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SOTC - the worst experience
17 days ago 904 Views

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SOTC Review

If you make the payment for advance deposit of Rs. 20, 000, you are stuck. Either you have to forget your money, or follow what they ask you to do! If you do not do what they say, they do not care, do not even try to respond to you or pick up the phone!

We had the worst experience with any travel agent in our life with SOTC. After we agreed to the final amount for their “Far East” group tour in Nov 2019, we made the initial deposit in Indian Rupees, Rs 60, 000 for 3 people. But for making the remaining payment they refused to accept in Indian Rupees as we have US Passport. They very clearly mentioned in their emails about the term “USD payment is to be made in equivalent INR by Demand Draft / Cheque as per exchange rate is given by us.” but now they declined, because they already had our deposit money. They were like “either pay in dollars the balance amount(calculated their way, by adding some 2% tax or surcharge or whatever!) or forget about your deposit amount”! They were not ready to even accept in SGD, which they mentioned in their invoice! Finally, as we already had all other bookings and vacation planning at work, I had to make the payment in US dollars!

No need to say about the quality and standard of the hotel as many have already mentioned and we were also one of them. On the very first day in Kuala Lumpur hotel, we saw cockroaches moving around in our room. We were not scared of cockroaches but were scared of taking them with us at home! With the help of the tour operator, we could get the room changed.

SOTC does not operate the tours by themselves in many places. Instead, they assign it to the local agents. In Bali, Indonesia, we were given a guide/driver who did not know any language except his local language. Can you imagine how can you pass three days with such a guide? It was very difficult to ask him to do simple things like “stop the car”!

While flying from Singapore to Bali, they did not include lunch. As they booked our tickets, the online website of airline Garuda did not allow us to buy it on our own. The flight carries meals of only orders received in advance. So there was no way to eat anything during lunchtime, not by paying money out of your pocket even!

The worst and very scary experience was in Bangkok. After we landed in Bangkok, we went to Pattaya in a van hired by the local agent directly from the airport, as per the itinerary. There were mosquitoes inside the van. The driver was so rude that we could not even ask him to get the mosquito spray out of our checked-in luggage(they do not allow it in carrying on luggage). He stopped at a petrol pump where there were not many people to fill the fuel. My young daughter requested him to open the trunk but he bluntly refused to open it. IN ADDITION, WHEN MY DAUGHTER WAS TRYING TO GET IN THE VAN, HE DROVE THE VAN VERY FAST, NOT TO LET HER GET IN! WE ALL WERE VERY SCARED AND I HAD TO SHOUT AT HIM TO STOP THE VAN IMMEDIATELY. In a lonely gas station where it was dark and not so many people and not having any means of communication in an unknown country, this was a very scary experience. I complained to SOTC about this. They did make a call to the local guide to find out what happened and consoled me but do not know if they took any further action to stop this type of incidences.

The next day, we went to see the show “Alcazar” in Pattaya as included in our itinerary. Although the show was very nice, it was a joke! They had booked “temporary folding chairs” for us to sit on! We took photographs of it as evidence.

After two days in Pattaya, we started in a van to return back to Bangkok. We reached at 12:15 pm at the IBIS hotel in Bangkok. The van driver told us to return back in 15 mins(he was given a deadline of 12:30 pm by his manager) during which, we were supposed to check in our rooms, leave luggage in our room, eat lunch at a restaurant which was two blocks away! The restaurant was under construction with dead cockroaches on the floor. The food was not ready at all. Finally, we dropped the idea of taking lunch and went back to the van for sightseeing. The SOTC guide was nice and when he knew this, he handed over us 1800 bahts(Thailand currency) for three meals we missed.

In short, I would strongly advise trying any other travel agency or book on your own. Do not try to go on a group tour as they will assign you to local travels keeping their margin in their pocket which will leave you with very cheap facilities and service.

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