Anderson Tours / Cussing, rude tour guide, shortened tour length
On Wednesday, March 28th my two children, my mother and I took a tour to Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury with Anderson Tours. We paid 246 pounds ($388.70) for the tour.
Although the designated pickup time was between 7:25 and 7:45 AM, the coach didn’t arrive until 8:15. We received a brief good morning and were told that we needed to be back in London by 6 or 6:30. The website and tour information says we were to be back around 6:30, and since we were already over an hour late getting picked up, and this was a long distance tour, we were concerned as to why our tour had suddenly been shortened by at least a half hour on the front end and a half hour on the back end.
We received a quick introduction to Stonehenge as we aapproached the site. It was visibly crowded and we were all shocked when the tour manager said we needed to be back on the bus within 45 minutes. We took our audio guides and did our best to hurry around Stonehenge through the crowds. There were very long lines in the gift shop and at the toilets, and we were unable to do both, so we bought a postcard and hurried back to the coach. Right outside of the coach was a toilet and two people from our tour ran to use them. They returned 1-2 minutes after the designated return time and the tour manager was somewhat critical, saying that next time we should all use the toilet before going on our tours in order to prevent a delay.
During the drive to Glastonbury the tour manager made a loud, personal phone call in which he complained about his job. He discussed an incident where the “damned company” sent him to meet an American couple on a Sunday, but really he should have met them on Monday. He complained incessantly about tour bus drivers, working conditions, and stated that he “disliked working with Americans.”
We arrived in Glastonbury, and our tour manager told us to please keep it quick; we only had an hour and 45 minutes until we had to be back on the bus. At the entry to the Abbey he handed me the admission stickers and told me to hand them out to everyone. He had no advice as to where to start, or whether we had time to take the walk to the Tor. He did say that the Chalice Well was 15 minutes away, but he simply left us all standing there. We were all a bit confused and two women on the tour did not speak English; they were becoming distressed. By the time we got into the Abbey and figured out where we were going we were down to an hour and half until we had to be on the bus.
One of the women was 8 minutes late getting back to the bus and as she boarded the coach she immediately said she was so sorry, she could not find the coach. The tour manager was clearly angry at her, telling her that she needed to apologize to the rest of the travelers, and that due to her lateness we now had less time at the next stop.
He began urging the driver to hurry, urging him to take short cuts and to drive faster in order make up for lost time. At this point he became agitated at the traffic, often cussing and complaining. Please remember that my two children and my mother were on the coach. In trying to please him, the driver began driving much more quickly and the ride became very rough. Because of the rough ride and the fact that the air conditioning vents were not working over our seats, my youngest child and I began to feel quite sick.
Once again, as we aapproached Avebury, he delivered a brief and uninterested commentary. He explained that we needed to be back on the bus in 30 minutes or else our driver would have to be replaced. He said he would have to call for another driver to drive our coach home and that we would have to wait by the side of the road for 45 minutes until a new driver could reach us. As the coach pulled into the lot, the manager jumped up saying “Well, go, get out, be quick!” but he didn’t tell us where to go. As soon as we got off the bus my son vomited, whereupon the tour manager commented “I see your son has trouble on coaches.” The bus driver kindly brought us a bottle of water and fixed our air conditioning vents.
Once again we were left wandering around without maps or directions, not knowing where to go. At the Red Lion we were a little surprised to see the tour manager drinking wine and smoking, as that is not considered professional behavior in the United States. At this time we stumbled upon The Henge Shop, and learned that there were guides, maps and commentary that would have been available to us, had we known. Boarding the coach, a female passenger said she needed to use the toilet. Our tour manager acted irritated and asked her if she could wait for two hours. She could not.
Back on the highway the manager continued to berate the driver, becoming argumentative and arrogant. Once again he placed a
loud and personal call, suggesting that he and his friend take Monday off so they could go out and get “### faced, ” sleep until 11 the next morning, visit an amusement park and ride roller coasters. He continued to swear, and did not check in with the passengers or inquire about anyone’s comfort, safety or enjoyment. By this time, the tour group was quietly making comments about his behavior and attitude.
When we reached the outskirts of London he had the driver pull over. He stood up and announced that it would be quicker if everyone got off the coach and took the tube back to their hotels, as that’s what he planned to do. Unbelievably, he jumped off the bus and left us, once again, in stunned surprise.
This was especially distressing to the woman who did not speak any English. In his frustration in being abandoned by his tour manager, the driver began yelling at the woman for her inability to communicate which hotel she needed to be taken to. My mother intervened, remembering which hotel the woman had been picked up from. The driver apologized for the tour manager’s behavior and began to point out some sites in London for us. It was the first time we had received commentary all day.
I needn’t go into too much detail as to how upset we all were by this experience, because our distress should be obvious. Not only were we yelled at, but we had to witness others being berated too. My children were introduced to inappropriate language and concepts such as ”getting [censored]faced.” We had very little commentary and learned next to nothing. Although I understand that this is a long tour, we were rushed around more than we should have been, considering the fact that the tour started at least a half hour late and pushed to end a half hour earlier than advertised. That “extra” hour would have made the whole experience much more enjoyable. The manager was completely unprofessional, rude and arrogant and was quite honestly an embarrassment to Anderson Tours and to London tourism as well.
I would like to point out that even with a full refund and an apology, (I'd like to point out that Anderson Tours did not respond to my email) the tour manager stole from us a once in a lifetime experience that we simply cannot repeat. We came from the United States, which was a very time and cost intensive endeavor. The opportunity to travel to the UK with my mother and my children will not happen again. With the Olympics starting soon, and with the increased amount of tourism that will take place, that Anderson Tours is NOT a reputible, or even a "real" tour company.