My wife and I arrived in India 14 days ago with plans to travel the country for our honeymoon.
We were recommended to go to the Government Tour Agency at Connaught Place, their address and contact details are below:
1, Municipal Market, State Entry Rd. Corner, Connaught Circus, New Delhi
+91- 11- 23360657
The actual name of this agent is Primero Travel & Tours which we found out only after we purchased the tour.
These guys are stating that they are government tour operators and are fraudulently charging 5-6 times what a tour should be worth. Their slogan at the front of the building states “Tourist Only”.
We organized a 26 day tour with Primero Tours and were charged over $7,200 Australian dollars which works out to be $280 per day. Expensive for India!
The hotel standards that were promised were not met. Bharat one of the salesmen we dealt with categorically promised us an above 5 star tour of Rajasthan and a 12 day tour through Kerala “6 stars, better than 5 star Palaces” was his punch line. It’s all a play on words, as we discovered a very cheap hotel can have the word Palace in the name. When he offers packages, he will suggest a “deluxe” package or an “economy” package. "Deluxe" is a cover for the rooms he will book you in. Deluxe rooms in Indian hotels are the cheapest rooms available.
They ended up putting us in $40-60 per night accommodation. The cheapest hotels that he could get away with. According to our calculations that we checked online at the hotel websites during each stay, accommodation for the whole tour would have cost around $1300 AU. On top of getting scammed on the price, 2 of the 3 hotels we stayed at before leaving the tour, were undergoing significant renovations. The hotel experiences were unacceptable, with air conditioners rattling and dripping on us through the night. The food quality was terrible, my wife still has food poisoning 4 days since we have arrived home. The electrics would often not work, or be totally faulty... fuses popping, TV’s not working. No hot water at all. The pools were a sales pitch and weren’t even functional, besides being used as an oversized bird bath, one pool had a building supply metal pole hanging out of it.
From a tour perspective we were told that camel safari’s / elephant safari’s and local tour services would be provided. Besides having a driver, nothing that they promised as part of the tour was followed through with. The drivers, although nice people, were not travel guides and would rarely have any idea where the hotels were located, let alone did they have ideas for site seeing. On one occasion, arriving in Jodphur, we spent over an hour and half trying to find the hotel. The Marugarh “Palace” was subsequently 28km out of town.
We were promised a Government van as transportation, which didn’t happen. The tour was handled with a small compact sedan. Not that this is a big issue, it was just further lies to build trust.
Once we paid the money up front their story started to change. The 6 star Palaces that we were promised became heritage hotels the following day when we picked up our travel documents. Calling the hotels we stayed at “heritage” is a far fetch. The men's names that organized this scam were, Mahinder and Bharat, they are crooked criminals who will lie to your face about what they will offer. On more than one occasion we asked them if this tour was legitimate as we have heard of people getting ripped off. They looked us in the face, talked about their “karma” and that they wouldn’t be making much profit and tried to pretend that they were our friends. They even offered us a free nights accommodation in The Royal Plaza [New Delhi] as a sign of good faith. This is just a carrot they dangle to build the relationship. The hotel, although nice, is only $120 per night. A small price to pay for them before they steal thousands of your dollars.
Finally on arrival back to Australia I found a fraudulent transaction on my credit card for over $1500. Whether or not this is directly linked to Primero Travels is under investigation by my bank. But chances are more than likely that if it wasn’t primero directly it is one of the dodgy “hotels” that the company put us in.
Coming from a country where buyer protection is regulated and where companies are in a position to be accountable to their customers is a weakness that they will prey on. You expect them to do what you pay for. They will take your money because you so willingly give it over.
Avoid this company at all costs and book the transport and accommodation yourself. You will save yourself time, money, and the headache of dealing with thieves.