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method of payment for an African Safari

colorado
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method of payment for an African Safari

Every tour operator based in Tanzania which I have contacted have stated that I must pay for the safari by bank transfer to their account in Tanzania. Since reading about the scams and frauds which can happen when signing up for a safari I want to pay by credit card. One tour company said I could make payment by credit card but that there would be a 10% surcharge. My question is if the'method of payment' is negotiable if I take the position that is the only way I would sign up for their safari. I would be willing to pay a 3-5% surchage but not 10%. Otherwise my other option is to sign up for a safari with a tour company which has an office or agent in the U.S. but I will then have to pay an additional fee to this middleman.

I am working on arranging a safari for January, 2010 and what I don't quite understand is why a tour operator does not want to accept a credit card for payment as the charge would be processed several months before I begin the safari so what is the risk to the tour company? TIA for any replies.

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

Payment by Card is usually not easy. (To be honest I would never do it whether acceptable or not.)

There is a lot of cloning and other problems. In view of the risk of 'charge back' most safari operators will not accept them or will hike a substantial charge.

So you are faced with either paying the 10% or paying by Bank Transfer. Threatening to book elsewhere will only bring forth a shrug.

You seem reluctant to pay a Tanzanian charge but somehow happy to pay a middleman in the USA. I find that odd. Why do you trust your fellow Americans more than the firm who will provide your Safari?

There is little difference in payment cycle between payment by card and by Bank transfer so this part of your 'argument' does not stand scrutiny.

The risk to the tour company is twofold.

1.They need a cash commitment from you in order to confirm Accommodation bookings for which they then become liable.

2. You may not turn up on the day, whether by disinclination, illness or force majeure. How do they get their money then? You would charge back and leave them in the lurch like a lot of your fellows did in early 2008 when there was a slight problem in Kenya that devasted the tourism trade both there and very stupidly over the border in Tanzania.

So you have three choices. Pay by Transfer, pay a US Agent which is actually neither safer nor cheaper, or stay home.

You are leaving it late to book for january anyway so don't ponder the problem too long.

If it is any help. I have made over 25 trips, paid by T/F every time and have never had a moments worry.

Cologne, Germany
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2. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

I think you only see one side of the coin, the "what happens if the tourist does not fulfil his commitment" side...however, there is obviously the other side as well: I've made about half a dozen trips with EA based operators and in about half the cases THEY did not fulfil THEIR commitments; for example, I've always wanted to go to Samburu Nat'l Park in Kenya but I needed three attempts to get their; twice the companies promised me my reservations were confirmed, twice they told me "we're sorry but you won't go there" once I was in Kenya...in these cases it would be MUCH easier to get at least part of your money back if you were dealing with operators in your own country; it is simply impossible to go to court and deal with lawyers if there are 10,000 miles between you and them

and please don't tell me "that was Kenya, here in Tanzania everything is different" - I've read some of the topics here and every once in a while people complain about itenaries that were not mmmwmmet,mmilastminute-changs or -charges, etc

Stanley, Falkland...
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3. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

You don't have to pay a fee to the middleman. At least, not one that doesn't include a sizeable discount to what you would have paid.

Most agents will receive 10-30% discounts, so they could still add on 25% markup and you could still pay less than if you dealt directly with a local operator.

As they might be doing you a great service, it seems fair that they earn something for doing so.

The reason credit cards are unpopular is because that is what the banks will take from the operator. It is not greed on the operator's part.

Isle of Man, United...
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4. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

oliver,

I was simply indicating that the OP has choices.

He is trying to buck the system "the American Way" and it won't work. You deal with Operators on their terms or you don't deal.

Yes. There can be problems and yes these problems are not confined to just one country. I never suggested that they were. I have only one experience of Kenya and actually paid cash on arrival.

I make regular trips to Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia. I find and use an operator I trust. I have an agreed itinerary. It works.

The problems you mention are not confined to African Travel. Visit the AirTravel forum and see how folks get stitched up by Airlines and Travel Agents.

Cologne, Germany
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5. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

mfuwe

I agree with you all you wrote - however, if problems arise, it is far easier to deal with a company that's based in your homeland than with one 10,000 miles away

but of course you're right, everyone can decide for himself...as I said in my other reply: you want to leave out the middle man to save some money, so gotta take some risks...

Isle of Man, United...
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6. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

I agree Oliver (but some of the sharks nearer home can be darned hard to get money out of as well.)

Travel well.

Saint Paul...
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7. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

A bit annoying that this topic has two strings...

When I was going through the process to get my merchant account so that I could accept credit card payments, I was flatly turned down by the bank. They told me that they don't give accounts to travel businesses anymore because there's a huge risk to them. They said there were too many cases of customers reversing their transactions and the travel companies have very little recourse. When the travel companies lose too much money, they then fail to pay the credit card service provider and the credit card service provider loses out. When I pushed harder, the guy told me that they had recently turned down Air Canada because they thought there was too much risk. His point: leave us alone. Luckily, I found another contact in the industry who was willing to help me and eventually got my account. At the start, we only only accepted 50% of the total payment to be made by credit card because of the horror stories we heard about customers reversing their charges and the credit card companies always siding with them. But we've yet to have a customer reverse a charge on us so now we're taking greater risks. I suppose we'll learn a lesson some day???

FYI, the contract with the merchant services says that we are not allowed to charge our customers extra to use a credit card. That's why we generally tell people that the price we offer is the 'cash-discounted' price so if they want to use their credit card, it will be higher - by 2.5% which is slightly less than what we are charged. I saw someone else doing it this way and it sounded like a good idea to me.

BTW, we require 100% up front. I wonder if we're losing business because of it? Every now and then, someone will ask if they pay a portion upon arrival and for a while we agreed to 20% on arrival. But we've changed that now and stick to our terms. Airlines, cruises, others? expect full payment up front, so we're doing the same. It's just much easier that way. Otherwise, I'm expecting someone in Tanzania to handle hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars and get it safely to the appropriate place. I'm open to suggestions and comments.

colorado
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8. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

mfuwe, I appreciate your replys to my concern about 'method of payment'. I have learned a great deal from you and others on the Tripadvisor website that are knowledgeable about traveling in East Africa. I have read just about every post on the Tanzania forum going back to earlly July. By way of background I consider myself somewhat of an expereienced traveler. As examples, in 1965 I hitch-hiked around the world. I embarked on my escape by working my way across the Atlantic Ocean on a Norwegian freighter. Upon landing in Rotterdam I traveled through western Europe eventually landing in Greece. In Athens, I hooked up with another traveler and we proceeded to to trek throguh such countries as Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Malaysia. It was summertime and very hot! In Singapore we booked passage on a freighter in deck class (ie. sleeping on the deck with the 'locals') to Hong Kong. We used the same mode of transportation to reach Japan. The final leg of my adventure was working across the Pacific Ocean on an American freighter. My diet on this journey consisted of bread, cheese and hard boiled eggs and I rarely slept in a bed. I began my trip from Los Angeles with $500 in my pocket and I earned $200 working on the American freighter so my net cost was $300.

Additionally, since retiring in 1996 my wife and I have traveled to Thailand, Vietnam, Czech Republic,

Italy, Ireland, Croatia, France, Egypt, Argentina, Uruuguay, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Spain and Greece.

We are both 68 so we obviously no longer hitch-hike but we do make all of our own travel arrangements and don't use travel agents. However attempting to make arrangements for an African Safari has been both challenging and frustrating as we are concerned about being scamed by a tour operator. We already have our plane tickets and will be arriving in Kilimanjaro on January 20, 2010. I have put together the followng itinerary:

-

-overnight in Arusha

-overnight in Lake Manyara

-3 nights in Sergenti at the Ndutu Safari Lodge

-2 nights in Sergenti at the Exclusive Mobile Camp

-2 nights Ngorongoro (Sopa Lodge/Farm House)

-1 night in Tarangire at the river Camp Lodge

-1 night in Arusha at the Kia Lodge-depart for

Amsterdam the next day.

The tour company we are considering is Leopard Tours which has quoted us a price of $4458 per person. Do you have an opinion of this tour operator? Finally, you seem to travel extensively in Africa would you be willing to share with us the tour company you use?

Any replies wouldd be most welcome. TIA.

Isle of Man, United...
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9. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

Nice to hear it from the Suppliers angle Brian. I have no problem with that. It is a matter of balance. Fairdealing begets contented clients begets no charge backs. (You would not believe the number of chancers who screamed for deposit refunds during the Kenya tourbles of 2008. Did they expect the supplier to eat the loss caused by their change of heart?)

You mention 'cruises'. Not only do they take pay up front but they now add in the tips too. Amazing what some folk will put up with.

Don't you dare try that!!!

Isle of Man, United...
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10. Re: method of payment for an African Safari

Hi Hutch.

Looked like a great trip way back then.

Bit of a tall order for the rest of your post.

Leopard Tours have lots of vehicles. You should do a search on here for comments. I have not used them and doubt I would. I have to say your costs for a ten night trip are way over the top. Check this against another two recent posts "Cultural visits" and "Low middle or High". Not exact, memory going, but you should find them from that.

In TZ I have used Hippotours in Dar, Hoopoe and Swala in Arusha all without fuss. I tend to find an Operator and stick with them provided they remain competitive. Like you I am not in the first flush of youth and my money gets spread thinly.

Dealing with African countries can appear daunting but is really little different to home. it is just they do things different there, often with good reason as Brian has explained.

I like your itinerary. Are all these places confirmed? I ask as if you have not paid a deposit they may not be.