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Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

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Austin, Texas
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Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Posting this in the forums as the TripAdvisor administrators won't allow reviews of Travel Agencies even though this company operates tours as well. Here is my originally written review on the company and hope it helps future travelers:

1 out of 5 stars

The San Juan Travel Agency is not on Trip Advisor but deserves to have their business presence so that honest feedback can be given.

We used their company 3 times mostly because they have the largest presence in Flores, but we would not recommend using them unless you had to. Our three bookings with them were:

1. Van from Belize City to Flores, fair price and went well, just that they advertised as if they were a big Bus and not a van. Upon arriving to Flores the driver picked up a San Juan employee (scar on left check) that told us all ATM's on the Flores Island were out of cash and pressured us to getting local currency at the supermarket. Next before dropping us off in Flores pressured sold us on how San Juan has the cheapest tours (not true) and that the ONE TIME ONLY prices he was offering couldn't be beat. Once we insisted no sale that we preferred to wait he was nothing but rude and told us to get out of the van in the middle of Flores (where originally they said they would drop us off at our hostel).

2. We booked through our hostel Transportation from Flores to Tikal and back, had we know it was with San Juan we would of went with someone else, but it actually went very well and we enjoyed their service. Timetables for return trips were limited. We decided perhaps our first experience was just one bad employee and not to judge the whole company.

3. Booking transportation from Flores to Antigua, after our second experience going better we found San Juan offered the cheapest "1st Class" bus service from Flores to Antigua. The "1st Class" service was with Rapido del Sur bus line which after taking it we learned it was "2nd Class" and San Juan Travel had lied to us as they showed us brand new "1st Class" buses and the one we got was from the 1970's with people sitting in the isles, plus insult to injury we overpaid by double versus just going to the bus station by cab and booking directly.

Avoid San Juan Travel Agency if you can.

46 replies to this topic
Granada Nicaragua
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11. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

We were scammed just yesterday. The guy that sold us the ticket is a couple of doors down from the Villa del Lago Hotel in the Guatemala Expeditions travel agency. His name was Jimmy and we met him at a restaurant a few doors up from the same hotel. We did such a screamer on the manager of the restaurant, who was obiviously in on whole thing, that he helped us track down alternate transportation. The email of Guatemala expedition is bogus as was the phone number Jimmy gave us to contact him. He says he is from Masaya, Nicaragua, but beware, he is a scammer. The driver that was supposed to pick us up, speeded up when he went by, I don't think he knew we were supposed to be picked up. The local buses are better, the people are nicer and they were helpful.

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12. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

I bought a ticket from belize city ferry terminal to el remate last week - it was on a linea dorada bus but purchased through san juan agency. I asked the lady if it really went to el remate like it said on the sign and she said yes and wrote me out a ticket for el remate and told the driver that's where i was going. When we were almost there he asked me which hotel I was going to and when i said the name of one of the hotels on the north side of the lake he said to the co-driver 'that's around the other side' (in spanish), suddenly stopped the vehicle and said 'this is your stop'. I smelt a rat and said 'is this el remate' and he said yes. Eventually it transpired that it was not El remate at all but a place called 'el crucero' and he tried to tell me they don't go to el remate and this was as close as they got - 3km from my destination. I said that the woman at the agency had told me they did go there and he replied that she hadn't asked 'his permission'. i wasn't prepared to walk that far with a heavy pack so I sat on the bus and refused to move and told him (in spanish - those lessons have really paid off!) that if the service didn't go to el remate he should have said when the woman told him that is where i was going and when he saw my ticket which clearly had that as the destination. When i refused to move he abused me calling me all sorts of names so i just said 'show me my ticket then take me to where it says'. He thought he could scare me by starting to drive off in the direction of flores but i stood my ground and eventually he slammed on the brakes did a big u turn and took me to el remate - not to my hotel but to just inside the city limits (actually he did me a favour as the hotel i had chosen - the mon ami- looked awful when i visited it subsequently!!) - where they virtually threw my bag out after me .

I thought it was shocking that he would abandon a lone female traveller and tell her she was somewhere she wasn't as it was getting dark!!! Give me a chicken bus any day over this bunch of crooks. Needless to say I look a lovely collectivo back to the border when I returned to Belize!!!

Liverpool, United...
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13. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Has anybody used ADN? Would be good for people to share their experiences with this bus company.

Regards,

Mark

Edited: 7:08 pm, July 08, 2013
Chicago, Illinois
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3 posts
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14. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Here is my exoerince.

I wish I saw your advice before we booked our round trip Flores - Tikal - Flores. We did not know any better and we let cab driver to take us to the San Juan Travel Agency. We just arrived to Flores with an owernight bus from Antigua and did not have time to look for alternatives as we wished to see Tikal the same morning.

It was after 6am, and the people who greeted us at the door of San Juan Travel agency sold us round trip Flores - Tikal-Flores for Q100 each. Then we also asked for a bus to Chetumal, Mexico. The same guy sold us 2 bus tickets for Q 450 each. We didn't have enough Qs, so we payed in $.

Well, few moments later we realized that we got ripped off. The were at least 3 agency people involved in selling us tickets and all where in playing along! The fixed prices were listed on the wall!!! The round trip to Tikal is Q80 and to Chetumal is Q 355. We told them right away, but the agency staff pretended like they didn't even notice and then, because the guy who wrote us a ticket was gone ( he ran away), everyone pretended that it is not their problem, or that they cannot do anything about it. We stood there and argued that they lied to us, but they refused to give us our money back, later agreed to pay only half of the difference.

Meanwhile, we were supposed to be on the bus starting 6am to go to Tikal. It was 6:30 - we didn't have our money back nor the bus was going anywhere. People who were supposed to take that 6am bus were getting very angry, there was a couple stating that they were supposed to be at 5am bus, but it just left them behind. Finally, we didn't get our money back, but were promised later in the day when we come back from the ruins, they will pay us back.

When finally the bus was on the way to Tikal, some guide jumped in the bus and saw how unhappy we all were. He kept stating: "oh, it is not my problem agency made you angry", "oh, it happens all the time", this guide was trashing his own company and giving remarks towards us, that it is not his problem. None of us, bought any services from him, he got angry and left the bus.

Later in the day we returned to the agency, and we asked them to give all our money back and just keep the ones for the Tikal. At the agency again there were all new people. This time a woman sitting behind the counter was rude and didn't even apologize. She said that it was not their agent who sold us those tickets and that she can pay us only the difference in Qs. Well, she was using a bad $ exchange rate, so again, we were getting ripped off. Finally, we went to the cash station, got enough Qs to pay and got all our $s back.

So, from our experience by getting ripped off and listening to other angry customers who wanted 6am bus, but now were leaving Flores about 6:45 - I would never never recommend this agency to anyone.

Melbourne...
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15. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Had a similar experience with the same guy (scar on left cheek). If dog turds could sprout arms and legs, this would be how they would look and behave.

We told the guy we wanted to go to Tikal in the afternoon and he started writing us out a ticket without us asking. I told him that we would think about it and probably sign up the next day and asked him where he works. He got very agitated and told us that we should have thought about this earlier because he's already booked us in, i.e., spent ten seconds writing on a bit of paper. I told him this and he started to ignore us, so I held onto the ticket. When we arrived he followed us into the hostel and demanded the bit of paper back, and then snatched it off me. Upon reading these forums, it makes sense why he's so pushy. San Juan appears to have a terrible reputation.

We went to Crasborne and booked our tickets the next day for 50q less than San Juan and the guy was very friendly.

Liverpool, United...
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22 posts
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16. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Why is this company still able to operate ? We saw SJ shuttles everywhere around Peten region but did not touch them with a barge pole (safer to walk and swim!).....

Agencies in Flores also try to sell SJ shuttles over Guatemala/Mexico border. Better going to Belize City and then to Chetumal from there with ADO or similar company. There are also some very good companies in Belize and it is a nice country to go via.

Mi Wuk Village...
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17. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Sparky, The rule of law is often merely advisory in Guatemala. San Juan has for decades had it's fingers in lots of stuff in the area. From bribing officials and police to being silent partners in several local businesses. The people they rip off are tourists. Even if the authorities were to take someone to court, the tourist witness is long gone. The guy who sold the phony ticket is often shown not to be an official employee. They own the biggest fleet of shuttles so it's not easy for a hotel to boycott them. Frankly, they deliver 95+% of everyone they deal with. They know how far they can go before a crackdown is made. All too common in Guatemala.

Melbourne...
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3 posts
12 reviews
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18. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

The most effective thing might be to warn people if you see others being roped into a sale with San Juan. The same guy I posted about earlier rocked up outside with a group of people this arvo and I talked them out of taking his tour. That's my small win for the day :-)

Liverpool, United...
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22 posts
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19. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Good advice thanks. What an amazing country!!

Liverpool, United...
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22 posts
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20. Re: Avoid San Juan Travel Agency

Well done, this will only help people enjoy this beautiful country....

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