

Can you say ... Yield Management? Welcome to the internet, Mike. You did not get screwed.

Posted by
366 posts

Hi Mike:

I feel your pain I signed up for a tour a while back and then it was discounted and I did not get the discount. I was pretty upset. It does seem really unfair that if you sign up early you get stiffed if they decide to offer a discount later. But then I decided that I got more than the $200 discount with the repeat offender :-) credit as I am now up to $450. So I came out ahead in the long run. I still think it stinks and that I should have been able to get the discount, but what the heck. I really did enjoy the tour.

So go and enjoy the tour with your wife and have a great time .Think of it this way, when you take your next tour, and you will as you have drank the cool aid, this one will add to your repeat offender discount. Pretty soon it will add up to more than any discount offered.

Make sure you do a trip report as I am thinking of taking this tour.

Posted by
6539 posts

RS tours have fairly customer-friendly policies and they give repeat clients $100 off their trip cost when they book by a certain date. You only put down a $400 down payment upfront, and the rest is due within 60 days of the tour date. The OP could even switch out this tour for another one if he wanted because the trip insurance is quite generous.

From RS tour webpage: "All our tours include Tour Cancellation/ Interruption protection. You can even switch to a different date or destination — with no charge or penalty — up to 60 days before your departure date."

As for this comment "there is no personal consideration when tours go on sale"...the OP engaged in a contract to pay a certain amount for a tour to take place in May. There are no personal considerations when it comes to contracts - it's a legal document that both parties agreed to.

Posted by
1536 posts

You mean to tell us that the already appealing tour on May 17th now includes both a discount and the added bonus of the Beebes in anniversary party mode as company?

Now I need to take a look at that trip myself!

Posted by
2246 posts

Nope. Sorry, Mike, but this is part of what I have taken to calling The Amazon Effect. Complain and they will yield to your demand, especially if you are a Prime member. Instant order, instant delivery, instant returns for full credit. Everybody gets it from Amazon, so everybody feels extra hurt and vocal when they can't convince an "old school" seller to perform the same magic. Those of us in the non roboticized, non algorithm end of business will have no sympathy for you. First world problem?

I'm glad I don't work for RS, since I'd be offended at your back slapping comment...

Posted by
2402 posts

Sorry Mike, faulty logic. You got the $100 off for an early sign up. Had the tour filled (as many have-check it out) it would not have gone on sale and you'd enjoy the tour at a fair price (and the additional $50 discount per return tour). In order to fill it, this one is discounted. As others have pointed out, how many things can you buy and get the price you paid adjusted downward when it goes on sale? I can think of two travel related-hotels and rental cars. I keep an eye out for sales after I've booked, and rebook at lower prices if available. The difference is, obviously, there is no money paid in advanced.

Posted by
2258 posts

Sorry to pile on, Mike, but I too think you're wrong here, to expect a company, including RS Tours, to lower the price you agreed to, because they offered a late sign-up discount to try to fill the tour and make it profitable. To allow you a retroactive discount at this point would have the opposite effect. Any of us who follow RS Tours know that for some few unfilled groups, impossible to identify way in advance, a discount MAY be available in order to fill that group. People taking advantage of that will need to arrange their schedule, flights, and any other arrangements, very close to travel time. I'd like to add that last year I had signed up for an RS Turkey Tour, which the company was very sad to cancel due to political events. The RS company and staff really bent over backwards to assist me in developing an alternative plan, including covering the travel expenses I needed to incur to adjust my plans.

Posted by
374 posts

Wow! My cheese is toast now!

Interesting viewpoints all 'round -- and all calmly and intelligently discussed as well!

So yeah, I will -definitely- enjoy the tour, no matter what: I paid me monies and I'm gonna have me a good ol' time. I'll even have $600 -more- fun just to make up for the lost discount.

Also, I promised my wife I'd behave on this tour, so apart from maybe the coffee shop, no (observable) shenanigans. Much.

I'm sorta looking at this whole experience like getting a beautiful bouquet of roses with a giant tarantula in it. On one hand, "AHHHHHHHHH!!", and on the other, "Hey -- free tarantula!"

Or something like that. Yeah . . .

Posted by
1068 posts

Mike, glad to hear you are going to just go and enjoy the tour. I don't think we were trying to pile it on. Rather it does hurt when something is discounted and we miss it (I could have bought a nice flash for my other camera with $200 had I waited a bit to get my Sony.) It is just the way of the world. I'd use the advice that is frequently posted here about airfare...... once you book at a price you can live with, don't look back and don't check it again. It is over and done. I too am taking the Belgium/Holland tour next year (on a different date) and think it will be a blast. Enjoy!

Posted by
2203 posts

I would have done the same thing. I am a frequent and loyal customer to a few businesses, and I have called one or two of them on occasion to ask for a concession that I saw being offered to new customers. Based on my history, I usually receive the same concession if I ask for it.

I would be a little miffed about being treated so dismissively. Especially when the price dropped in February for a May tour. If the price had dropped in March or April, I would feel differently.

Posted by
6539 posts

The OP can confirm, but there does not seem to be evidence of dismissive treatment (the OP said he was told "politely..."). Every business has its own policies about price guarantees. This company's guarantee happens to be that your price is locked in when you sign the tour contract and put down your deposit. If you agree to that price, that means the tour is worth exactly that much to you - no more, no less. RS doesn't give anyone expectations of getting a lower price later. Rather they guarantee that the price won't increase for the tour after you put down a deposit.

Posted by
98 posts

I'm sorry they weren't willing to give you the discount. If I were you, I would be disappointed too.

Posted by
1042 posts

I admit to having jumped on a couple of late booking discounted tours but I probably made up my savings in paying higher air fare since I didn't have the luxury of shopping around and waiting for prices to drop.
We all like to save some money but the tours really are worth the full price.
You (and hopefully your wife!) will have a grand time!

Posted by
4454 posts

Glad to see your plans to relax and enjoy the trip. It's a great tour, and if you're still resentful, well, there's always the coffee shop!

Posted by
337 posts

This year I thought I wait to signup for a trip until one I was interested in went 'on sale'. Well, one did but the timing did not work for me. So.... I'm signing up for the regular price on a trip later in the year.

Years ago I signed up for a tour well ahead of time. A few months later the Euro took a 10% dive. I assume RS made a few extra dollars thanks to the currency change. But, I still enjoyed the tour and considered it a good value.

We often buy things at a certain price only to find that months later I could have gotten it for less. Well... Like my old grand pappy said, ''Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you."

Relax and enjoy your tour. If you go into it with the idea that the RS organization gave you the finger and thinks of you as a sucker, It will be the self fulfilling prophecy. And, if you do not like their policy on tour 'sales', you certainly are free not to use their services again. There are a number of firms (mostly not travel related) who I think did not treat me right, and their payment was the last dollar they ever got from me. But, really, relax and enjoy the tour. Otherwise, you will be cheating yourself out of far more than $600.

I'll even have $600 -more- fun just to make up for the lost discount."

Even if you managed to get the discount, wouldn't $600 more fun still be worth having? Just a thought.

Posted by
6539 posts

You can take "revenge" by signing up on a discounted tour another year - there are always discounts for some tours right about this time of year or so. SharYn made a good point that there is a trade-off to doing that too. You have to be fairly flexible and ready to jump without a lot of advance planning (if in the off-season, the airfares should cooperate). But, in all seriousness, the RS folks are a good bunch. I've only taken one tour (I'm very much in the independent traveler mold) and it was really a great tour (Village Turkey).

Posted by
174 posts

I once had a tour booked that ended up with a nice discount later (albeit on a slightly different date). I was a bit bummed, but plane tickets were booked and in the scheme of things, a few hundred bucks a) doesn't mean nothing in the scheme of an expensive Europe trip, b) isn't worth ruining the excitement of the trip.

Mike, you did the right thing in at least trying to see if they'd reimburse you. In my experience, the RS crew is very helpful and will bend over backwards for you. That is, the policy is in the fine print, and they'd lose money if everyone was just able to be reimbursed. From an economic standpoint, you paid the price you felt was satisfactory for your tour. You're welcome to take the tour, cancel it, or take it and never use their services again.

You also may know that the "tour sales" come with a trade off. If you book in advance, you guarantee your spot, have more time to plan, research and save for the trip (plus you get discounts and benefit from cheaper airfare). If you wait for a sale that may or may not happen, your choice of dates is limited, airfare may be higher, and you have less time to prep. For most people who need to book this time off way in advance, the former is the better alternative, at the risk of saving a few hundred bucks.

Posted by
65 posts

I feel your pain, I'm going on that tour on an earlier date and no discount for me either. But look at it this way, your tour will probably have fewer members even though they are now offering a discount and that could really add to the pleasure of your tour. I hope so :)

Posted by
31219 posts

Mike,

Don't complain, it could be worse. To book two spaces on that tour, you could have to deal with an extra $2000 in currency exchange, putting the total cost over $8600!

Holland & Belgium is a wonderful tour! I think you'll enjoy it.

Posted by
4506 posts

Like airfare, once you click buy, don't check the price again. it could go up or down.

The tour doesn't have enough participants so they are offering a discount to get more members. That is better than the alternative ... some companies just cancel trips if they don't get enough participants. Think about it ... a lot of costs are fixed regardless of the number of participants (guides, the bus, etc.). if the group is too small, the trip will lose money.

RS is pretty fair in its policies. I cancelled my trip in 2016 (just over 60 days out) due to an unexpected family medical issue. RS didn't refund my deposit (I did not expect them too), but they did offer to credit the deposit to a 2017 trip and I am taking a trip this year. I thought that policy was very fair.

Posted by
11450 posts

I can understand your feelings.. I would feel miffed too.

I know I would never book too far out knowing prices can be reduced closer to date..

Posted by
11613 posts

Mike, I can't even get that kind of concession from my cable provider.

Deep breaths, lesson learned, now you have information for future tour purchases.

Posted by
3444 posts

Cancellation options are the same for every RS tour:

If you have not made your final payment, you call the tour office and tell them you are not going. You are (usually) out your deposit. If you paid a single supplement, they will refund it if asked.

If you have paid your final payment, what you get back depends on how soon the trip is. You have to cancel at least 60 days before the tour starts to get anything back and there are conditions. Medical issues allow cancellation closer to departure but require documentation.

If you have to cancel during the trip, you get a prorated refund amount.

Of course you can move to a different tour if you want with no loss of what has already been paid as long as it is before final payment is due on the original tour. I don't know if you get the current discount offered on the tour you transfer to.

Posted by
3444 posts

It is disappointing when the tour you already purchased goes on sale. First, you paid more than you could have if you waited. But the other thing you have to think about is that the tour is on sale because not that many have signed up for it. This means it could easily be cancelled. While rare, it does happen. Putting the tour on sale insures that more people who were undecided might now take that tour and allow it to continue without being cancelled due to lack of participants. RS will work with you to get you on a tour that works for you when a cancellation happens, but trying to reschedule vacation time, any already booked travel arrangements and so on is a real problem. One positive of being on a now discounted tour is that it usually means there will not be a full group on the tour making for less crowded situations during group activities.

Posted by
42 posts

Hi Mike: I completely sympathize with you, and would feel the same cheese broiling ire on finding this out. That being said, a) the logic, as pointed out by many of the previous posters, is sound and just, and b) life in general is a gamble, just think you could have easily ended up on the winning side, laughing at all the suckers who waited for the discount only to find it sold out. One can't win 'em all.... But I think it is good you vented your frustration on this forum. Sometimes it just feels better to rant a little - so hopefully, now that you got this off your chest, you and your wife can go enjoy a lovely anniversary trip!

Posted by
7315 posts

Remember that those who buy the trip now have to pay much more in airfare since it's only a couple of months out--so it evens out.

Speaking of air fare-- east coast and west coast people are getting all the breaks as the majors compete with WOW, Norwegian, the Gulf State airlines, but guess who's making up the difference in price--fares are flaring out of control in the middle of the country! Just venting!

Posted by
308 posts

Bets, I feel your pain about airfare from the middle of the U.S. I just got back from an amazing trip to Paris but I would hesitate to tell anyone what I paid for airfare!

Posted by
1068 posts

I am a frequent and loyal customer to a few businesses, and I have called one or two of them on occasion to ask for a concession that I saw being offered to new customers. Based on my history, I usually receive the same concession if I ask for it.

Not sure this has anything to do with the OP. This has nothing to do with old or new customers..... only when the OP decided to book the trip. This is not about whether the OP has or has not taken other RS tours, the discount was available to anyone booking at a certain time. In fact, the company rewards loyal/return people by taking off $50 per prior tour and the sum is additive. I am a fairly satisfied RS trip taker and appreciate how the company already treats us: discounts for booking early, discounts for trips taken, fairly easy to move or change reservations etc. But to each his/her own. If you think RS is a bear there are plenty of other tour companies. I have tried several and generally choose RS if it is close to a tour I am interested in taking.

Posted by
1862 posts

Mike,
Maybe you will get the nicer rooms with lovely balcony views.

When I first read your post, I didn't reply, and I wanted to take some time to think about it. Would I have called the RS office and asked for the same thing you did? ABSOLUTELY. Would I have been disappointed with the answer? ABSOLUTELY. You can just consider it a ding against the brand (in your mind) and determine if the great things of the brand outweigh the dings.

We all judge a brand by how we feel we have been treated. If the many posts that explain how fares can vary and how sales can happen after one makes a purchase make you feel better, then that is a good thing, since you have no other choice. But, if this continues to bug you and you otherwise have a great time on your trip, then I would suggest waiting until you see the "Filling fast" indicator on a trip before booking in the future (to avoid seeing it go on sale) or having it canceled (from lack of sign-ups).

There are two dings against the brand in my experience (a tour guide who asked to borrow cash euros from us to pay the bus driver, until he could hit the next ATM, then we had to remind him about it over 24 hours later....hmmm). And, when I briefly met Rick when he spoke at Vanderbilt...he was not as charming in person as I had built him up to be, even in our 60 second interface. But, I still respect the brand, and I would not hesitate to book a "filling fast" tour in the future.

Offsetting those two small dings: The RS staff really stood behind its merchandise by replacing a suitcase when I inquired where I could buy a replacement wheel. That made a great brand impression.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we all keep little scorecards in our head that determine our future purchase decisions.

EDIT: One thing the RS staff might consider in similar future circumstances (people who have paid full fare and then their tour goes on a significant sale), is to offer a free hotel night for early fly-in....could soften the blow for someone like Mike and not cost $600 to ETBD.

Posted by
1812 posts

Actually we just experienced a tour company that refunded money when prices dropped.

Last summer, I received an email notification of a 2-for-1 sale with Lindblad Expeditions for a National Geographic trip to the Galapagos islands, for late October-early November. There were limited cabins, so we booked immediately. The lowest price for that expedition was $6700 per person (going up to $10,000), so 2-for-1 was a significant savings.

Imagine our surprise when we got on board the ship, and started talking to other travelers, and learned that everybody on board had received a 2-for-1 price! There were people who had booked months before the sale, and had already paid full price, and got a refund! Can you imagine getting a $10,000 refund from a tour company? We were on the next-to-last sailing of the National Geographic Endeavor, so perhaps this was a farewell gesture for the ship. But nevertheless, we were very impressed.

Posted by
672 posts

Definitely good business by Lindblad Expeditions. I just signed up for their mailings.

Posted by
1862 posts

Charlene,
Thank you for sharing that great story about Lindblad/National Geographic and how they really value their customers, and are committed to building long-term relationships by being extremely fair.

We are huge fans of National Geographic/Lindblad, after traveling with them to Antarctica a few years ago. Everything was top-notch in every way! No wonder there were so many repeat customers on that journey. And, we have already signed up for another National Geographic/Lindblad journey ourselves. (Some of their journeys currently have a free airfare promotion.)

I hope that Mike winds up being surprised and delighted, as I hope Rick Steves' tour group winds up doing something to delight him, if not a refund, at least the very best rooms at each hotel (or funding a special dinner for him and his wife on one of the on-your-own evenings, or if he is flying in a day early, covering his hotel for that night). Mike always came across on this Forum as a big Rick Steves' fan, and what is important for companies to understand is that word of mouth (from happy customers) is truly priceless. The worst thing a brand can lose is one of their raving (in a good way) loyal fans. Tauck Tours knows that (they sell out just about every tour and the majority of their guests are repeat customers, and you see very little advertising from them....they really don't need to advertise....word of mouth, then catalogs by mail to those who express an interest pretty much does it). National Geographic/Lindblad is very similar. Happy, delighted customers just cannot wait to tell others how wonderful their travel provider is. I was just at a dinner this past weekend, and two of our table mates (recently retired) were telling us they had taken 4 Lindblad/National Geographic journeys, and there are likely more in store for them. We had a I-Love-Lindblad fest right there at the dinner table, with other couples listening :)

Posted by
68 posts

I feel the pain, but consider all the good that the RS company (and especially Rick) does for the betterment of humanity. Your money is going to good use; be glad :-). Plus, you are getting an awesome tour!

Posted by
688 posts

We just signed up for our third RS tour this coming October. I waited as long as I was comfortable in booking it. Since we had already purchased airfare I was sort of pigeon-holed into a particular time frame and I couldn't risk having the tour sell out. Plenty of tours sell out so you run that risk by waiting. By signing up far in advance you gave yourself plenty of options in buying airfare. You had time to search out the best price for that. It's a trade off. Wait last minute for tour sales but then you may pay more for airfare.

I hope you are enjoying your tour. Life is too short to be upset over things out of your control. Your tour will go to wonderful places!

Posted by
58 posts

How would you have felt if the tour was filled up if you waited to book? Waiting for discounts is like waiting for a train - no guarantees it will happen on your timetable. I agree with many of the others who feels your objections are not valid. Although we would all appreciate an extra $600 discount on our tours, I feel like I paid my money in good faith for a world-class tour (according to others) and if Rick Steves tours needed to attract a few more clients to fill the tour, that's his business. Do you buy a ticket from an airline and ask for a discount because you paid more than the fellow sitting next to you? Sorry - we are all subject to the "roll of the dice" in this type of business. I'm sure you would see other tour companies doing the same thing. I hope you can swallow your feelings and enjoy your trip anyway. There was a $500 "last minute" discount on my upcoming tour as well, but I'm just happy some lucky people got the opportunity to take this great tour!

Posted by
1047 posts

Forgive me if someone already mentioned this, but didn't Rick Steves refund you $100 after you paid for the tour due to the decline in the Euro? I seem to remember a :) then. Not that I watch or are a fan of FOX News, but lets be "Balanced and Fair."

Posted by
803 posts

Guys,
This is an old thread. Mike is well over his chagrin and is enjoying his trip right now.