Depending on your activity level for your well deserved vacation on the Island of Oahu, planning activities may be part of your agenda. If you are the type of shopper who feels that customer service and integrity is a big factor? There are companies that you should definitely stay away from, in booking your tours.
The worst company, Activity Hut on Oahu, (Aloha Hawaii Tours) and not withstanding alias names of the company, but still under the same ownership. The number of complaints under the previous names were insurmountable, the name changes gave the company somewhat of a fresh start. Unfortunately, the poor customer service and complaints continue.
It starts with the company’s hiring practices. The company hires the dregs of society as independent contractors. Most of the contractors don’t get paid unless they book tours. This creates aggressive, overbearing workers with no accountability in their aggressive tactics. The company also doe’s not perform background screening on independent contractors. It may be a red flag having people of questionable character collecting your personal information. It’s risky and could result in fraud concerns.
The employees/contractors are rude and abrasive, and the company is unresponsive in taking action related to complaints about employees, using the disclaimer that the offending employee is a independent contractor.
Here is a Facebook link showing numerous complaints about the same employee, Paulo. This employee currently works for the company as a contractor.
This translates to a scapegoat tactic to distance itself from issues related to it’s employees’ behavior. Yet the company continues to keep-on employees with known inappropriate behavior.
Activity Hut on Oahu, (Aloha Hawaii Tours) is most certainly the one to avoid in booking your tour needs. It has several booths around Waikiki. The bait and switch tour packages are deceptive to it’s customers. The company advertises activity and tour discounts, but later informs you that the discount is in exchange for your time in sitting through a lengthy and questionable timeshare presentation. The timeshare branch associated with the company has changed names several times as well, and continues it’s questionable operation.
Here is just one example of the many negative online entries from customers linked to Activity Hut (Aloha Hawaii Tours).
Re: Activity Hut Vacation Preview
“My partner & I fell for the tricks, we actually went through with it to get the cheap tickets, heres how it went down for those of you who come across the same position:
1. We wanted to do the paradise cove luau, whilst everywhere else was quoting $80, a few stalls at the flea market (and also on waikiki) had advertised it for $30 per person. First warning bell – price seemed too good to be true!
2. The guy at the flea market talked all about how great the luau is, what the food is like, what seats we can get. Seemed to really know about the activities. Even threw in “free bus ride” to the luau, and called his office to make sure there were tickets available for the time we wanted. Wow this sounds like a great find!
3. We confirmed we wanted to go ahead. He starts writing up a receipt. All of a sudden, he goes through the conditions of the receipt: You need to attend a 1.5hr presentation first, You need to earn $60k + a year, You need to have a valid credit card with you.. WTF. If it wasn’t a trap why didn’t he disclose this up front? But my partner is already daydreaming about how great the Luau will be. Reluctantly we sign up, and give him a $20 deposit. (this is his commission from the presentation company for finding customers).
4. We’re told we have to go to an office building in waikiki the next day and ensure we have 2.5 hours free… I google everything about this company to be prepared (thank god for this thread!)
5. We show up at the next day to the office. Looks like the company has rented out one floor of the building. We fill in a form with our details. My partner clarifies with the receptionist that only 1.5 hrs is required. Now the hardcore/in-your-face sales process starts. Receptionist calls over a sales manager who tells us that we signed the receipt stating we are available for 2.5 hrs. My partner states we were told only 1.5hrs and we have to meet our friends – but no, the sales person is too smart for that, says we have to be there for 2.5hrs and for us to SMS our friends. He wants to see the SMS response as well to make sure we can do it… whatever, we went along with it & stayed
6. We are put in a waiting room for about 5mins, then a sales person is allocated to us. We then get taken to a big open room where other customers are going through the same process. We are told, all phones must be switched off and no toilet breaks allowed. We spend the next 15mins talking about our lives, our spending habits on holidays & so forth. We try to be nice and at the same time, uninterested
7. The sales presentation begins. A top shot sales person goes through a powerpoint presentation on a special software package/membership, we can book anywhere in the world at serviced apartments for only $500 a week! WOW! photos of France, Rome, Brisbane, Tahiti, Disneyland is splashed all over the presentation. Screenshots of the website are shown on the screen. Then the price, starts off at $9999 , then we get a special today-only offer of $7999 !! what a great deal (NOT)
8. Presentation ends. Everyone goes back to their sales person who tries to sign us up. When you say no a few times, they call over a senior manager, who is even more charming & convincing. grills you on your holiday habits, destination, how much money you will save. The questioning goes on forever. My partner isn’t tough enough to tell them we are not interested. Then, when we are firm on our decision, a final manager is called over. The price goes down, to $5000, then $4000, then $2500. Finally they see we are not interested and we are escorted out. We head downstairs to the activity hut outlet and get our cheap tickets.
9. In the end, the cost for our tickets is about $70. ($30×2 , plus tax is charged on the RRP of $160, not the discount price!!!)
10. We do the luau show later that week.
Was it worth it? For me it wasn’t worth wasting 3hrs of our time, going through that high pressure sales process during our trip. I would not do it again. Spending $8000 on “special webpage access” when they don’t even let you go on a computer to try the website out????”
Bottom line, book your vacation tours online when possible, this will secure your credit card information. Major travel agencies like Liberty Travel and online booking web sites such as Orbitz dot com, and Expedia dot com offer online discounts when booking tour packages along with hotel and airfare booking. There are great deals to be found if you decide to book your tours on-ground after your arrival on the Island. If seeking a local company to book your tours, look for companies who offer discounts with no strings attached.
Rude independant contractors, pushy sales reps, long winded sales presentations, and bait and switch tactics in using your time and the questionable discount offered, can mar your tour booking experience and vacation. This long process may leave you more irritated than entertained.
The following local tour booking companies offer online, phone or on-ground booking options. Try to book in advance whenever possible, this way you can take your time and avoid the overwhelming feeling of so many choices flooding in at once.
Roberts Hawaii, founded in 1941, is a transportation and tours local company and it is employee owned. The company has a great reputation locally. The company also provides the public transportation system on the Island of Maui, which is a highly prestigious and sought after contract.
Discover Hawaii Tours is another option for booking tours locally. It is ranked as the number one tour company on the island. With almost 3,000 reviews, and a 4.5 out of 5 rating, this company clearly considers every customer’s experience as important.
Oahu Nature Tours is a newer tour company, but appears to be up and coming. The tour choices are more geared to nature, such as hiking, waterfalls, exotic bird tours, etc.