Not given instructions for Stonehenge tour

By Judith C. Dyrhsen
This item appears on page 24 of the December 2016 issue.
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I was a member of a group of five senior women who took Golden Tours’ “Simply Stonehenge Tour” on the morning of March 18, 2016. It cost $319 for all of us, or $63.80 per person. I booked the tour three months in advance on the company’s website. 

Stonehenge, itself, was awe-inspiring. Getting to and from it was a nightmare.

As advertised, the bus picked us up at our hotel. However, it was already 40 minutes late by the time the tour guide on the pickup bus called our hotel concierge to tell us they were three minutes away. It was another 10 minutes before the bus arrived to pick us up.

We were shuffled from the first bus to a second with no explanation. When this second bus arrived at a central-London office of Golden Tours, we were not told where to go to pick up our third bus. We stood behind the sign reading “Stonehenge.” We were the only people in line. A person (I’m assuming a company employee) came up to us and said our bus was in the street and ready to leave. We ran for the bus, which was on the verge of leaving.

When we arrived at Stonehenge, we received no instructions on where to meet. We assumed it would be the place where we had been dropped off. 

As it turned out, those who were already on the bus when we got on had received written instructions. We did not. The bus driver told some people that the pickup would be at 1 p.m. and others, 2 p.m. 

Before 1 p.m., we gathered at what we assumed was the pickup point, but there was no bus there. It had driven off from another pickup point. If another passenger hadn’t noticed we weren’t on the bus and insisted we be found, we would have been left behind. The bus made a second pass and picked us up. There were no signs designating the bus as a Golden Tours bus.

We wrongly assumed that the return drop-off point would be the same coach office we had departed from in central London. Instead, we were dropped off in the middle of the block on Brompton Road, with no directions or aid. 

One single female traveler kept repeating, “But I don’t know where I am.” Other passengers took her under their wings so she would be safe. We entered a hotel nearby to get help.

We definitely do not feel we got our money’s worth.

JUDITH C. DYRHSEN

Yuba City, CA

ITN emailed Golden Tours at customerservices@goldentours.com and received the following reply.

Thank you for contacting us with regards to Judith Dyrhsen’s feedback. I hope I am able to provide relevant information in regards to the experiences she detailed in her letter.  

The service we offer to our customers is a complimentary pickup from city centre hotels, but London traffic during peak times can, unfortunately, sometimes cause delays. However, all of our coaches are fitted with tracking devices, therefore we are able to track each coach’s movements, and we can see that these customers did suffer a 20-minute wait.

The free pickup coach used is not the coach that will continue its journey to each destination. One feeder coach is used to pick up the customers from their requested locations, then, upon arriving at our Victoria office, they will be boarded on the appropriate coaches to join their tours.

Each customer will receive, upon boarding, a wristband* relevant to the tour each is taking, along with an instruction paper explaining about Stonehenge and the pickup location. The time of pickup from Stonehenge is 12:45 p.m. We are pleased to know that these customers were able to return on the coach back to the city.

We do offer our sincere regrets that they felt the service we provided didn’t meet their expectation. We received no further comments from other customers aboard the tour.

HELEN KITSON, Guest Relations Advisor, Golden Tours, 156 Cromwell Rd., London, England, SW7 4EF, U.K.

*Regarding wristbands, Ms. Dyrhsen wrote to ITN, “We did not receive any wristbands, and no wristbands were required for us to get back on the bus.”

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I was a member of a group of five senior women who took Golden Tours’ “Simply Stonehenge Tour” on the morning of March 18, 2016. It cost $319 for all of us, or $63.80 per person. I booked the tour three months in advance on the company’s website. 

Stonehenge, itself, was awe-inspiring. Getting to and from it was a nightmare.

As advertised, the bus picked us up at our hotel. However, it was already 40 minutes late by the time the tour guide on the pickup bus called our hotel concierge to tell us they were three minutes away. It was another 10 minutes before the bus arrived to pick us up.

We were shuffled from the first bus to a second with no explanation. When this second bus arrived at a central-London office of Golden Tours, we were not told where to go to pick up our third bus. We stood behind the sign reading “Stonehenge.” We were the only people in line. A person (I’m assuming a company employee) came up to us and said our bus was in the street and ready to leave. We ran for the bus, which was on the verge of leaving.

When we arrived at Stonehenge, we received no instructions on where to meet. We assumed it would be the place where we had been dropped off. 

As it turned out, those who were already on the bus when we got on had received written instructions. We did not. The bus driver told some people that the pickup would be at 1 p.m. and others, 2 p.m. 

Before 1 p.m., we gathered at what we assumed was the pickup point, but there was no bus there. It had driven off from another pickup point. If another passenger hadn’t noticed we weren’t on the bus and insisted we be found, we would have been left behind. The bus made a second pass and picked us up. There were no signs designating the bus as a Golden Tours bus.

We wrongly assumed that the return drop-off point would be the same coach office we had departed from in central London. Instead, we were dropped off in the middle of the block on Brompton Road, with no directions or aid. 

One single female traveler kept repeating, “But I don’t know where I am.” Other passengers took her under their wings so she would be safe. We entered a hotel nearby to get help.

We definitely do not feel we got our money’s worth.

JUDITH C. DYRHSEN

Yuba City, CA

ITN emailed Golden Tours at customerservices@goldentours.com and received the following reply.

Thank you for contacting us with regards to Judith Dyrhsen’s feedback. I hope I am able to provide relevant information in regards to the experiences she detailed in her letter.  

The service we offer to our customers is a complimentary pickup from city centre hotels, but London traffic during peak times can, unfortunately, sometimes cause delays. However, all of our coaches are fitted with tracking devices, therefore we are able to track each coach’s movements, and we can see that these customers did suffer a 20-minute wait.

The free pickup coach used is not the coach that will continue its journey to each destination. One feeder coach is used to pick up the customers from their requested locations, then, upon arriving at our Victoria office, they will be boarded on the appropriate coaches to join their tours.

Each customer will receive, upon boarding, a wristband* relevant to the tour each is taking, along with an instruction paper explaining about Stonehenge and the pickup location. The time of pickup from Stonehenge is 12:45 p.m. We are pleased to know that these customers were able to return on the coach back to the city.

We do offer our sincere regrets that they felt the service we provided didn’t meet their expectation. We received no further comments from other customers aboard the tour.

HELEN KITSON, Guest Relations Advisor, Golden Tours, 156 Cromwell Rd., London, England, SW7 4EF, U.K.

*Regarding wristbands, Ms. Dyrhsen wrote to ITN, “We did not receive any wristbands, and no wristbands were required for us to get back on the bus.”