Discovery Tours & Travel Pte LtdTerrible tour arrangement

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I'm writing in to give some feedback about Discovery Tours & Travel Pte Ltd.
We booked a 3D2N tour package to Tioman Island by coach and ferry from 1st-3rd May 2009, staying at Berjaya Beach Resort. The stay at Berjaya Resort was a pleasant one, but the journey to the destination was certainly not.

It is such an irony now that when I read the introduction about the travel agency again, this is what they write. "With over 20 years of experience in providing travel services, Discovery Tours & Travel is uniquely positioned to make sure every trip goes smoothly. As we are the only Singapore travel agent with a Malaysian branch office in Mersing, you can rest assured our friendly staff are readily available to provide real assistance, and keep your holiday hassle-free, from start to finish."
Hassle-"free" indeed.

What happened was the coach turned up late for 1 hour at DFS Galleria (the gathering point), when we were told to gather by 3am. It worried us that we would not be able to catch the 7:30am ferry given that the coach ride will take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes. By the time the coach turned up, many of the anxious passengers had already made several calls to the travel agent, including me. With my first call, the person-in-charge, Richard, replied saying that the coach was on the way, and that there was a jam at the Woodlands checkpoint, causing the delay. The subsequent calls were answered by a voice message, asking us to leave messages. I apologise for disturbing his beauty sleep.

The coach journey then began at about 4am, with the passengers having to clear the immigration customs at Singapore and Malaysian checkpoints. It is really shocking to realise that the driver didn't have the name list, or even know the total number of passengers. He simply asked us if everyone has boarded the bus. Some people could have been left behind in this situation. And it's silly to ask us because all the passengers didn't sign up as one whole big group, so we didn't know each other at all. Anyway, the ride continued in the early hours of the morning, with little street light assistance on the roads, yet the bus was tearing away at high speeds. I guess the driver was also worried that we will miss the ferry.

When the bus finally arrived at the ferry terminal around 6:50am-7am, he anxiously shouted to us that all those who are going to Tioman should alight here quickly and catch the ferry if not we are going to miss it. Though puzzled, a group of 20 plus people including us alighted the bus since the driver specifically said those who are going to Tioman should alight here, and so we alighted and approached the counter to collect our ferry tickets. The counter was not operating at that time, and it was only after we approached another counter, then we realised we were dropped off at the wrong ferry terminal. As first-timers to these ferry terminals, we didn't realise this big mistake at all initially. The correct ferry terminal should be at Tanjong Gemok, not Mersing. It was already 7:20am at that time, and we were told the next ferry is scheduled at 5pm. A female staff at Mersing ferry terminal managed to get us some locals to drive us to Tanjong Gemok ferry terminal, which is located 30-45 minutes away.

I am not sure how the others have communicated with the person-in-charge, but when we personally called Richard, he was very shocked that this has happened and even raised his voice against us, saying "Didn't I tell you that it should be at Tanjong Gemok?!" This is again very disturbing, because I think it should have been some kind of miscommunication between the travel agent and the bus driver that caused this mistake, yet he was trying to push the blame to us, the customers for not confirming the ferry terminal. I admit that it may be partly our responsibility to double check, however given the atrocious attitude of the bus driver rushing us to get off the bus, it is almost impossible to get a confirmation, since all he could tell us was "those who are going to Tioman, get off here, hurry!" Richard even dared to ask me to count the number of people going to Berjaya and Paya Beach Resort. It's like "how would I know?! Isn't this your job?!"

We did managed to catch the ferry at the end, when we arrived at 8am. I think the related staff must have contacted the ferry terminal to ask for some delay, we personally called the ferry terminal as well. I felt really sorry for the other passengers who had to wait on the ferry for us for close to 1 hour before we finally set off at 8:30am. We reached Tioman Island safely at around 12:00pm, even though there was some incident of water splashing into the cabin due to the high waves plus ferry speeding.

The stay at Berjaya as mentioned earlier was a relaxed and pleasant one, thanks to the friendly staff.

Then on 3rd May, we met the person-in-charge of the bus company on our way back on the coach from Tanjong Gemok to Singapore. He didn't want to take any responsiblity as well which is obvious, and expected us to contact the travel agent if we were to claim any costs incurred due to the mistake.

I must say I'm VERY disappointed with the service provided by Discovery Tours & Travel Pte Ltd. They may have outsourced the bus company, which means it may not be entirely their responsibility. Yet the attitude was just terrible. I don't think it is even possible to claim the "taxi fare" we paid to the kind locals who drove us from Mersing to Tanjong Gemok, It was an insignificant amount of RM15 per person anyway. We just hope that both the travel agency and bus company can reflect and improve on their customer service. And they didn't realise the importance of apologising. Many times, we, as customers, are not after monetary compensations but expected some basic courtesy from these agents by apologising for causing such frustration and stress to customers who are hoping to enjoy their holidays. But these agents totally ruined the trip with their shabby arrangements. This is really a pity because Tioman Island is such a beautiful place, but the planning from the travel agency was horrible and enough to deter potential visitors (especially first-timers) from going. I will definitely visit Tioman Island again, but I'm definitely not going to engage the services from Discovery Tours & Travel Pte Ltd anymore.

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  • Un
    Unhappy May 21, 2009

    I was part of that trip as well. I was told by the bus driver he was called in at the last minute as the bus that was supposed to pick us at 3am broke down on the way into Singapore. Chatting with the driver on the way to gemuk from mersing, it was only then we learnt he was a back-up. This also explains why there was no 'tour guide' with us who should have the list of travelling pax. At the terminal and because of the inevitable late departure, the ferry departed at low tide leading it tohit a rock and was moving only with one set of propellers. The ferry trip took 4hours instead of the stated 1 hour and half. Even on 4 may when I was departing tioman, apparently this 'accident' was known by most of the locals. I think the whole thing was murphy's law. Nevertheless I the tour agency should have known better to call us and inform us of the situation rather than wait for a full hour clueless. And compromises in security where evident. Any tom, dick or harry could have boarded the bus!

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