We were in Chicago this weekend and bought tickets for an hop-on-hop-off-tour. We have done many hop-on-hop-off-tours in many cities; this was the worst so far. 7 reasons why you should avoid this company:
1. Massive route changes without information ahead: There was a half-marathon in Chicago on that day, so one third to one half of the bus route was closed. They didn't tell us ahead that they skip this part. They just changed the route. When all the passengers started asking why we didn't go to the museum area, the guide was really surprised we didn't know about it. She said the ticket sellers knew ahead that there will be changes on that Sunday. No other guest on the tour was informed ahead. Everybody was angry.
2. The quality of the microphones sucks! In one bus it was even impossible to understand what the guide was saying, though we moved to the very front of the bus close to him.
3. The quality of the guides sucks! 2 out of 3 guides were really bad. The one other guide was ok regarding her knowledge, but she told it in a very boring way. Hey - your job is to introduce your city in an interesting way - that goal was definitely not reached.
4. They skip stops in-between without informing you: In the afternoon they were driving the "full tour again" (the half-marathon was over, by the way then it was already too late for the museum visit, so our plans for that day were spoiled) - but still they skipped stops in-between. We asked why they don't stop on a couple of places that are marked as stops on their map and the tour guide didn’t even know these are stops. She asked a ticket seller and was told that these are not "full" stops, they only stop there if somebody asks for it. Nobody told us ahead that we have to request certain stops and the map on their flyer doesn't tell that neither.
5. No good time schedule: On Sundays the buses go only every half an hour (they didn't tell us this when we bought the tickets the day before) - and you even couldn't rely on that. One time we waited 50 min and another time 45 min. That is not what you want to do if you just have two days to get to know the city - spending so much time with waiting for the transportation. By the way, the "red buses" (unfortunately not ours) passed by every 15 min, though it was Sunday.
6. Talking about waiting: they say the tour takes two hours - yes, two hours, but that includes standing on several stops quite long (10-20 min) and waiting for new passengers. That is cheating on the time of the customers.
7. Bad customer service: By the end of the day we were really angry. I called their service line to complain and they were so unfriendly. When we complained that nobody told us about the change of the route ahead, the women just said in a very arrogant way that it says on the ticket that the route and schedule can change due to traffic and that we knew that ahead. Well I am not sure if you can consider a half-marathon, which is planned months ahead and closes down part of the city, can be considered as normal "traffic issues". But obviously they didn’t care for that.
Conclusion: avoid this bus line. Use the competitor (the red buses), they might be more expensive, but at least you get something for your money instead of only frustration.
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