Grayline / Poor/Non/Unsafe Service

1 Santiago and Valparaiso, Chile
Contact information:

SCL Airport to Santiago Hotel Transport
The pick up was spooky to say the least. Other than knowing our names the reps from Grayline had no paperwork to identify themselves or what they were hired to do. They also did not wear a uniform or name tag and picked us up in a standard size personal car, not a company vehicle or a vehicle with a company logo. But the guide did have the Grayline survey form.

They were to transport us from the airport to our hotel. The driver spoke no English so he was accompanied by an interpreter who spoke a smidgen of English. When I say a smidgen, I mean just that. We quickly figured out not to ask questions or attempt to confirm any information; and just let the your man who spoke a smidgen of English tell us how he was going to school to learn to be a tour guide and was due to graduate in May.

Grayline appeared to give no consideration to our safety or well-being. No one ever asked for our vouchers or proof of who we were.

Chilean Dinner Dance Show
The driver showed up, on schedule but again, without any documentation, uniform, name tag or vehicle markings. He did have the Grayline customer survey form so we considered that a good sign. The evening of the day we arrived we were to go to a Chilean dinner show. It turned out to be a Polynesian restaurant, we were served basically an American meal and the entertainment was pretty much Brazilian and Polynesian. If there was anything Chilean about the evening we missed it.

The driver did speak some broken English so was able to point out some areas in which we were driving. However, for every place we went, he emphasized “This is where I live”.

Grayline appears to give little consideration to our safety or well-being. No one asked for our vouchers or proof of who we were.

Coastal Vina del Mar and Historical Valparaiso
This was to be a tour through the Chilean countryside and Vina del Mar, to have a Chilean lunch, tour Valparaiso and then be delivered to our hotel in Valparaiso. We had asked the Grayline tour guide Raphael (tour guide from Grayline Santiago City Tour – booked through hotel, see comments below) to confirm that we would be picked up at our hotel and what time. He did call and confirmed we would be met t 9:10 the next morning at the hotel. That next morning at 9:05, Raphael showed up and said he was our tour guide for the day. Again, he had no paperwork, no name tag, wore no uniform and the van, which had several people on it, had no Grayline identification.

Raphael spoke mostly in Spanish which coincidentally, also happened to be what most of the other passengers were. When he remembered we were on board and he could not think of how to refer to things in English, he would ask the others for help.

We had prepaid for lunch which seemed to upset everyone because neither the guide nor restaurant knew what to do with us. No one else in the group had prepaid and apparently no one typically did when with Raphael or at the restaurant. After numerous phones call with I have no idea whom, and meetings with the restaurant personnel, and a loss of about 30-40 minutes while the other passengers waited to learn what was going on, the, I think, restaurant manager finally agreed to feed us. He told us to order whatever we wanted.

However, when the waiter came to take our order, we were informed that we could choose from two starters, two entrees, and two desserts. It turns out the items we were allowed to choose from were the least expensive on the menu, costing about $18. We paid for two luncheons at $42 each. The food was poorly cooked, we were served the wrong foods and it was delivered cold when it should have been hot. They had to redo the food twice and then demanded we pay for our drinks. Oh, and no one at the restaurant spoke an iota of English.

While we were eating a gentleman approached us and identified himself as our guide from Grayline, duh! He wanted to know why we were with a guide that did not work for Grayline! As it turns out, Raphael and his driver were poaching Grayline clients. We also learned that the true Grayline driver called the hotel, confirmed he would pick us up, and left his name and number. We never got that message at the hotel.

Raphael was recommended by our Santiago hotel desk clerk at the Hotel Diego de Almagro Santiago Centro. Raphael agreed and confirmed he would complete the agreed tour.

When we got back on the tour bus, Raphael confronted me and said “his boss was demanding that he collect from us the cost of the tour, because we were with him, not Grayline. As it turns out, Raphael was telling Grayline that we went with him voluntarily and therefore the money we paid to Grayline should be turned over from Grayline to Raphael. Grayline apparently told them to take a hike so they came to us for payment. We told them flat out no!

After leaving the restaurant we made a tour stop in Vina del Mar. The guide, Raphael, approached me and demanded payment for his tour and that if we did not agree to pay, immediately, and in cash, they would have to put us out on a street corner. We refused to pay and demanded they call the police. They refused to call the police but did take us to the hotel. We did not get any of the tour or luncheon which we paid for.

Grayline definitely gave no consideration to our safety or well-being. Again, no one asked for our vouchers.

Santiago City Tour – After arriving in Santiago we spoke with a hotel desk clerk about a city tour for the next morning. The hotel desk clerk made the arrangement for us and we were to be picked up at 9 AM. When the tour driver and tour guide showed up to pick us up, they presented us with the Grayline customer survey so, to double check, we asked if they were from Grayline and they said yes. The guide, Raphael clearly stated he did not work for Grayline, or freelance, but was contracted with Grayline to conduct tours on request.

But they had no uniform, no name tag, and no documentation except the customer survey form; and again they were in a standard vehicle with no markings. And, unfortunately the driver spoke zero English and the guide spoke slim and none. We spent the entire morning on Google searching words, names and places that he could not figure out how to translate. We benefited very little from the tour because he was able to give us minimal information.

At the conclusion of the tour Raphael took us to a restaurant for a “local fare” luncheon. Well, no one spoke English and they had no English menu. They brought us food which I hope I never have occasion to eat again.

Grayline said they are sorry, but oh well. Sorry does not even begin to modify the fact that legally and morally Grayline or any other company has a responsibility to act “responsibly” and in good faith in the care and handling of their customers.

According to a Grayline representative, they promise only to be on time, they do not promise the drivers or guides will be able to speak English and if we have any other expectations, that is basically our problem.

Grayline has told me that our safety and well-being is not part of the arrangement.

Grayline thanked us for submitting our complaints and said our comments would “help us to work on these with our suppliers in order to try to improve the services.” Wasn’t that gracious of them?

Grayline said if we had a problem or concern, we should have called the emergency number. We had our hotels call Grayline and I followed up with our concerns, in writing, via email and we were assured, in writing, in email, that our vacation and tours in Argentina would be perfect after the travesties in Chile. Not even close.

Jan 31, 2015

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