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Armas Hill / Birding tour leader failed to pay

1 United States Review updated:

Tour operator Armas Hill (Focus On Nature Tours, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware) was paid well for a birding tour of Newfoundland, Canada, in July 2006. However, he failed to pay the bills and finally bailed out altogether, leaving the group floundering. Reports indicate this is far from an isolated event for this tour operator.

I am inviting anyone experiencing similar problems with this outfit contact me per my trip report website. My trip report can be read at http://pweb.netcom.com/~naturepark/

Before flying home to Delaware, Armas Hill admitted he had shorted us, but he has since then been totally unresponsive. He continues to advertise and collect funds for future trips, but I hope this warning will alert anyone that although there are good tour operators out there, this outfit isn't one of them.

Va

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Comments

  • Bo
      8th of Jan, 2007
    +1 Votes

    Update as of 12-20-2006; three of the 9 travelers have received checks from Armas for $750, the others nothing. And of course to get back there to spend the $750 to properly finish the trip would take another $1000 ++ in airfare for me alone, which I doubt he'll ever take responsibility for. So - not yet resolved, but slowly getting started.

  • El
      13th of Apr, 2008
    +1 Votes

    I have gone on two tours with Armas and basically had the same experience. The tours never go where advertised and he lies constantly. I have heard that his wife suffers from depression, that her father had a stroke, that money from the tour was stolen from his van etc. Always promises that are never kept. He does not put money for trips in escrow for the trip. He essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul. He calls his wife from a pay phone every day, goes to the bank every day and is not prepared for anything unusual. He is also rude to local people. Anyone planning to go on a trip wit him should have his/her head examined.

  • Br
      6th of Jun, 2008
    +1 Votes

    I too have had problems with Armas Hill and his focus on nature tours...4 of us signed up for the Jan 2008 tour: birding in japan. We had to cancel due to medical reasons, notified him in plenty of time (all according to the contract) and ALL four of us have received zip, zilch, zero, nada, nothing, in the way of money owed us. We did everything required by the contract but Hill has not lived up to his part of the contract...I see when a search is done on Mr. Hill, that this is not the first time he has pulled this stunt, by not refunding money. I am really glad we didn't go on the trip as this guy probably would have stranded us somewhere as he had done to others. It also seems that the department of Justice for the state of Delaware has launched some sort of investigation, yet it so far has been ineffective. Hill has "charmed" his way out paying anyone, He make empty promises, but nothing comes of it. It would be nice if some kind of Criminal investigation could be done to either make this guy pay, thrown him in jail and shut this guy down.

  • Be
      10th of Nov, 2010
    +1 Votes

    Just returned from Brazil with Armas Hill leading a FONT 2-week tour, where he abandonned a tour group of four with 5 days remaining in the tour. Same story as the rest of the comment chain. We all paid him $20, 000 up front, and he could not pay any bills for lodging, food, car rentals, or country airfares. He repeatedly lied about temporary credit problems with FONT, and blamed much on this wife. The tour itinerary was altered on day 1 and he spent 2-3 days of wasted time trying to coordinate transfers and arrangements. The most disturbing was his request to "borrow" money from clients and have us pay for his air flights, until his credit was restored "within 24 hours." FONT and Armas Hill deserve to be put out of business and we will pursue this path with formal channels.

  • Jo
      18th of Nov, 2011
    +1 Votes

    Four years ago I sent a $500.00 deposit into Armas Hill's Focus on Nature Tours for a trip to Brazil's Pantanal. I then spoke to him on the phone about some additional questions and such with regard to the ecotour. One question I asked him alerted me to the fact that he does not know birds very well. I asked him,

    "Will we see Amazon parrots in th Pantanal?"

    Now anyone who is guiding birding tours to South America HAS to know that when one asks about Amazon parrots, one is asking about 30 species of green parrots that are in the genus Amazona (you know, Kingdon, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and species and all that taxonomy stuff). Please note that Amazon parrot species occur in the Caribbean, Mexico (North America), Central America, and South America.

    So he responded as follows:

    "Oh, we won't be in the Amazon."

    So the guy doesn't know birds (at least not basic ones, like parrots that occur right in his would-be ecotour's "backyard").

    I immediately became suspicious and searched a bit more on-line and found a whole list of scathing complaints about Focus on Nature Tours and Armas Hill. Needless to say, he never returned my deposit. But compared to what others have lost, I seem to have gotten off easy!

    I think that the reason he persists in his "business" is that, besides Armas Hill having a good and professional APPEARING website, most birders are trusting and easy-going folks. Perhaps when taken by someone like Armas Hill, a birding enthusiast is unlikely to do too much about it. I do hope that someone legally pursues him and puts an end to his abuse of peoples' good trust.

  • Bi
      29th of May, 2012
    +1 Votes

    Thank you for posting information on “Armas Hill” as I was interested in signing up for the of his upcoming "Focus On Nature" North Carolina birding tours. Sounds as if this site has saved me money and aggravation. Thanks again!

  • Sp
      17th of Feb, 2018
    +1 Votes

    @Birdie_61 .+

  • Sp
      17th of Feb, 2018
    0 Votes

    @spike11 with an over 30 year pattern of similar behavior, how is this guy still in business? The excuses and tactics are still the same.

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