'Tashkent Tour From Delhi' Fraud

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I have been writing this blog since the year 2010 and all my trips in India and abroad during all these years have been self-arranged. I booked air tickets myself, booked my own hotels and did all sightseeing on my own. There never was a need to buy a tour package from a travel agent. I have been a happy traveller. But all that had to change this time in January 2017. I decided to go see a different destination that required a different approach to travel. I decided on Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This Central Asian country, which was a part of the erstwhile USSR, does not issue visa to individuals from India unless some local (Uzbek) travel agent is involved. In other words, the only option for most individuals wanting to travel to Uzbekistan is to buy a package tour from a travel agent. Of course there are some less than legal workarounds available to this visa issue and are used by the individuals who are in the know, but for my first trip I did not see the wisdom of taking such extra risks. As such, I ended up buying a tour package to Tashkent from a travel agent in Delhi - McTrip Holidays and thus became the victim of this tour fraud. This article is also a review of McTrip Holidays Delhi and iTravel Uzbekistan. Keep reading...

Lal Bahadur Shastri Manument Tashkent

Other Names of McTrip Holidays

McTrip Holidays is also operating under these names - www.mctripholidays.co.in, tashkentlive.com, silkroutepackages.in

Their Address

318 Vardhaman Sunder Plaza, sector 12, Plot no 12 Dwarka, New Delhi 110075

McTrip Holidays' Uzbek Partner

McTrip Holidays' partner in Uzbekistan who arranged for the visa for this group tour and actually operated the tour was an entity called "iTravel". There is a website itravel.com.uz which may or may not be the same iTravel. The tour guides in Tashkent for our group were two individuals - a guy named Hassan and a lady named Dil or Diliya.

The Price

McTrip Holidays quoted ex-Delhi price of INR 34,000 per person for a 4N / 5D tour on twin sharing basis. With the single room supplement and the add-on day tour of Samarkand, the total price paid by me was INR 45,520.

The Fraud Begins

A few hours before the departure time, I received an email from McTrip Holidays that contained the hotel voucher. The name of the hotel mentioned in the voucher was Le Grande Plaza. That was the beginning of the fraud. The two hotels that McTrip Holidays had mentioned in the tour itinerary were "Ramada" and "City Palace". The representatives of McTrip Holidays had repeated assured me that my hotel in Tashkent for this tour would be either Ramada or City Palace. I had studied online reviews of these two hotels and both seemed ok. After getting the actual hotel voucher, I did a quick study on the net and found that Le Grande Plaza, that was previously called "Tata Hotel" but currently was nothing but a lodge used by fraud tour operators to scam their customers. I called McTrip Holidays and spoke to the same lady "Ms. Vanshika" who had made promises of giving me either City Palace or Ramada. She denied having made any such promise and handed over to phone to another person - Mr. George. He started by saying that Ms. Vanshika had made a mistake. Then he said that the cost of the trip for them had gone up and they had to change the hotel. This was after I had made full payment for the tour and my flight to Tashkent was just a few hours away. It was obvious that I had given my money to a bunch of two-faced people.

The Horror at Hotel Le Grande Plaza Tashkent

1. The tour itinerary promised a welcome drink at the hotel. There was nothing.

2. The room they gave me had really stained carpet, a room heater with a broken stand, a locker that never worked, a semi-clean bathroom with a permanently stained bath-tub and a rusted over-head shower. and a stained sink with taps that always leaked. On top of that, the sink was blocked and The overhead shower was so badly stained that the water coming out of it went in all directions except for where it was supposed to go. No shower cap was provided. In the room there was a single 500ml water bottle whereas McTrip Holidays had promised one litre of bottled water a day. There was a tea making kettle and two tea bags & sugar but no milk creamer/milk powder. During my entire stay of four nights, the dirty carpet was never cleaned and the bed sheets / pillow covers were never changed. They just made the bed everyday and left another water bottle in the room. In the next room that was given to another member of our tour group, the over-head shower did not work at all. All our complaints to the hotel staff and the iTravel people there did not work. They did not agree to change the poor quality rooms and instead made excuses that the agent in India had given them very little money and they could not provide anything better.

The Micro Tour Bus

The bus used by iTravel for local sightseeing was really small and could barely fit the entire group. All the fold-able emergency seats in the bus were used that made getting in and out of the bus a hassle every time.

The Grumpy Tour Guide

One of the two tour guides - Mr. Hassan - had all sorts of problems. He appeared ill-tempered at all times and was not at all happy doing his job. Perhaps his own personal problems or the business policy of iTravel resulted in our sightseeing getting heavily curtailed and what we got to see was only a part of what was promised.

The Missing Sightseeing Time

The itinerary provided by McTrip Holidays promised two city tours - one Half Day tour and one Full Day tour. Instead what we got were two so-called half-day tours with one tour lasting for two hours and the other lasting one-and-a-half hours.

The Missing Attractions

(i) Amir Timur Square - Never shown, instead Mr. Hassan said that the square was very close to our hotel and we could go there on our own.

(ii) Lal Bahadur Shastri Museum - Totally fraudulent claim - never shown, not even from outside.

(iii) Tashkent Broadway - Totally fraudulent claim - never shown

(iv) People's Friendship Square - Mentioned by Mr. Hassan while the bus was on the move. Never stopped there.

(v) Roman Orthodox Church - Totally fraudulent claim - never shown

(vi) Romanov Castle - Totally fraudulent claim - never shown. After I complained about it, Mr. Hassan pointed me in the direction of the castle and told me to go there and see it myself.

(vii) “Boulevard” and “Lions” Street in Samarkand - Never shown

(viii) The tour itinerary promised free time to explore Charvak Artificial Reservoir & Skiing, Ice skating, Snow Bikes, Horse riding, Local Kebabs with Vodka at our own cost. This again was a totally fraudulent claim because the iTravel people never took us to the reservoir. Instead the hotel where we had lunch had a view of the reservoir and that was the end of it.

The Local Cuisine in Samarkand Fraud

The add-on tour of Samarkand promised local Uzbek food during lunch. Instead, just Indian Moong Dal and rice were served. The restaurant where lunch was organised was good - Karim Bek - only we could never enter the restaurant's dining area. They had set up a few tables in the corridor from where the restaurant staff would pass through on the way to the kitchen. Half the people in the group did not even get rice because apparently iTravel people had not ordered enough quantity. It was total disaster.

Poor Quality Food

br/> ITravel people took us to a restaurant called "Taj" or something like that once for lunch and once for dinner. The food served in this restaurant was very poor in preparation. In the entire tour, the Indian food menu was a mixed veg curry, rajma, paneer with gravy, rice, and very hard chapatis. The menu never changed except for one day when they did not bother to serve curry or rajma. There was just rice, yellow dal, and potatoes. The tour guide Mr. Hassan promised one lunch in Raaj Kapoor restaurant but that never happened. This restaurant was inside our hotel but we never dined there.

The So-called "World Class" Dance Show

The tour itinerary promised a "world-class" dance show at dinner every night with unlimited drinks. The restaurants ran out of drinks quickly and even the dance show was curtailed. Mr, Hassan said that there was some restriction on the dance show timings but we could see that in another restaurant in the same building a dance show was continuing till late at night. The DJ whom Mr. Hassan brought on our last night did not know anything about music.

The Main Attraction Never Included

This tour never included "Chorsu Bazaar", a must see attraction of Tashkent. But it was never even promised. By the way, the cheapest place for shopping for dry-fruits and nuts in Uzbekistan is Chorsu Bazaar. Not surprising that it was not a part of our tour. Some of us went there on our own.

Will I Visit Uzbekistan Again?

Actually the country has a lot to offer to a foreign visitor but the best way to do that will be to go directly and avoid all agents. Now that is a problem if the visitor happens to be an Indian citizen. I have decided to stay away from Uzbekistan for the time being and instead try a trip to Kyrgyzstan first. There again I will need to go through an agent but this time I will try to choose my agent more carefully. Also read: Is Indian Tourists' Tashkent Dream Over?





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I left my day job in October 2013 and became a full time blogger. I love travel and hence a travel blog was the obvious place to start from. The result is desiyatri.com. I currently live in Bengaluru, India. - Narinder Singh.

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