We were promised dolphins and apes, but we only got tunnels

By | January 29th, 2017

When Faye Scher learned her cruise was stopping in Gibraltar, she planned a full-day tour of the island through Gibraltar Rock Tours. Although the tour couldn’t be completed, the driver still demanded payment.

Can we help her get a refund, or will this be added to the Case Dismissed file?

Scher researched the best providers of Gibraltar tours on TripAdvisor, and found that Gibraltar Rock Tours (listed on TripAdvisor as Gibraltar Rock Private Tours) is ranked sixth of the 22 tour companies. She read the reviews, contacted the company, and paid the required 50 percent deposit for a full-day tour for four people that included a visit to the ape dens and a dolphin experience.

When Scher and her family arrived in Gibraltar, a taxi driver named Francis picked up the group and started the tour. The four travelers were able to see the Great Siege Tunnels. Scher says she agreed to pay 140 pounds (approximately $172) for her group of four to take this tour.

Scher eventually learned that both the dolphin excursion and the cable car that would take them to the ape dens were closed because of high winds. They would not be able to complete their full-day tour. But when the driver completed the tour he demanded payment in full. The total came to 160 pounds (approximately $197), which they paid.

The group questioned the demand for payment but the driver said he was a contract worker and needed to be paid by them. After calling the company’s manager, Anthony, the driver assured Scher that a full refund would be issued by Anthony.

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But I bet you can see where this was going — the refund was never issued and Anthony never replied to repeated requests Scher made for the refund.

The company lists no terms and conditions or legal disclosures on its website, which should have indicated that it could be difficult to resolve any disputes resulting from the transaction. But there is always the possibility of a credit card dispute, right?

Instead of using a major credit card issued by a traditional bank, Scher paid the deposit with her PayPal credit card. She asked it to step in and refund the money to her, and PayPal agreed to investigate.

After their investigation, PayPal agreed that Scher should be refunded the full $197 she requested, but the company had withdrawn all the money in its PayPal account. This meant that PayPal wouldn’t be able to refund her money.

Had Scher used a traditional, bank-issued major credit card, the issuing bank would have been able to issue a chargeback on Gibraltar Rock Tours and refund Scher’s money, rather than waiting for the company to deposit funds back to its own account.

We don’t list contact information on our website for Gibraltar Rock Tours. Although we do list contacts for PayPal, and Sher could have asked for a courtesy credit, but given its legal agreements for both business and consumers, a refund with PayPal having no recourse to recover its money is highly unlikely.

Scher contacted us and our advocates reached out to Gibraltar Rock Tours multiple times. Scher also continued to try to contact Gibraltar Rock Tours on her own. The company never replied to Scher — or to us.

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Scher posted a review of her experience and her attempt to obtain a refund on TripAdvisor, including PayPal’s favorable ruling but inability to complete the refund. She also posted her experience to our forums.

Unfortunately, ensuring any future tour purchasers are informed of Gibraltar Rock Tours’ unwillingness to respond to a customer and to refund promised monies is all we can do in this case. Since the company has taken a vow of silence, we have to file this as a Case Dismissed.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I’m sympathetic to the OP because, almost certainly, the guide could have prechecked whether the attractions were available and could have offered the OP the choice of continuing on the truncated tour or choosing not to go. By pretending the tour was possible, the guide stole both money and time from the OP.

  • Kerr

    Was she using a PayPal branded credit card or a card linked to a PayPal account? That’s key because if it was a true credit card (MC or Visa), PayPal should reimburse her and then battle the tour company for the money. Saying there is nothing they can do because the operator emptied its PayPal account either means it wasn’t a true credit card or PayPal is dropping its responsibilities.

  • John Keahey

    Gibraltar is an island? Don’t think so.

  • MarkKelling

    Not even at high tide. Gibraltar is definitely a peninsula connected to Spain (but belonging to the UK).

  • Annie M

    I am also sympathetic to the OP and wish she had insisted on talking to the company owner herself instead of relying on the driver to translate.

    This really is a Case Dismissed story – nothing anyone else can do.

  • Barthel

    In retrospect, Scher should not have paid the driver the full amount.

  • Rebecca

    Yesterday St Maarten was a British Virgin Island. Perhaps it’s alternate geography?

  • PsyGuy

    The mistake was paying in the first place. i’d have told the driver or tour guide to kick rocks. He needs to get his money from who subcontracted for him.

  • PsyGuy

    Can we just agree that Americans aren’t the strongest in geography, and move on. I mean Rhode Island isn’t an island either, so can you really blame them for some confusion on the subject?

  • PsyGuy

    So the lesson here is to ask before commencing any tour if the tour will be completed in full.

  • MF

    It is likely that the guide was aware of the closures due to high wind. If he’s a Gibraltar resident, I’m sure he could at least guess that the attractions would likely be closed based on previous experience. Perhaps he wanted the money and just took the PAX for a ‘ride’ knowing how it would end? Call me cynical.

  • MF

    Perhaps a mistake to not ask, but one would presume that the tour company would not send a driver & not inform the PAX of the situation?

  • MF

    Sometimes it is better to just pay than get assaulted by a knuckle-dragger over a few hundred quid. The driver may have decided to kick teeth, not rocks. Not being familiar with Gibraltar’s legal code also may put the PAX at a disadvantage.

  • PsyGuy

    One driver, four people, I’ll take those odds.

  • Koholaz

    Yet another example of TripAdvisor ratings being a load of malarkey.

  • Lindabator

    until you end up in a foreign jail

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    Okay, I know that OP is the original Poster but what the heck is PAX?

  • joycexyz

    I’d hope that the positive reviews were the result of positive experiences. You don’t have a problem until you have a problem. That said, we need to be savvy about reading and interpreting reviews.

  • Kerr

    It is an abbreviation for passenger.

  • jim6555

    PAX means passenger. The abbreviation is more commonly used when discussing an airline, railroad or cruise passenger, but I guess it can also be used to describe a passenger on a tour bus.

  • Barthel

    I agree with PsyGuy.

  • Barthel

    I’m on your side.

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    That rings a bell. Thanks

  • CasaAlux

    A slight aside to the main story, but it has me wondering:

    “When Faye Scher learned her cruise was stopping in Gibraltar, she planned a full-day tour of the island through Gibraltar Rock Tours.”

    She “learned” her cruise was stopping in Gibraltar? Didn’t she know that before booking? Was it some kind of a mystery cruise where she didn’t discover the ports of call until after booking?

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