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Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

Brewer, Maine
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Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

We had a quick 4 day trip with this operator out of Kampala in January 2012. The trip included Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for Gorilla Trekking and Queen Elizabeth National Park. The trip was arranged with Robert, the owner, but we had a different guide as Robert was busy with another group. The properties we stayed at were fine and the food very good. The experience of the gorillas at Bwindi was amazing and Queen Elizabeth Park was quite nice as well with a fair amount of wildlife seen. Our driver/guide was really more of a driver with very little information shared. Language may have been a bit of a factor or maybe he just didn't realize that we wanted to know about stuff. I asked a lot of questions, which he would answer, but was never just spontaneously sharing information. Very sadly, we had just left on a morning game drive in Bwindi when our driver/guide got a phone call that his wife, who had been ill, had just died. He asked if we could cancel the rest of the activities so he could immediately return to his family in Kampala. Of course, we agreed. We made it to Kampala in one piece and were dropped at our hotel. I later contacted Robert for a partial refund since we missed out on the last day's activities. His response was that his driver should have continued with the tour, but since we gave him permission to return to his grieving family, there would be no compensation. We are not monsters and certainly would not insist on the tour going forward knowing the man had just lost his wife and was crying as he was driving. Since funds had to be wired to him in advance and no credit cards were used, there was really nothing I could do.

For this customer service issue, I cannot recommend Fish Eagle Tours in Uganda.

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

I have to say I am shocked.

1. that it has taken you 12 months to bother to write this at all and

2. that you can be so mean minded to denigrate your driver in this way.

He had a sick wife and no doubt that was exercising his mind quite a bit. (OK, IN the affluent west we can say he should not have gone to work at all but this in NOT the affluent west. The guy probably needed the work!)

3. then after the sad news you kindly excused him from service BUT promptly expected a refund for the lost time. If you intended to demand re-imbursement from Robert then you should have checked with them.

OK, you are not monsters.

But you saw the gorillas and liked QENP so what exactly was the portioin that you missed out on?

Part of one day? No doubt you can afford it. Get over it.

And no I am not siding or supporting Robert and Fish Eagle who I do not know.

I just cannot think of why you would wait 12 months to demand your pound of flesh by writing this.

Edited: 26 January 2013, 17:07
Brewer, Maine
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2. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

Thank you for impassioned comments. I wrote reviews on about 7 different things today. You'll notice I didn't mention our driver's name so that he could not be targeted. You are right...as a westerner, I do have certain expectations of customer service. The majority of my comments are glowing, if something is lacking, however, I mention it. I obviously could afford it...I was there...but you do not know, nor does it really matter, the sacrifices we made to be there. Even if there was no compensation, dialogue with Robert would have been nice as I did contact him immediately. Maybe you get to go on game drives and safaris all the time. For others of us, it is a special treat. We didn't get what we paid for--through no fault of anyone--it was the circumstances--but Robert did not make it right. Good day.

Isle of Man, United...
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3. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

Without unduly prolonging this, I quote

<through no fault of anyone--it was the circumstances--but Robert did not make it right. > Says it all." NO fault of anyone." Why expect Robert to make it right?

He probably had paid for the Lodging and days Car Hire that you did not use. Why expect him to absorb this? Whatever the circumstances it was your call not his. If you had had to return early for any reason would you have expected him to cover this too?

Edited: 26 January 2013, 18:46
Brewer, Maine
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4. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

Of course not...you think I am that foolish? Silly me, obviously so... Happy Life to you.

Kampala
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5. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

The OP has a valid complaint, and surely he is entitled to voice it. He paid for a service, and through no fault of his own the service was not fulfilled.

The reasons behind the problem are tragic and sad, but that ultimately does not change the fact.

Probably the driver should have contacted his boss to discuss what to do (rather than putting the onus on the paying customer, which seems unfair to the customer). Something like this should be sorted out at a management level initially, and then the management would contact the customer to discuss options.

Probably a small company like Fish Eagle is not in a position to offer any sort of compensation.

I know of many larger (and more expensive) companies that have sent out relief drivers or relief vehicles to replace the unexpected eventualities that can occur in the field. Larger (and more expensive) companies often factor in the cost of contingencies, and have the resources to provide relief at short notice; something that budget companies can not afford.

Unfortunately, in cases like this you often get what you pay for.

Edited: 27 January 2013, 11:57
Kampala, Uganda
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6. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

Unfortunately in Uganda there is No job security. Thus as mentioned the owner was not going to let his driver take immediate leave as i am sure he had no backup plan nor temporary solution on such short notice. Nor could the driver say no as am sure he desperately needed the money for his sick wife's treatment.

Thus if driver had no approval for leave but ask client to go home and he says yes it ends up being an issue between driver and client. It would not work like that in many parts of the world but surely so in Africa and Uganda inparticular.

I just hope the driver did not loose his job in the process as jobs are hard to come by and he is probably still paying for the bills related to his wife.

I am glad the report is written as it shows for others coming down some of the complexities in choosing company as well as the real life situations too many Ugandan faces.

If you manage to get a refund do know that the full amount would surely be taken from any dues to the driver... That how it seems to work down here.

Brewer, Maine
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7. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

Thank you, SolKampala and expatswe, for your thoughtful comments. This was a difficult situation, indeed. We learned on the rushed drive back to Kampala that his wife had taken ill just about 10 hours before the devastating news. As best as I could surmise, it sounded like a hypertensive crisis resulting in a brain hemorrhage and she didn't last long. Obviously it didn't bring his wife back, but we tipped him about 5 times what we would have expected to normally tip as we were certain he did have a financial burden in addition to his emotional burden and loss of the love of his life.

We were there as nurses for a medical mission and this was the few days we were not working providing care for local folks. The tour was arranged by the mission coordinator in Nairobi. It was just an unfortunate situation.

Again, thank you for your helpful comments.

Isle of Man, United...
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8. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

I have no wish to prolong this but remain puzzled by two things.

Why if you felt able to tip so generously, and thanks for the kindness you showed there, do you expect a refund from Robert for waht was in effect your decision to curtail the trip?

and if so, why has it taken you 12 months to post your criticism of Fish Eagles customer service?

Your accommodation would be prepaid. It was your choice not to use it.

Kampala
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9. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

My take on this, is really the owner should have sent you a replacement driver, even if it meant arranging something locally with private hire in the interim.

The fact that you effectively chose to leave the tour, therefore more or less waived the rest of it.

Kampala, Uganda
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10. Re: Fish Eagle Tours--Gorilla trekking, Uganda. Not so much...

very interesting comments but the director should have sent you a replacement driver immediately but looks like you sorted it out with the driver instead of the director first,what happens to the chain of command?