Found transfer service unreliable

By: Francis Garcia
This article appears on page 22 of the February 2018 issue.

At the start of a solo trip to Europe, May 12-24, 2017, I arrived in late morning at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport. For private-car transfer service between Schiphol and Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, my travel agent had made arrangements with Lindbergh Tour & Travel and Marcus Executive Car Services.

At the airport, though there were many people holding up signs for groups, I found no one waiting for me in the arrivals area. I kept walking about, looking, for perhaps 20 minutes, then I used the restroom, bought a multiday transit pass at a nearby stand, wandered about the folks holding signs, bought a cup of coffee, wandered about. . . . 

After an hour, preparing to use public transit, I took a final spin around the arrivals area, and at the back of the folks with signs I found a young man talking to someone and holding a sign with my name. He told me he was wondering where I was. 

On this trip, arrangements also had been made for a 7:15 a.m. pickup at my hotel to take me to Centraal Station for a rail trip to Bruges. I was waiting in the hotel lobby at 7 a.m. When no one arrived by 7:30, I called the service to discover that they had no record of a pickup. A car was sent, but I arrived a bit too late for my train (and had to take one a couple of hours later). Also, I had to pay the driver for the ride.

Upon my return to Amsterdam, my instructions were to meet the driver in the lobby of the Ibis hotel next door to Centraal Station. When no driver arrived, I called the service, after which a driver was sent out.

Lastly, for transit to the airport, my pickup at the hotel arrived late, with the explanation that she had been sent to the wrong hotel. (My notes do not tell me whether I had to call the service for this ride or the service called the hotel.)

It was a couple of months before my trip when these arrangements with Lindbergh were booked by my travel agent, Beatrice Varene of Santa Cruz Travel (800/624-0282, www.santacruztravel.com). The private-car transfer service was part of a package organized by her.

After my return, Beatrice called asking how the trip went. When I told her of my troubles, she had me send her receipts for the private car transfer to Centraal Station that I had to pay for and for the rebooking fee for the train to Bruges. I was refunded for both, which I appreciated. 

If I were to make this trip to Amsterdam again, I would forgo private-car transfers and, instead, choose the city’s convenient public transit system. After my multiday all-city transit card (purchased at the airport) expired, I made good use of one of the all-day, hop-on/hop-off canal boat services for €21 (near $25).

ITN emailed copies of Mr. Garcia’s letter to Lindbergh Tour & Travel (Damrak 26, 1012 LJ Amsterdam, Netherlands; excursions@lindbergh.nl) and to Marcus Executive Car Services (Sloterweg 260, 1171 VH Badhoevedorp, North Holland, Netherlands; info@marcus.nl) and received no response.

The travel agent Beatrice Varene told ITN that she did not book the car service for Mr. Garcia directly but that she booked it through Goway (Glendale, CA; www.goway.com). ITN emailed Goway and received no reply.

FRANCIS GARCIA

Santa Cruz, CA