• Report:  #3584

Complaint Review: Donna Franca Tours - Boston Massachusetts

Reported By:

Donna Franca Tours
470 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, 02215 Massachusetts, U.S.A.
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Attached is a letter written to Donna Franca Tours for which we received no response.

October 1, 2000

Donna Franca Tours

470 Commonwealth Avenue

Boston, MA 02215-2795

To Whom It May Concern:

Subject: Italian Fever Tour September 16, 2000 - September 29, 2000

We are writing this letter as an addendum to the "quality control survey" handed to us by our tour director "Giacomo". We have just completed your Italian Fever Tour of Italy that was from September 16 through September 29 of this year. We called three times to Donna Franca on our trip and only spoke to a person once, which did not resolve any of our concerns. The reason for this letter is to give our brief reasons, as to why we were utterly dissatisfied and disgusted with the tour. My wife and I had a terrific time, but that was due to our planning and our free time not spent with the tour. Having had a good friend and his family recommend us to you for his great tour (the same, but with a different tour director), we had high expectations that where not even remotely met. We realize that others in the tour thought it was good, but we believe the majority did not, which we hope you will hear from as well. Those that did enjoy it may not care about the value for the dollar spent or may not realize how to evaluate it, but that is their opinion and this is ours.

Our views:

1. Tour Director Giacomo: To begin with we liked him as a person, but believe that his job performance was unsatisfactory. From the start at day one, we realized he did not know how to communicate. For the get together meeting, he never put the group together, as he started to speak to groups of people while not addressing others, there where never any introductions, and things had to be continually repeated instead of just speaking once to the group. Unfortunately things with Giacomo were to get worse. He had the horrible habit of speaking to only portions of the group at a time. In addition, there was never a set schedule, since people always were told a different thing, as to what time we were to meet or as to where we are going or how long we were staying. He only posted itineraries for at most six days on the tour, whereas other tour groups such as Globus, American Express and Perillo always had them posted. He had a horrible habit of mumbling, which made it very difficult to understand him at times in person and on the bus. He also seemed to be looking for the easy way out and did not make any effort to do anything. According to him everything was "very complicated"

2. Excursions to Sistine Chapel and Pompeii: The tour of the Sistine Chapel (which was included in the trip when our friends took the tour) was rushed and overpriced. Why does a ticket of approximately 9 US dollars cost 36 US dollars? It just does not add up. The tour was one hour, with the tour guide "Laura" rushing through the exhibits. The person on the phone from Donna Franca stated to me that we paid for transportation as well, but we took a cab ride back to the hotel for 7 US dollars!, that's 16 US dollars. I found it insulting how the Donna Franca phone rep insinuated I did not know how to price things, but I have an Engineering degree as well as an MBA in Finance. I work as a finance consultant performing international structured finance transactions for firms in the US and abroad, the numbers just did not add up. An excellent tour guide, "Pasquale", provided the tour to Pompeii. Giacomo had told us we where to have three hours there then kept changing that time to less, but for no apparent reason. Our schedule had us going to Naples for a dinner on our own after Pompeii. After the one hour tour, we wanted to go see the Amphitheater. Giacomo was extremely upset we did not want to go to his "price fix" lunch, but still wanted to explore and would not give us a time to be back. We had to run to the end of the area at Pompeii to see the beautiful ruins and then back so that we would not miss the bus. We did that in a half hour. When we arrived back, the people were still having their "disgusting" price fix lunch and we where still able to grab a bite to eat. We spent a total of 1 hour 45 minutes there! Why even go! We where rushed to Naples by 5:30 pm, nothing was open and we had all night for dinner! That was a disgrace, since there was so much to see and do at Pompeii.

3. Hotels: Out of 6 hotels we never received a view. On average there should have been about three rooms with a view, we received none, but others received a view at each hotel (to be honest, the Sheraton in Florence had no views, therefore it is actually out of 5 hotels so you should expect a view on average in 2 or 3 hotels). A new person, who had joined the tour for the last three days beginning in Lake Como, received a room next to his brother and his parents (3 rooms) on the top floor overseeing the lake! We looked at the McDonalds! (We know that that family spent lots of money at "Giacomo's" stores in Florence, which were a rip off and another disgrace! Did that have anything to do with it?) The last hotel in Venice when we called Paula at Donna Franca, and begged Giacomo for a view, he said he gave us one, but although it was waterside, it was right under the awning so there was no view, but Giacomo, made sure to tell us how he went out of the way for us! In addition, except for the first hotel in Rome (which we enjoyed greatly) we where continually being put in rooms with twin beds! Why? This problem never seemed to occur to the others. Why was this always happening? We understand the first time, but why would that problem keep occurring, we had to argue at great lengths at times to get our room changed! Shouldn't our tour director make sure he fixed this problem before handing us our room assignments, he didn't seem to verify anything.

4. Food: Maybe we had expected too much, in as such that our family has owned and operated a successful Caffe/Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, and that our friend told us that he had excellent food. The food that was prepaid for was always a disappointment and it makes us wonder where all of the money that we spent for this trip was put. The dinners on our own were excellent and inexpensive, all costing less than 35 US dollars per couple with wine, that not only had a label on the bottle, but actually could pass as wine. None of the entre's we received at our pre paid meals where even on the menu, except for maybe at Lake Como, where we had veal. Since, when is it an authentic Italian meal to serve roast beef and turkey as an entre? Again, not even on the menu. Another problem, Why were we forced to eat at rest stops on the way to Rapallo & Verona instead of eating in those cities. We wasted 45 min. at a rest stop and then were limited to an hour in each city. (friends that had taken this tour actually ate in these cities and had a full 2 hours to enjoy it.) We were given a bunch of excuses why we couldn't eat there like it was too crowed and cafs would be closed, but when we arrived everything was open and nothing was overcrowded. (again we were taking the easy way out.)

Although this vacation is over, we will not let this drop. My brother and dad were planning a trip for next year, but they will not do it with Donna Franca, in addition, any and all web sites that receive complaints will hear about this. We may not be able to recommend another tour company for Italy but we can say with truth and conviction that this tour is no way worth 3,400 per person that we paid. The profit that you must have made as well as the tour director and his "special bargains" is a disgrace and it amazes me that people are so ignorant as to keep you in business. We know our restaurant would never survive with the customer service and product you present. Why would you have a quality control form that is to be handed in to the tour director, how can it be objective, shouldn't it be a self addressed pre-paid form? Then again it does not surprise us that you would have a quality control form such as the one enclosed.

I also think it is a disgrace that after making 3 phone calls from Italy, no one from Donna Franca had the courtesy to return our phone call and alleviate our concerns, what kind of customer service is that?

Again in closing, we were extremely disappointed and hope through the Internet that we can gain some measure of retribution. Although I meant to be brief, we could still continue for a few more pages, but I would like to remember the fun times we had and forgot the disgrace of a tour and tour director your company provided.


Unsatisfied Customer

3 Updates & Rebuttals


I apologize for not posting a rebuttal sooner

#2UPDATE Employee

Fri, May 02, 2003

To whom it concern, I apologize for not posting a rebuttal sooner however I was unaware of this commentary. I have reviewed its content and have verified that yes we did indeed respond to the customer's claim and anyone interested in receiving a copy should contact me. Also I have letters and Tour Reports from other tour members who travelled on the same tour and departure date with positive comments on their tour. Best regards, Leo Locke Donna Franca Tours Boston MA Tel 617-375-9400 ext 131 Fax 617-266-1062 E Mail [email protected]


Mon, October 16, 2000


Sun, October 15, 2000

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