In March I ordered 3 tours from Orca Enterprises. Two of the tours were fine (Captain Larry's whale watching and Icefield Excursion), the 3rd was a complete rip off. Orca Enterprises represented that the 3rd tour would consist of a 6 hour dog sled ride through the woods with our own personal guide and a maximum of 3 other dog sleds in the group. They even sent me a receipt, and the description of the tour is "6hr Dog". When we actually took the tour on August 22, it consisted of a 5 hour bus ride with a bus load of other tourists to a destination where the dogs were housed, and the actual dog sled ride was a 15 minute ride around a dusty track.
I called Orca Enterprises about this yesterday which is when I got back from my Alaska vacation. They told me that the original tour operator went out of business and that my excursion was "picked up" by a replacement tour operator. They also observed that they had many complaints from other people they sold packages to from the original tour operator. But then they said that because I went on the tour, they could not refund my money.
I pointed out to the Orca Enterprises person that I didn't know we weren't going to have the dog sled ride until after the bus was already on the road and out of town, and therefore I had no choice but to go along with the ride. The fact is that I hated the bus ride and chafed over the fact that I was essentially a prisoner on this tour from hell and couldn't get off until the bus returned to Skagway from where it originated. I was also peeved to the max that I wasted our only day in Skagway when we could have been doing something a thousand times better.
The Orca Enterprises person said that since they had already remitted my payment to the tour operator, there was nothing further they could do. I told her that whether or not Orca Enterprises remitted my payment to the tour operator is irrelevant. Orca Enterprises misrepresented what the tour would consist of and should refund the payment. I also pointed out that it may very well be true that Orca Enterprises was mislead by the tour operator, but that's their problem not mine.
I told the person that I was calling to give Orca Enterprises the opportunity to do the right thing. She said that the owner would call me back that day, but I never received a call.
I've already filed a complaint with American Express who processed the payment, and I expect that I'll get a refund which in turn will get charged back to Orca Enterprises. Bottom line is that I'm very disappointed with Orca Enterprises for at least 2 reasons. First, they apparently learned sometime after I signed up for the 6 hour dog sled ride that the tour was being changed to something else, and they should have let me know in advance. Second, when I called to give them the opportunity to do the right thing, they declined to do so.
My suggestion: Don't buy any tours from Orca Enterprises other than Captain Larry's Whale Watching and Icefield Excursion. In other words, if they try to sell you any other tours, I wouldn't go for them.
I'm curious. The original tour was actually going to be 6 hours on a sled? Too long for my back and kidneys! ; ^ )
What town was this trip from? I thought Orca was only in Juneau but I could be wrong about that. Maybe Skagway? You can't drive anywhere in Juneau that would take 5 hours on a bus. The main road's only about 40 miles long as I recall.
Too bad your tour turned out to be such a nightmare.
In response to CStorm. Capt. Larry's whale watch trip is awsome. You will see whales and if you're lucky you'll see some breaching and with real luck bubble feeding. Our trip was mid-morning.
It sounds like I'm not the only sucker that was taken.
I booked through Last Frontier and when I booked it I was told that it was a 6 hours dog sled tour also.
I had a funny feeling when we were driving for about an hour with about 10 people. I asked someone if they were also on the dog sledding tour and they said no.
When we stopped I asked the driver where the dog sledding was and he said it was after the lunch stop.
I thought at first I may of been mistaken about the tour. It may of said a 6 hour tour with dog sledding but when I got back to the foo-foo, I double checked and it said that it was a 6 hour dog sledding.
At first, I was going to go into Zone 5 and rip some *$$ but I didn't. The bus ride was good. The driver we had was very good and I learned a lot. He also hiked the Chilkoot Trail so I got some first hand information about hiking. Emerald Lake is overrated (IMO) but overall it was a nice trip. Perhaps, not worth the extra money, I paid but......
Orca Enterprises is only a booking agent. I can see your point but I believe that Orca Enterprises may of also been "taken". I hope Carol will call you so you can get this resolved. I wouldn't blackball Orca but your advise of only booking their tours maybe valid. I have booked other tours with Orca and will be booking with them next year but I will make sure to find out exactly what I'm booking. <G>
The tour was out of Skagway even though Orca is in Juneau. It's been 2 days now since I called, and they haven't called me back to discuss. As I said, I'm very disappointed with Orca. It is absolutely clear that I was sold a bill of gods, and even if Orca was taken, they should have done the right thing by refunding the money to me and then themselves taking on the burden of chasing down the company that they were acting as agent for. Shame on Orca.
To others reading this: as I said previously, I wouldn't let this prevent you from taking the whale watching tour (which was excellent) nor the Icefield Excursion (which was amazing and off the charts!). I'm just saying that you shouldn't use them as an agent for any other tours because they've made it clear that even though they're happy to collect your fees and I'm sure get a commission out of it, they certainly won't do the stand up thing if the tour goes bad. Shame on them.
I post over and over, BOOK direct, your tours in Alaska, extremely simple to do and you get direct contact information. I know of NO 6 hour dog sledding tours in Alaska unless you are there in the winter. So your information at the start wasn't accurate.