Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The NEW TRIP ADVISOR SCAM, by savvy tourist crooks, traveling around the world, cheap as they can, collecting REFUNDS, if they complain and threaten loud enough. The problem is growing larger year by year.


IN MY OPINION. The life laughs of a Third World woman from Belize.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
I operated a successful Backpackers Hotel business for a dozen years up until I decided that it was no longer fun when the "Trip Advisor threatening type" started showing up. These are the types of tourists that depend on refunds to continue their travels since they really don't want to go home, get a real job again or simply have found out that if you threaten that you will write up bad reviews about the establishment, your chances of a refund is generally good.

A Trip Advisor threat now-a-days is used like a gun pointed at your head!

As of late, I am no longer calm & polite to some of my guests & adopted a ZERO tolerance for bullshit a few years ago. Trip Advisor particular type of threat or any other for that matter, but this is the common one used. In the end, the minute they would threaten to write negative stuff, I would tell them quickly where they could shove their Trip Advisor complaints and sometimes...for good measure.....I would add spice to the complaint they are definitely going to write now...by screaming and yelling at them or throwing them out of my hotel cold turkey - so that their remarks can maybe at least be colorful.

After the first decade of the customer always being right attitude, something snapped in me when I realized how awful, threatening, insulting and in your face some tourists can be. I immediately started to show them the same hospitality.

The second decade of my business found me getting angry at the first sign of a complaint from anyone. At this point, I would just be plain rude and offer them a snide remark, whether their complaint was legit or not. I had become bored of complaints - because of all the non-legit ones that are just plain bogus. I clumped them all into one mental blocked file.
I would tell them to put their complaints into the suggestion box and point to the garbage can at my feet.
Slowly it dawned on me that I had to get out of the business I was in, I couldn't put up with another ignorant tourist another day, just anticipating that thought made it difficult to get out of bed and I lost the zest to deal with them. I'm not out of Tourism all-together, just "retreating to reload" like Sara Palin says.

In my mind, to survive as business owner without allowing these trifiling tourists to drive me insane, to do the best I can, I had to learn to cherish the good tourists who truly understood the hard work you have put into trying to make their stay as pleasant for them, those who offered kind words and praise, & to ignore the bad guests who would come into a pleasant environment and soon ruin the day, the trip, the vacation, not just for themselves by all their bitching, but for everyone else who was having a good time until they showed up!

From my view, for most tourists, they really don't want to be on vacation with this kind of WHINE, rather some wine & cheese on the dock over sunset, prefering if the complainer would just go bury her head in the sand like an ostrich.

Sometimes the complaints are do dumb, about the most insignificant, trifle or insanely pathetic problem they created for a refund that when I roll my eyes back into the socket so hard after hearing it, I risk going blind.

This type of tourist is mainly a backpacker who is travelling for a year or more and is running low on money or has a low monthly budget but wants to do all the fun things that cost money, & everybody else is doing, thus getting creative & learning how to scheme and scam their way into getting "REFUNDS" or free trips and hotel stays.

In the end, I ran the hotel with with a complete indifferent - or - angry attitude towards ANY negativity from tourists. In some instances, I stopped a hair short of wanting to ring a neck or two. Those who were lucky heard my potty mouth curse the biggest of bad words at the top of my lungs simultaneously throwing the left overs of their suitcase and possessions out the gate. The others that stayed nevertheless, had a good time. I'm mad, I'm rabid and I'm opinionated but I could also be the best hostess you ever had...it really depends on the travellers attitude towards their hosts.

There are good and bad business owners & staff, exactly as there are good and bad tourists!

When is their going to be a website "TOURIST ADVISOR" where business owners can warn or post a negative comment about a scheming or conniving tourist willing to use Trip Advisor threats to continue their crimes and be abusive.

I would love to be able to warn my business friends up the Mayan Riviera Coast about a potentially horrible, thieving tourist coming their way.

ATTN: Cozumel Dive Shops
Elizabeth McDonald just left Caye Caulker and is going your way, planning to dive with you - don't take her out!! When she gets back from the trip she will ruin your day, ruin your other divers day by camping at your shop complaining non-stop, she will demand a refund while screaming that she will write you up negatively on Trip Advisor because that soda you offered her did not have the right amount of ice which for example- left her dehydrated all day or some CRAP like that, and unable to enjoy her dive, and therefore you will owe her a full refund of her dive trip!
SPARE yourself the grief & agony buddy!

So Frenchies Diving had such day yesterday with such a tourist as I just described.

Scenario: Divers all head out to the Blue Hole, a deep dive site. 130 ft is the depth you have to go to see the stalagtites and stalagmites in the Blue Hole otherwise you stare at a wall and the dark blue Abyss.

In other words, in a dive briefing, you are told that because of the depth, it is a short dive - 1o minutes and you are to try and follow the Dive Masters and diver's down in the first 3 minutes. IF you cannot equalize after 3 minutes, you should abandon the deep dive and stay closer to the surface with your other Dive Master there to assist you in just such an event (which by the way happens often - divers not being able to equalize I mean) Since there is no time for the others to wait around the deep burning precious air waiting until you can equalize, the other divers must continue the dive without you. This is just the rules of this diving game and the rules are for the safety of ALL the divers.

So little Ms. Bitchy couldn't equalize and had to abort her dive. Jose, one of the best DiveMasters at Frenchies Diving with consistently good reviews, took her back to the boat safely, and now she is willing to tarnish his reputation on Trip Advisor due to NO FAULT of his own and in fact, did the right thing not forceing her to go down and burst an ear drum or worse. The other Dive Master's continued to lead the rest of divers down to 130 ft. but by now, safely on the boat, Ms. Bitchy is a raving Bitch! Boo Hoo Hoo....she didn't get to go all the way down in the Blue Hole and now it's the Dive Master's fault! It's Frenchies Diving fault! In fact, it's probably the whole Universe's fault! BooHooHo she bitches for the rest of the day!

PLOOP! Ms. Bitchy's boyfriend aborts his dive on his own accord and follows them back to the surface & boat. He chose to do so, perhaps out of worry for her, but he chose to do so and abandon his dive, she was in safe hands.

The rest of the day went well for all others on board!

Ms. Bitchy did her other two dives just fine in the sparkling crystal clear waters of Belize,
- watched the spectacular colorful wonders of the underwater life of the second largest Barrier Reef in the world.

-She ate a wonderful home-made Belizean lunch, prepared for the divers with all the Belizean spices blended in to perfection.

The weather was awesome and one of the most beautiful days of the year.

-Her and her boyfriend exhorbitant Reserve Park Entrance Fee was paid at the Half Moon Caye Island where they stopped for lunch which is included in their dive price.

-They enjoyed the remote island of Lighthouse Reef, stopped for lunch break took a walk around the pristine isle and saw the rare Booby Birds nesting.

- The best part, Frenchies Diving is going to pay the $2000 fuel bill for the long haul out there so you can have a good day island hopping the outer cayes & diving.

FASTFORWARD - Back at the Dive Shop. The all day dive trip is over and now they have returned to the Dive Shop. Ms. Bitchy and her boyfriend begin to demand a full refund of their dive trip day because she wanted to dive the Blue Hole dive in particular, since she could not equalize past 5 ft. in the Blue Hole (no one's fault but her own) and the divers continued the dive without her, SHE WANTS A REFUND since her trip was ruined!


OH! Her boyfriend wants a refund too because he willingly abandoned the dive himself, so he didn't see the stalagtites or stalagmites either!

Staff: "We only offer refunds if our equipment is faulty or we cancel due to bad weather or some other fault of our own but not because you couldn't equalize, you got sunburned or seasick or the waves scare you and they are bigger than you hae ever seen etc.... that is the chance you take when you sign up to dive, we complied with our end of the bargain and all the other divers had a wonderful time as the are attesting to right now."

Frenchies Diving Shop kept their position of No Refund for asanine demands, as they should. They are in the right and incurred a lot of expense to have these two on board. If Frenchies Diving wants to get petty or technical, she did dive the Blue Hole, she was down in it up to 5ft to 15 ft submerged. The rest is up to her skills as a diver, she is certified.

So they camped out at the Dive Shop and bitched and moaned FOR HOURS to other potential dives who came to book a trip, to the ones on board; to all the staff, to whoever would listen.

Frenchies Diving staff remained patient in harboring this abuse at it's doorstep.

So they would not leave until their demands were met and they made sure to insult all the "Idiot Locals" around, at least half a dozen of them and so forth it went on into the late until AquaBoy came home for a half hour because he said he did not know what to do with these people and they had become so annoying to everyone on purpose, he couldn't even stand being around his own place of business. After a half hour at home AquaBoy goes back to the Dive Shop and rings me.

Ring!...Ring..! Ring..! Aquaboy: "They are still here and they are still bitching! I've just told them to go tell the Police at the Station since everyone else here has heard it non-stop.

Oh wait!....I think I finally got thru to them, I can see them walking down the dock now. Peace at last!"

The story doesn't end there. They really went to the Police Station to complain.

Ring..! Ring....! Ring....!

AQUABOY: "I see the tourists coming back up the street with a Police, this is going to be a long afternoon, I might be home later than planned!"

So the police come to the Shop and tell AquaBoy the tourists are complaining about being abandoned in the Blue Hole on their dive and want a refund. AquaBoy explains to the Police that "abandon" means to him that they were left there accidentally or intentionally - this was never the case. He then has to explain to the Police that they were at no time "abandoned" since a Dive Master had made sure she went back to the surface safely and was in the boat waiting for the other divers to surface. He also tells them that he delivered to the tourists what he offered, a Dive Day Trip to the Blue Hole and surrounding areas, everything else went according to plan, all other customers are more than satisfied with the trip and only the woman who couldn't equalize has a problem with the trip....well...and now her boyfriend too as he has joined the fight.

The Policeman listens confused. Then he is helpful, serious, negotiator, bounded by law to try and make peace....

POLICE: If you wont give her a refund, she wants you to take them for FREE tomorrow so she can do her dive in the Blue Hole as she desires.

AQUABOY: So what happens if she can't equalize tomorrow again...do I have to take her out every single day until she can equalize......who is going to pay the high park fees, the lunch, the gasoline for their part of the trip....r u kidding me....no way - out of the question!

Also Mr. Officer, can you kindly escort these people away from here before I really do something strange like offer them a FREE DIVE - OFF-MY-DOCK!!!!
And so they left.


I´m 73 years old now, but my grown children and grandchildren are in the tourist business. The above story is an old one. 40 years ago, it was the TRAVELLERS CHEQUE SCAM. Tourists going around the world on the cheap, would pay for their hotel and meals, barrier reef scuba dives with travellers cheques and sometimes change them for cash. When they arrived in the next country to Belize, either Mexico, or Guatemala, they would report their TRAVELLERS CHEQUES stolen and get refunds. By the time our travellers cheques entered the banking system and went to settlement, it would be anywhere from 30 days to 60 days later and the travellers cheque companies would not pay off their travellers cheques and our bank in turn deducted it from our account. We eventually learned to refuse to honor or cash travellers cheques.
This is my daughter´s generation and the latest scam fits the times and the internet. TRAVEL ADVISOR and threat of a bad report on TRAVEL ADVISOR is used to demand a REFUND on some pretext of bad service by tourist operators, and you can trace the modus operendi down the coast of Belize, where the scam is done on San Pedro, Caye Caulker, inland hotels and Placentia. They find a fault, and then make such a public nuisance about it, the unsophisticated tourist operator, will sometimes refund their cash, to enable them to continue travelling around the world.
Probably be a good idea to take names, nationalities and report them on TRIP ADVISOR warning people down the tourist routes, that the scam artists are coming with their way with their refund racket.

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