Moto-Charlie — Alps Motorcycle Tour
I have been operating my Alps motorcycle tour guide business for 15 years. During this time I have had the pleasure of riding with more than 300 very satisfied tour members. This is the first time anyone has ever filed any form of complaint. I am responding here simply to clarify the record for anyone who is contemplating one of my tours and stumbles onto this webpage.
The complaint is completely misleading and erroneous. The Complainant ignores the fact that there were 11 other tour members on the same tour who can attest to the falsity of this complaint. He has also failed to repay me for hotel no-show fees that I paid on his behalf from my personal funds while on tour. I paid his bill for him in order to keep his hotel reservations from being canceled after he repeatedly and deliberately failed to show up. All tour members agree to pay these charges, which are their bills, not mine, as part of the sign-up process.
The fact is this person did get to tour the Alps utilizing the services I provided. These included researching and booking his rental motorcycle and “securing”, per his request, his hotel reservations made on his behalf. He had the benefit of significant pre-tour planning (nearly 60 hours) that I provided him via gear prep, insurance concerns, transportation assistance and other matters. He had the companionship of the tour group during the morning and evening meals and he was able to ride with a person who spoke the local language, had prior tour experience and was willing to ride at his desired pace.
Any issue the Complainant thinks he may have stems from the fact that he failed to read my website (where all my tour info is clearly spelled out), ignored the information provided during one on one phone calls and completely disregarded the specific written tour material that he acknowledged reading and agreeing to as part of the tour sign-up process.
Tour members are free to ride with me each day or ride on their own, in which case I will provide them with routing guidance and suggestions. I make it clear that my tours are for experienced riders who want to focus on riding, with the occasional Kodak moment and sightseeing from the saddle.
The focus of the Complainant’s issue is the “ride with me” part of my services. I make it perfectly clear in the tour sign-up information, via a detailed, large print, 4-page “Riding Missive”, what my riding style is and how I expect the group will ride together if they want to ride with me. The sole purpose of this document is to put tour members on notice that I will not sacrifice the enjoyment of the group for a rider who repeatedly causes the group to stop and wait. I also explicitly state what will happen if a rider does repeatedly cause the group to stop.
Every tour member is required to acknowledge that they have read, understood and agreed to this document in order to be signed up for the tour. I implemented the Riding Missive in 2005 after a tour member caused the group to stop repeatedly every day during the entire tour. I have conducted approx 22 tours with over 125 tour members since 2005 and have NOT had any issue or confusion regarding the riding pace or group dynamic.
This tour was sold out. There were 9 motorcycles (plus mine), 7 male riders, 2 female riders and 14 people in total. The person who filed this complaint was unable and or unwilling to keep pace with the rest of the group. As a result, the group had to stop repeatedly, 10 – 15 times per hour, sometimes for 3 – 5 minutes per stop while sitting by the side of the road. Constant stopping has major safety and tour conduct implications. It is dangerous for a group of 10 motorcycles, riding two lane mountain roads, to constantly pull to the side of the road with limited space while cars and other traffic drive by. It is also dangerous to constantly try to rejoin the flow of traffic as a group.
The Complainant was unable to ride at the pace of traffic, which encourages cars behind the group to tailgate and pass. This can be very dangerous to motorcycles traveling on twisty two-lane roads with no breakdown lanes and steep drop-offs. It is an unacceptable safety risk.
The Complainant’s slow pace over the course of the first tour day added approx 50% to the normal time required to cover the tour route, which would have rendered the entire tour itinerary unworkable.
I spoke to the Complainant about his pace early on the first day of riding. I was astounded by his response. He indicated that he and his girlfriend (riding two-up) planned to ride a leisurely sightseeing pace, wanted to go slow so they could take lots of pictures/videos and that “the group would have to stop and wait for them”. I reminded him that everything he had just described was in direct contradiction to my website info, the telephone calls and the Riding Missive, which he had explicitly agreed to. I told him that if he continued to endanger and inconvenience the rest of the group that I would, per the Riding Missive, provide him with detailed routing information each day for him to use while riding on his own or with a buddy.
On the second day of the tour I was able to pair the Complainant with another tour member who spoke German, had been on prior Alps motorcycle tours, had specific places he wanted to revisit and was comfortable touring on his own. The three of them would ride their own route and pace each day and rejoin the group at night. Many tour members prefer to tour on their own. An Internet search of motorcycle travel stories indicates that this is a common occurrence with all tour companies. By utilizing this pairing the Complainant was able to enjoy a tour more suited to his abilities and expectations while continuing to enjoy the benefits of my services.
The fact is that the Complainant did not heed or adhere to the specific written tour information he acknowledged he had read and agreed to. He rode at a pace that endangered and inconvenienced the rest of the group. As a result, I did what I said I would do in the Riding Missive and arranged for the Complainant to ride with a buddy separate from the group.
Below are some additional bullet points, which add context to how this particular tour was conducted and the services provided to the Complainant.
· My tours are not sightseeing tours. They are intended for experienced riders who want to enjoy some of the best motorcycle “riding” in the world. A tour member on this tour sent me a USB stick that contained almost 1, 000 pictures and 30+ videos. Some tour members have sent me more than 2, 000 pictures. There is plenty of time to take photos and videos.
· I offer three different tours per season. The Complainant participated on my least intensive tour geared towards couples riding together or two-up. The speed limits on two lane roads were between 30mph – 50mph. My wife came on this tour. We clearly did not race on this tour.
· I spend an average of 4 – 6 hours per tour member prior to the tour answering tour related questions. I spent more than 50 hours answering and researching a variety of questions asked by the Complainant. I pride myself on being service oriented. I answered all his questions patiently, diligently and in detail, sometimes responding to the same question several times. I spent more pre-tour time assisting the Complainant than the other 12 tour members combined.
· The Complainant also requested a castle visit. I spent an additional 4 – 6 hours researching all the famous castles along our 11-day route, their hours of operation, entrances fees, etc. and then reworked the route to accommodate his request. I spent the equivalent of six 10-hour riding days, just on pre-tour planning requested by the Complainant.
· In 30 years of traveling the Alps with over 300+ friends and tour members, I have only had 2 injured riders not arrive for their reservations. The Complainant failed to arrive 4 different nights at the first 3 hotels on the road. His failure to arrive as agreed was a deliberate decision on his part. He declined my guided assistance and ignored my routing suggestions. He had no problem enjoying the hospitality of the hotels that I paid for on his behalf even while he refused to deal with me in good faith by walking away from me and/or hiding in his room any time I tried to discuss his no-show fees.