I had 36 hours in Buenos Aires over Easter Weekend. This was my first time in the city and I was very excited about being there! I wanted to take in as much as I could as my wife and I are planning on returning to BA in November.
My hotel (Park Tower) concierge made arrangements for me to join BA Walking Tours and, after speaking to Carlos, I quickly changed and met the tour for their 10am departure. I had agreed to go on a 2 segment walk at $37US per segment- $74US for the day. I felt that was a decent price.
The tour itself was very good. Although quickly paced, with little time for questions or discussion, it did cover a lot and that was my main objective. Carlos is an excellent tour guide and the day was quite enjoyable. My fellow tourists were very pleasant and I had a good overview of the city.
Unfortunately, this was all marred when I paid for the tour. Having converted my US$ to $ARS at the airport on arrival I was prepared to pay Carlos the current rate (5 to 1) for a total of about A$375. I gave him $400ARS and he promptly told me that was not enough. He informed me the rate was 8-1 and that I owed him $600ARS ($120 at the bank rate of 5-1). The rate Carlos was insisting on is what is referred to as the Blue Rate (A euphemism for Black Market rate) and one not available to tourists without risk. He was absolutely unbending on this rate and quite aggressive about it. Being in a group environment, in a part of the city I didn't know, with only one day to spend there I reluctantly paid the $600ARS.
This grated on me over the course of the day/evening though. I had been referred to this tour by my hotel concierge and felt the need to tell them what happened. Cristina, the concierge on duty, was furious that this had happened. She immediately phoned Carlos to find out what happened and was met with the same attitude that I received. Carlos did not, to his credit, alter the story as I had relayed it and, in fact, agreed 100% with my assertion of what happened. What he refused to do was acknowledge that this was in any way wrong. Cristina grew increasingly agitated and informed Carlos that she and her colleagues would no longer be referring his company to their guests (Park Tower and The Sheraton are connected).
What a sad outcome. Carlos, for the sake of making a quick $40, left a tourist with the feeling of being ripped off and lost his referral business at one of the best and biggest hotels in the city. What is particularly sad is that he is a good tour guide.
In all of my years of traveling all over the world nothing like this has happened to me- first time for everything I guess.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
April 2, 2013
I am glad you enjoyed your walk. You say it 'covers a lot' but is 'quick paced': Many customers do not like us delaying, as they want to see it all—that is why we keep a pace that satisfies most. It is important you understand that though as you say, you are sold 'government pesos' at the Tourist rate of 5-1 we (not tourists) can only buy US$ at real market rate of 8-1 so if you pay us US$37 at a rate of 5-1 and give us ARG$185, when we want to make it back into $US at 8-1 we are only getting US$23 and not the US$37 we charge and advertise and which you had agreed to pay (thus losing US$14 out of each US$37 or a 40% loss).
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We really try hard to give you a true, real experience and we did explain along the walk that In Argentina inflation is rampant. The International Monetary Fund has recently censured the Argentine government for producing inaccurate data by saying inflation is currently less than 26%. Check the NASDAQ Dow Jones Business News, February 15, 2013, Argentina Inflation report. Because of these dishonest government practices, citizens here massively seek refuge in the dollar which sells for 8-1 but is bought by the government from tourists at 5-1. All we ask is to be paid the prices we advertise.
Also, if you had checked the newspapers, the going rate was actually 8.43 to 1 that day, so we were actually making an effort to follow "Good" (friendly) "Business Practices" and gave you a 0.43-1discount which you never noticed.
To avoid any confusion and for your convenience, we ask you to please pay us exactly as we advertise or use your credit card.
It was good walking with you, and I appreciate all your useful review comments, but I hope you would remove the unfair "Poor Business Practices" from the title and change your rating, giving us the the top rating our walks and information deserve (and most users are happy to award us).
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.