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EF Tours


Fraud / hidden fees

Complaint Rating:  83 % with 24 votes
83% 24
Contact information:
EF Tours
United States
I booked a trip for my son and paid for it over a year ago. . . I recently logged on to pay for additional "departure fees" and learned that the trip i had payed for had been changed - with no notice. My son is now going on a shorter trip with different departure dates for the same price. . . This is robbery!! I contacted the company and after being on the phone with several people for 2 days i was told - there was nothing they could do, they did not know why the prices were the same, to basically it is not their problem. I was advised to write a letter!

This was very frustrating!! I will make sure and tell all my friends about my experience with ef tours.
Complaint comments Comments (70) Complaint country United States Complaint category Travel & Vacations


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N  13th of Mar, 2009 by    +1 Votes

EF Tours - Fraud
EF Tours
1 Education St.
United States
Phone: 1.800.665.5364

EF tours is a fraud, they change travel plans, with a rate increase then do not allow a refund if you want to cancel the trip.
A  23rd of Mar, 2009 by    +5 Votes
I totally agree. My friends and I have an up coming tour book and they have changed alot of things since we booked. They have added a 498 dollar fuel upcharge after the fact. They have also seperated us and booked us into rooms with people we do not know. I would never, ever recommend them.
A  2nd of Apr, 2009 by     Best Advice +6 Votes
I would never travel with them again. Our school trip was to Egypt 2009 and the best they could do was 40 hours in transit! Hotels were brutal and were all transfers on the trip. When I complained, they didn't seem to care and claimed it's a hard job.
A  27th of Apr, 2009 by    +3 Votes
Totally agree! As a teacher, I expect my tours are run better than EF. I'm going to book through Explorica from now on; they're much more attentive.
D  12th of May, 2009 by    +2 Votes
Explorica is the same as EF - 4 quarters for a dollar! They sound better, but when you get into the process it's the same exact product.

Try Prometour - at least let them quote you - you will be happy you did!
N  27th of May, 2009 by    +3 Votes
My daughter (graduating senior) has not even left yet and we are getting hosed by EF. They have added so many fees in. They changed the date of departure, which now conflicts with her college orientation day. Now her teacher has informed us that they added a group of 9th grade students to the group at the last minute. She is going because her two best friends used peer pressure to make daddy pay. I don't mind that part because if that is the only peer pressure she has ever bowed to, then I am happy. I smelled something rotton when they approached me about it in December.

Thinking back, I thought my wife and I could have taken all three girls and upgraded to suites at the hotels for the same price as I am paying EF and we are staying home. I saw lots of negitive comments on various sites and tried to warn them, but they all are in love with their history teacher who is the sponser. Think about it. If you ask $3500.00 from two girls and add $5000.00 that is $12000.00 dollars. I think I could take a two week trip through Austria and Germany very lavishly for that. If not lavishly at least comfortable. THe girls would have their fun and I would be the chauffer and baggage handler, but I would see Europe.

I booked my wife, daughter and myself on two weeks in Italy last year. Research on the web gave me rooms that, except for one, were all excellent 2 and 3 star accomodations. Not luxery but OK by my standards ( I am picky). We flew to Rome, rented a car, and proceded up the coast to visit Pisa. Then spent the rest of the week driving to different parts of Tuscany staying in small villas and just enjoying the country. Then we drove to Venice, dropped off the car, and stayed a few days. Trained to Florence, stayed a few days, trained to Rome, stayed a few days, then home. The only thing missing for my daugter was someone her age to share the experience. Mom and Dad are a drag.

I am still upset and there will be more about this. EF has made a big mistake messing with me.
N  22nd of Jun, 2009 by    0 Votes
Ask how much your daughter's teacher is receiving in cash and perks, besides the free trip, and then you will know why the tour is so expensive!
A  28th of Jun, 2009 by    +3 Votes
My daughter is in Italy right now. She loves the country, hates the tour company! She was supposed to get a complete European breakfast and dinner daily. Well she has had bread and a small can of cheap fruit cocktail for every breakfast, and for4 of the 6 nights she has been served a cheap slimy tv dinner style pork with one inedible side dish. One dinner had to be eaten in a musty moldy basement that induced an asthma attack. I am furious. I am demanding to know the price breakdown for the meals on the trip. I feel that someone ows me part of a refund for false advetising. The trained local tour guides seem to be a joke as well, my daughters guide has got them lost twice. Please make sure you ask lots of questions before you consider booking a trip this company!
N  11th of Jul, 2009 by    +2 Votes
I've had experience with EF four times. After my last trip in 1998, I said I would NEVER GO WITH THEM AGAIN. I haven't. Unfortunately, I agreed to let my son go with another teacher before I realized it was with EF. He's in Europe right now. Each phone call we receive is more upsetting. He said the tour was poorly planned. They arrive late for things, are greeted a restaurants by insufficient wait staff who aren't expecting them, and are dumped in hotels at 6 p.m. with nothing to do because the hotels are too far from anything to make leaving worthwhile. They didn't get to go up in the Eiffel Tower because they had 15 Minutes there!

I was hoping that his experience would be positive. Instead, it looks like we wasted about $5000. I guess EF hasn't improved in eleven years. If anything, it seems to be worse.
N  14th of Sep, 2009 by    +2 Votes
What can be done? Has anyone pursued the teacher/sponser? The school districts? The tour companies? What has been the result? I wouldn't want my child's first foray into international travel to be handled in such a slimy manner - more importantly, what about the security risks - do these companies address that issue? This all sounds too outrageous. What tour company is reliable?
A  16th of Sep, 2009 by    +1 Votes
I have it in writing from EF Tours that EVERYONE who has travelled with them in 2009 is getting a partial refund of what is described as "Departure Fees". Our group, whom travelled in July are getting (so we are told) $166 each. Let us hope that for once EF Tours stand by their word and do the right thing.
A  21st of Sep, 2009 by    +1 Votes
Parents and teachers ought to have travel and legal professionals go over every contract from student tour companies and question the prices and fees. School boards and district superintendents should be more involved.

None of my trips have any hidden, last minute additional fees, finance, or late fees.

My teachers and parents know exactly what the students will doing, where they are staying, and where they are eating. We also give the teachers choices of what they could see and do on tour.

The problem is, when parents and teachers see our all-inclusive price, they think it is too expensive because we'reup against tour operators that give 'low-ball' prices and then nickel and dime the parents with insurance, departure fees, fuel surcharges, gratuities, late fees, finance fees, membership fees etc. (Why do companies charge a 'membership fee? To get another $95 from you!)

Tour costs from tour operators such as mine are fair, upfront, and final. Students on my domestic tours need only bring money for souvenirs!

Honestly, for international travel, it might be better to work with a good travel agent that knows the area, as well as the tourist authorites of the respective countries you want to visit. Your children would be better served and protected.
N  23rd of Nov, 2009 by    +1 Votes
Hey everyone, you should all look up this new travel program. They are just starting out and is a little more expensive, but you definitely will have no worries or stress. EVERYTHING is already planned out and you will not have to worry about a thing, nor will chaperones. Right now they only offer a program in Ireland but hope to expand within the next few years. Check them out at http://www.fcjsummer.com/programs.html
A  24th of Nov, 2009 by    +2 Votes
I've taken several sojourns with EF over the years and discovered you get what you pay for. I've also found that price in EF's case is also not about value. The EF model assumes that kids don't care about food quality and are happy to scarf down the localized interpretation of American junk food. The local tours are fine and totally dependent on who you're lucky enough to get. A concern I have though was accessing the medical attention that these kids have paid for with the medical insurance that EF insists you purchase . Twice I needed care for my students and both times the tour guide had absolutely no idea on how to handle the situation or even remotely familiar with the policy or procedures. Hotels by and large are very basic. Yes we as Americans are spoiled, but this goes beyond that. Some hotel locations are just downright scary! In Athens we found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the red light district, or in Athens it's the white light district. Students were entertained during dinner by watching an endless stream of men come on go. This ended when the madame and a couple of goons from one of the establishments noticed all the students at the window and came storming into our hotel. Needless to say everyone ran off to their rooms for the rest of the night or should I say 2 am when we had to leave for the airport.
EF does an amazing job promoting itself but a very basic one at delivering. Their loyalty program in many cases goes a long way at keeping teachers for honestly advocating for their students and demanding better of EF. I'M SHAMED IT WORKED ON ME.
Hope this helps, and enjoy safe travels with whoever you choose.
N  27th of Nov, 2009 by    +2 Votes
I don't want to single out the company you've been traveling with, but it seems what you are talking about has, unfortunately, become characteristic of the student tour industry.

This is what you need to consider vis a vis 'loyalty': whom do you serve: Your school/students/parents or an outside commercial enterprise? Actually, by accepting all the perks from these companies, teachers become sales sub-contractors representing the company. There are laws in place against using one's position to influence a contract, at least with public school teachers. (Additionally, the NAIS and other private school associations have also come out against this practice.) Currently, many teachers are looking at each student as a dollar sign! Again, it comes down to fiduciary responsibility.

Considering the fundraising efforts by schools, parents, and whole communities as well as the fact that many parents make financial sacrifices by taking out loans and second jobs in order that their children can go on these trips, don't teachers realize that they are betraying the trust of their community by accepting these perks?

Perks should send up a red flag: it means that the quality and content of the trip is compromised by these offerings. If it's going into the pocket, it's coming out of the program. Bribes, and that's what they are, mask substandard service. Instead of pocketing the $ 200 - $300 per student, consider how that money could enhance the services provided: upgraded food, hotels in good areas; thoroughly trained educational tour guides; top-notch insurance; included gratuities; and more of an academic experience, rather than just sightseeing.

Safety, comfort, and the well-being of our students should be the #1 priority or every teacher. It is up to the teacher to protect their students by ensuring a safe environment and acting as their advocate. I've have heard a number of horror stories from colleagues and educators concerning international student travel in the field. Some of the teachers took these conditions in their stride, as part of the experience'. Some negated their responsibility by not serving as quality controllers, not setting boundaries, leaving the group, and getting drunk. This is not a vacation for the teacher - it's a responsibility.

No teacher, or organizer, should head a group without being thoroughly aware of the nitty-gritty terms of the contract with the tour operator. Knowledge of the scope of the insurance coverage; lists of doctors and hospitals; and worst-case scenario plans should be in place before travel. Most tour guides (even in the US) have no idea of what to do in a medical or other emergency and the teachers are also ignorant; this is unacceptable.

I am not a tour operator, I only design curriculum-based travel programs for schools within the US and Canada, but you might look at my website's Caveat Emptor download, which is on my Contact Page. It's a checklist of business practices that are less than desirable, or questionable. instructours dot com
D  10th of Dec, 2009 by    -3 Votes
Man, you people are misinformed. I just went on an EF Tour and it was fantastic. And to the one idiot who hated EF, but accidentally let his son travel with them, I mean that pretty much speaks for itself. Is this guy serious, he doesn't even research what company his kid is going with, what a joke!

You notice that all these complains are from parents. On the tour I was on there were a few parents with the same complaints, but hey, guess what...these tours are for students! All of the students had an amazing time and never complained once. There were also about 12 parents on my tour and of those 12 only 2 did not like the tour.

As far as the food, aside from one meal, it was all very good and for you people who don't really know anything about Europe breakfast usually consists of a pastry and juice. You have to remember as well that the company has to cater to 40 different pallets and that it is a student tour. If the food is even somewhat risky most of the students won't eat it. Yea, the parents might be dissapointed, but who cares, the tour isn't for them. I also asked about hidden fees and surcharges, but i do not feel like typing that information out. After the discussion I felt there was not any fees that were not understandable.

Bottom line, it is a very good product for the price and if you want to go on the tour as a parent keep in mind the tour is for the students.
D  14th of Dec, 2009 by    -4 Votes
The majority of complaints in this thread are due to very poor communication between the organizing teacher(s) and their students and parents. Many times teachers organize these tours through EF never fully understanding what they are getting into. I have led many, almost 2 dozen, tours and it is very easy to avoid almost all of the complaints I am seeing in this thread. Know before you go what you are getting. Be sure your paying participants understand. EF, for example, clearly states in their booking conditions that departure fees will fluctuate and will very likely change. They also make you aware that the departure date may change as well as the itinerary. They also explicitly describe what, if any, compensation will be awarded.

These are student tours and the students and parents should know EXACTLY what to expect before signing up. This is the responsibility of the Group Leader/Teacher and the parents who should read the entire booking conditions information before signing up their son or daughter. I have used EF in the past and agree they are not the best out there but my travelers always have a good time and get their money's worth because they know exactly what they are getting into before they sign on the dotted line.
N  21st of Jan, 2010 by    +1 Votes
Who says that those tours are expensive probably do not know the world's economical situation. Today's (Jan 21 2010) EUR-USD exchange rate is 1, 41. This means that with ONE US dollar you barely get 0, 67 Euros (including commissions and banks exchange rates).
Now please convert the money a normal traveller pays with EF, and try to get the same you get on an EF tour arranging things by yourself (flights, hotels, tour guides, 24/7 tour director, entrance fees, bus transfers, dinners, ...). Can you get the same for a price which is at lest close to the EF one? Europe is no longer as cheap as many people think, even more expensive than the USA on a 1:1 rate. Please keep this in mind when you talk about prices.

Does anyone have an idea of how much a meal is in Rome? Unless you go eat in big chain's fast food restaurants (average price 7 Euros) an average meal in a touristic place will cost you AT LEAST 15/16 Euros (over 20 USD).

EF is one of the largest tour operators in the world, they know what they sell and when people have "surprises" from them it mostly is because they have not read all the terms and conditions in the contract.

Everything I mentioned above is not "assumed", all information are real and personally experienced.

Enjoy EF as the students tour company it is...
A  12th of Mar, 2010 by    +2 Votes
It is a Friday night, and my son is stranded in Atlanta, Georgia. His group flew out of Kansas City to Atlanta this morning. EF booked them with a 40 min. layover in Atlanta. Due to bad weather, they missed their flight to Spain. All of the parents here in Kansas are trying to get ahold of someone with EF to see if they are going to help our kids. So far the only answer has been that no one will be available until Monday to help. It's along time from Friday night to Monday morning!!! In the mean time our kids and their teacher are on their own. We are responsible for all cost involved until they arrive in Spain. The last we heard from their poor teacher trying to get them booked on a flight, is it may be as late as Monday until they get a flight to Spain. One parent accidently called a different tour company, and was told they had someone who works all night trying to get new flight arrangements made. Unfortunately, all of the people with EF educational tours our home snug in their beds getting a good night sleep. Please take my advice and avoid EF educational tours. I see many positive post, but they are from people who did not run into a real problem. You really dont know if you have a good tour group, until they have to prove their effeciency. EF educational tours have been tried tonight, and they are SORELY lacking.
N  19th of Mar, 2010 by    +1 Votes
SCAM, SCAM, SCAM! I just found out today that my daughter's tour was cancelleld 2 weeks ago, however, EF Tours just collected $1, 200 from me yesterday! No they are refusing to give me back my money. Everyone needs to file a complaint with the Attorney General. I will be filing one on Monday!

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