Highly disorganised and unethical - Equestrian Escapes

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Equestrian Escapes is a travel company based in Chesire UK . They are the most disorganised, incompetent and unethical company I have ever dealt with in any field. My partner, a friend and I booked a package with them to the 2014 World Equestrian Games (August / September 2014), which included tickets to the games, travel from England to Normandy and accommodation. We figured they would be OK, as they were UK’s official ticket and travel partners.

The unethical part. The 3 of us had paid for a 4 person cabin in a camping ground at Port-en-Bessin-Huppain. We had been charged on top of all the fees for accommodation, travel and tickets, an additional £UK1200 for upgraded accommodation. However, we were allocated to the lowest price cabin at the campground, which was small and extremely musty – not great when one of your party has asthma!. We raised this with Equestrian Escapes multiple times, but each time they completely ignored the issue. When we complained to their representatives in Normandy, they simply insisted that we did have an upgraded cottage, even though they did not know what cottage we were in. We also emailed Equestrian Escapes head office, and they have just ignored emails.

We later established, by talking to the owners of the campsite, that Equestrian Escapes made a block booking of some of the cabins, and decided that they would nominate a small number of the cheapest cottages as the base level cottages, and would call all other cottages, including a number of the cheapest cottages, an upgrade. This is clearly how they were able to insist we had an upgrade, without knowing what cottage we were in.

It’s hard to see how you can call this anything but fraud – they claimed they were proving upgraded accommodation, charged a large premium for doing so, with no intention of providing anything other than the cheapest accommodation available.

The incompetent part. We first started to have misgivings about the company when they couldn’t seem to sort out travel details to Normandy (but by then we'd paid our money). Even though they knew we were coming from Australia to London, they for some obscure reason decided we would like to be picked up in Bristol, which is around 190 km from London. When we sorted out that we actually wanted to be picked up in London, we found that the London pick up point was actually Potters Bar, outside greater London. Then, we got a somewhat paniced email about a week before the games started, asking for our mobile numbers in case they needed to get in touch with us. That might sound reasonable except, (1) shouldn’t they have thought of putting a passenger list together before this – we had booked more than 12 months earlier (2) they already our mobile phone numbers on multiple emails we had sent them (3) they never bothered to ring us, even when they had very good reason to do so, like when they forgot to send a bus to pick us up at the games.

We got up early on the day of departure from London, and caught a train to Potters Bar, to be there before the 9am scheduled pick up, which didn’t actually arrive until around 10.30. The driver had started in Bristol around 5am and been to various points along route, and said there was no way in the world he could possibly have got to Potters Bar by 9am. After packing 61 passengers (plus driver) into a bus licensed to carry 60 passengers, we then set off on the very long trip to Port-en-Bessin-Huppain in Normandy. This took much longer than Equestrian Escapes had allowed for and we eventually arrived at about 8pm (remember, only 1 driver!). The Equestrian Escapes people at Port-en-Bessin-Huppain were very cross that we were so late – somehow it was the passengers fault that Equestrian Escapes didn’t know how long the drive would take. They told us they had “saved dinner” for us like they had done us a big favour and we had it eat it “immediately” – oh and that’s an extra 17 euros, and no, there’s nothing else to eat.

Their management of the buses to and from the games each day can only be described as incompetent. They had multiple buses, and allocated people to individual buses each day. However, they could never manage to work out if the right people were on the right bus. They tried reading out passenger names a few times, but always seemed to get bored about half way through and didn’t ever get to the end of the list. After a few days of doing nothing at all to make sure the right people were on the bus, they decided to try counting the number of people on board, but that only works if the counter is capable of counting. So they went back to doing nothing. And then there was the time at the end of the day when they completely forgot to send a bus, and left us waiting on the side of the road for an hour and a half. That was the same night that after they finally got us a bus, they directed the bus down a steep deadend road, where there wasn’t enough room for the bus to turn around to get back out. The Equestrian Escapes people had no idea what to do, other than to say – “we could ring and find out what they did the other day, when one of our other buses drove down here”!!! In the end, we the passengers had to get out, stop the traffic coming down the road, and direct the driver in backing up the hill – a steep, narrow road for about a kilometre.
I could go on, but this is already very long, and if you’ve read this far, you’ll get the gist.

One other point to note . The same people also run a company called Music Festival Holidays, presumably with the same levels of incompetence and total disregard for customer satisfaction.

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There is 1 Comment

We had a rotten holiday with this company as well - when checking the reviews go beyond the 5 stars to see the others as it seems to be either brilliant or awful.

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