Why I wouldn’t go to Peru with The Adventurists

mototaxi

I should add that the below is my opinion, feel free to skip to the end to see various links and comments that give more information for you to make your own mind up.

So my friends and I saw an opportunity to drive something that can only be classed as one of the most unsuitable vehicles on the planet through the challenging terrain of Peru. What was better was that this could be done for charity and it looked like a genuine adventure for us. Even better there’s a company that was organising the trip, called The Adventurists, basically they look after the paperwork and vehicles leaving you to pick your own route between the start and finish of the ‘moto taxi junket

The MotoTaxi Junket

So we went away and did some research, the vehicle it’s self is a moto taxi / tuk tuk. Basically it’s an underpowered knock off motorcycle converted into a trike with a shabby roof on top. We read up on a lot of issues people had had with them, mostly mechanical and due to poor construction but also down to user error and lack of understanding/ training – people not even having used a motorbike before wondering why their chain breaks or why they break spokes in a wheel.

This sounds like an horrific idea to knowingly rely on something that is most certainly going to break down, but being a motorcycle mechanic to me this didn’t seem like any kind of issue that couldn’t be handled without some basic preparation. Next we read up on some horrific injuries and incidents and decided first aid classes would be the way to go along with learning the language along with emergency paperwork, funds and tools to help us avoid these kind of issues. We were getting prepared…

The Adventurists

It should be noted that we had this figured within 3 months of booking with The Adventurists, though you would have thought we’d have had this kind of information from them by now on what we need to do for the mototaxi junket, at least a ‘thanks for giving us your money’ or a ‘here’s a check list’ etc… but nothing arrived (and it never did). So we were left to figure all this out, what did our ‘entry fee’ buy except their lunch? We hunted around on the site and finally found a very poor PDF file called the ‘team handbook’ which promised on one page a cost breakdown but gave nothing, along with very little useful information. What were we paying them for?

This started to spook us somewhat, here are these guys ‘organising’ our trip, vehicles/ mototaxis and paperwork but had failed to organise anything except taking our hard earnt money and leaving anyone on this trip to fend for themselves under the guise of ‘it’s an adventure’ rather than a lack of their organisational/ operative skills. The lack of organisational skills really hit home when we attended one of their afternoon tea’s which considering there was a free brewery involved (Hendriks Gin), they couldn’t organise a piss up and the event soon descended into a big unorganised amateur mess leaving us disappointed. Also turns out that most of the other attendees seemed to be rather richer than us and dare I say it, upper class, it must of seemed like a jolly good hoot to spend mummy and daddys money – from the ones I talked to or overheard, not one of them had any idea of what they were getting in to and the lack of support they would get. I guess for them, they wouldn’t miss the money they paid if they decided later they didn’t want to take part.

The MotoTaxi Junket is an “Adventure”

Did we really want to trust even our own paperwork to The Adventurists let alone our lives? I think not. During this time one of the events already running couldn’t finish on schedule and the routes had to be altered, it was really hitting home that these guys had taken our cash and given nothing in return, not even an email or event information and then left the participants at the mercy of their lack of organisation claiming that this makes it an ‘adventure’. It makes it a nightmare but tally ho, the entry fee is only the average lunch bill for most of them anyway.

At least when you hire a car you get some form of paperwork, we didn’t even get that, just a Google Checkout receipt on email for a cost paid for the mototaxi junket and nothing else. If it was billed as a rally event etc… then yes, you’d expect to do all the planning yourself but you’d still be provided some basic information as well as legislation etc… – you’d also have a pretty big team to manage everything, but as a small team of 2 or 3 people you rely on The Adventurists to organise things a bit more and do some of that work for you.

So it was time to chase these guys up, we’d had nothing, they clearly can’t organise anything so what were we paying them for except our own funeral in a flaming roadside wreck in Peru? What was the fee paying for, if it was passports, visa paperwork, medical insurance, vehicle rental etc… it was leaving it a bit late to sort out and it blatantly wasn’t going to get done by them. If we were doing all the work then why pay them? I can sort out a similar trip, granted not the mototaxi junket, to Peru and not only get the transport but I can get my flights and accommodation sorted out into the bargain as well by the operator with not much extra to pay. Now that’s organisation!

Getting a Refund from the Adventurists

So first contact after the initial 6 months, we enquired about refunds, just stating we needed to pull out and what could we do as to our statutory rights as consumers, nothing nasty. Nothing, a month passes. Chase up again. Nothing. We call a few times. Nothing. Ok, now time to threaten to put it officially in writing with legal advice. Now we get a response, however, they seem upset as to why we’re threatening them and say there’s no chance of a refund since they state there’s the ‘standard’ 28 day refund policy. Standard for who? when you lease a car or plan a trip or event, the refund policy normally works by notice of cancellation prior to the event. They had 6 months notice! Further more, we’d booked via credit card which, in the UK, grants us under section 75 of the consumer credit act financial protection if goods have been paid for and nothing received which seems very apt, since we’d paid and received nothing. So we threatened with taking this to our bank, and lo and behold something could be worked out, relying on another team falling for the con and we recieving our entry fee from this team.

So why couldn’t we get this cash ourselves from The Adventurists, why should we as the consumer wait for another team. If you were getting a refund for services not delivered by a builder, you would be irate that you’d have to wait for them to charge another customer before they could refund you so why is this OK in this context? “We’re only a small company” is the excuse given, which is pathetic. But still we wait for the cash to be nice and give them a chance.

This goes on for months, chasing, chasing, chasing and hearing nothing back. Only recieving the occasional vague reponse and being fobbed off. Time to threaten again and finally we get the refund. So why couldn’t they have done this to start with, seems like their financial as well as organisational skills are flawed. Yes, they maybe a small company, but that doesn’t mean we have to put up with poor customer relations, product and a lack of services. It took 6 months in total for a refund. 6 months!!

Have an Adventure with anyone but The Adventurists

All in all I am very happy to be not using their services, I think I dodged a bullet there. I will admit that perhaps for other people involved this wasn’t a concern for them and I’ll be denounced as being over cautious or being against the ‘spirit’ of an adventure. But hey, I’m weird like that, liking to have a plan for traversing a country I’ve never been to before and getting something for the money I’ve paid in good faith. I’d like to think that I’m one of very few people that had any issue with The Adventurists and perhaps this was a one off experience for me, however the 6 month back and forth and poor communication along with snide remarks from them just made me want to publish my thoughts on the experience for others to learn from.

If anyone is considering booking with them follow these tips:

  • Make sure to read all the information up front and ask the questions before giving your cash away
  • Make the booking on a credit card as you’ll have some level of protection
  • If you receive nothing after paying, contact them in the first instance asking for refund and then go direct to your bank – do not bother to wait for them, just get your bank to do it on your behalf

I would really have liked to have done a diary or write up of the mototaxi junket and taken part in the event but instead I’ll do something similar via another operator – take a look at riding motorbikes through Peru, plenty of operators, they may not have as flashy a site as The Adventurists but I’ll bet you have a far better time.

To all the teams entering, good luck and I hope it’s worth it.

Update: 20/12/11

In the comments below, Richard was kind enough to explain the breakdown of the fees paid – something I never got from The Adventurists but it’s worth reading to help you make up your mind in case you wanted to know. Also it’s good to know that I am probably one of the very few people who had any issue with them and that it may just be down to the company growing in size.

Useful links

Just for the purposes of additional information to follow I’d like to list below various blogs and sites detailing experiences good or bad with the Adventurists so that you can make your own mind up. Feel free to comment and post links and I’ll add more as and when I find them, but I’m specifically looking for sites that talk about dealing with The Adventurists rather than the just the adventure itself, actually, scratch that, I’ll chuck up links to anything that’s worth a read if it helps anyone else out.

Mongol Rally

Good diary/ write up of the Mongol Rally experience:  http://team-mongolian-job.blogspot.com/

“A blog to uncover the truth about how the Adventurists are run. Teams are unhappy, Visa service was a joke, borders didn’t let cars through. What do we get for our entry fee?” http://adventuristswatch.blogspot.com/

“Mongol Rally and the Visa Machine (thank God for The Adventurists)” http://thesocialmediasyndicate.com/visa-machine-mongol-rally

Mototaxi Junket

Detailed write up of the Mototaxi Junket: http://www.trackpete.net/2009/11/motoventure-day-25-to-la-paz-end-of.html

Rickshaw Run

Diary of the Trans India Rickshaw run: http://bircho.co.uk/Trans-India-Rickshaw-challenge.php

11 Comments

  • £750 (split between a team of 2 or 3) is the entry fee, that gets you a website with a blog, location tracking and it keeps you in touch with fellow adventurists as well as giving you a lot of useful information about the rally. Also it sorts out the organisation behind the teams, the two partys at either side of the rally, the mototaxis and much more, its worth that. From my experience of The Adventurists they have given me all the information I need to plan my adventure across Peru.
    The whole of the Adventurists “theme” or persona is like the old posh adventurers of around the Victorian era, its all just a laugh, its not some organised snobbery. Also they make it clear that this is your adventure, you wont be handed it on a platter.
    They provide a skeleton “adventure” all you have to do is fly there and you will be able to join in. Admittedly you would probably get hep A or Rabies if you didn’t bother organising the jabs and then die in hospital cause you didn’t bother organising travel insurance but you could still do it.

    I think you might have missed the point of The mototaxi rally, but I can appreciate that some people don’t think the money is worth it, fair enough, the website is clear about what you will get when paying the money.

    I just wanted to say that I have only experienced good things from signing up for this adventure rather than organising it myself (and all this is without mentioning the amazing amount of money they raise for charity)

    Just wanted to make my opinion known.

    • That’s kind of my point. We didn’t get anything, where as you at least seem to have got a lot more for your cash. Of course I don’t expect them to organise my jabs or wipe my bum for me but did you get the team entry pack, confirmation etc…? I got none of that. Nothing, other than a google checkout receipt.

      Also when chasing for information etc… their contact/ response times are abmisal considering you paid them, you get nothing back (or at least in my case) and this was simple stuff, like where’s the team handbook, do you have any more specs on the mototaxi, other than the brief info etc… it wasn’t like we were asking them to book our flights.

      In terms of information, the website is rather thin on that, granted there’s some probable start and end location (which in prior rallies had to be moved according to other blogs) but that’s it. So I pay £750 and I get a blog? wowee. A whole blog!!! sweet, because I can’t get that anywhere else? My location tracking? Holy shit, it’s not like I’m going to go off to Peru on this without my own GPS, maps etc… Not such a good deal is it? What I really get is crappy car hire from the start to the end and that’s it. I do my own paperwork, visas, medical, route, flights, accommodation, mechanics, first aid training, CBT etc… so I get some teams starting at the same time a blog and some location tracking as well as a mototaxi hire? For £750 that’s a bit of a rip off when I could save that and hire the car myself and do the logistics. Especially considering when you get fines etc… for not being able to return it on time or if you break it, which it will break down and previous rallies have been hideously delayed (which is fine I guess if you don’t have a job or family to get back to).

      Also their refunds policy is a wrong as well, 28 days after purchase for something you book up to a year in advance? I don’t think so.

      It did sound like a laugh, and my advice is to go and do the same thing but with a company that will at least give you the basic advice you need and I’ll be looking to do that myself – I don’t need the Adventurists blog, location tracking, mototaxi or help with giving to charity (remember as well as the £750 you need minimum sponshorship for their chosen charity).

      I commend you for taking up the adventure, I really do, and I seriously hope you don’t have any hassles out there with their lack of organisation which has plagued previous entrants – they had a free brewery and couldn’t organise a piss up! (I saw it).

      Please let me know how it goes.

  • The blog post says a lot more about you and the type of holiday you want rather than about the adventurists. I have completed two of their adventures and am about to embark on a third. The whole premise of the Adventurists is that they are “fighting to make the world less boring”. Specifically they are outwardly railing against having everything handed to you on a plate, health and safety regulations, checklists, spoon-feeding. The challenge of the adventure is precisely because you don’t get any help!
    This is clearly not for everyone, which is why you get about five screens worth of disclaimers before you sign up – all of which are trying to filter out customers like yourself – the ones who expect an itemised breakdown of where their money goes, a checklist of everything to do, a map with directions and guarantees of safety and enjoyment.
    The adventurists, from my perspective are trying to achieve the direct opposite of what you are upset about not getting! I sympathise with it taking a while to sort your refund, as you clearly skipped all the parts when they warned you about what you are signing up for. Rather like going into a shop, buying a pineapple and then complaining that it isn’t a briefcase – frustrating for hte retailer.
    That’s all I’ve got to say – other than I heartily recommend the Adventurists for people with a true adventurous spirit. the costs cover a multitude of things that basically make it possible for proper people with jobs to get out to a far flown corner of the planet and have some great fun, without having to spend weeks doing paperwork on the ground to make it possible.
    Cheers
    Rich

    • Of course my blog post says a lot more about me than the adventurists, that’s generally the thing about a point of view/ opinion. :)

      I should make it clear that when I signed up I didn’t skip through screens, some just weren’t available to me as they revamped their site. And from what I saw, I understood all the risks etc.. I’m not some package holiday numpty, so it wasn’t like I wanted them to sort out my flights etc… So I do resent that remark somewhat, I’m clearly no retard, I just expected that what they said they would send me they would actually send me (maybe that is retarded?). Read the bit where I said about first aid training, map reading, mechanics, learning the language etc… which does gives you an idea of the level of my preparations and the fact it’s not a first time thing for me. So clearly ‘customers like yourself’ I take it that you mean people who do a lot of research, courses and preparation expecting no support – it’s not like I thought I was booking on Thomas Cook etc…

      Like the prior commenter, I don’t think you fully read the post (and in your case, my subsequent comment), where I’m not complaining about the obvious stuff being ‘spoonfed’ to me. Or the fact that I was under some mis-guided notion of buying a pineapple thinking it’s a briefcase (to borrow your analogy). It’s more a case of a total lack of their communication and following up on their promises. If they had said from the start that I’d get absolutely nothing in return, that’s fine and I needed to sort everything out myself that would have been different.

      I’m curious though as to what ‘paperwork’ you actually got that you couldn’t have done yourself? I had no idea of what as happening at any point so I didn’t know what I needed to do and what I didn’t, maybe that’s part of it, but when going to a foreign country for a rally with no defined start/ finish dates, route etc… I’d at least like to know if I have get my visa sorted, my medical papers any legal requirements/ road usage, border controls, mechanical overview of the vehicle (stoichometric ratio compensation for the altitude etc…) meaning could I tune the vehicle, could I get spare parts (such as spokes in advance), liabilities in medical insurance.

      And like I said, this was only my experience and that I was sure I was a minority, so it’s good to see that you’re doing your third one and that it’s working out well for you and if this post does educate ‘customers like yourself’ in any way, then it’s achieved it’s objective.

      If you are able to reply back, could you do so in more detail being objective/ constructive and help me understand more rather than trying to justify the Adventurists themselves – I’d like as much balanced, non-subjective, information on this page as possible for people to make an unbiased decision rather than unfairly skew it. It’s always easier to complain than compliment so I appreciate you taking the time to comment against me.

      Good luck with the third attempt and well done on the first two – did you keep the online blog of the events?

  • Ah, no worries I managed to find your site: http://www.adventure.bircho.co.uk/ so I’ll give that a read.

  • Thanks for replying. I appreciate I was a little abrupt, and that not everyone will have have the same positive experience that I have done – but I was just so surprised to see negative feedback about a company who I admire and respect so much.

    The main value for money that they deliver is to sourced the vehicles and (much more importantly) cut through the red tape that enables adventurers to just collect them and go, without having to spend days and weeks queuing up for local dignitaries to sign off registration paperwork.

    There is also normally some political negotiation needed too, to ensure such events are not only allowed, but ultimately supported and celebrated.

    Given the scale of the operation, the costs are always likely to be relatively high per customer, something that would be different I am sure if a new tranche of adventurers headed off every fortnight – but the nature of the mototaxi junket is that obviously it is rather unique, thus less people do it, thus unit cost is high.

    I met up with one of the staff the other week for a few beers, and he, like me, was an adventurer on one of the first adventurist events. He specifically stated a desire to maintain the good communications, receptiveness and informality that obviously come under threat when a company grows. This is something that will hopefully prevent too many potential customers coming away with the feeling you have done.

    So, I hope that provides some balance. As someone who has had truly unforgettable and life defining experiences with the adventurists, I can’t help but feel that your blog post would have been entitled “why I would definitely do the mototaxi junket with the adventurists”, if only you’d stuck with it and gone!

    My previous blogs, since you ask, can be seen at the following addresses: (the original domains and hosting have lapsed, so there’s less info and images than previously, but you get the idea.
    http://team-mongolian-job.blogspot.com/
    http://bircho.co.uk/Trans-India-Rickshaw-challenge.php

    All the best.

    • That’s brilliant information, thank you very much. Just a shame that I could never get that info from them about what the fee actually paid for. So my assumption that they’re basically renting you the vehicles, hassle free, wasn’t far wrong.

      Like I say I think I was sure that I must be one of the few that had some trouble with them and as you say that might be the case of the company growing.

      Thanks again for taking the time to get back to me, and I’ll add the links on to the page to your sites, just so everyone can check out as many places to make up their own minds.

  • Larry,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. We’ve had a terrible time dealing with the Adventurists. Seems like when everything is going well they’re all smiles and pats on the back but as soon as something goes wrong they’re nowhere to be seen.

    We had recently signed up for the ASEAN run and, I won’t go into the details because it makes me pretty upset, but they failed to provide us with even a rickshaw! We spent about 4 days waiting for it to turn up at the start line, after most of the other teams had left.

    When it finally arrived it was in no way working. Not at all. We ended up having to pay to transport a broken tuktuk all the way from thailand to sumatra where we were told they’d be able to fix it. In Sumatra we had to pay the mechanic ourselves to try to try to fix it. He couldn’t; It was completely beyond fixing. We we forced to just abandon the race after having never actually gotten started. We wern’t the only ones either. There were another 2 teams whose tuktuks never worked.

    So, we’re back home now and collectively about $5,000 out of pocket for an adventure which we never had. We had a response from the Adventurists about a month ago saying they would ‘look into it’ and since then there’s been absolutely nothing despite numerous emails from myslef.

    I expect that’s probably the end of that then.

    Incredibly disappointed by the whole experience. Couldn’t possibly recommend anyone to use the Adventurists.

  • I’m going to see if I can create some sort of interview with The Adventurists to get a response for both the good and the bad stuff.

  • I totally agree with you Larry that the adventurists are a bunch of scheisters, that’s coming from someone who has had a successful adventure with them and then was ripped off on the second attempt. I am still owed £1095 or thereabouts and they also fobbed me off with the 28 day thing. I’m currently chasing it up but the whole thing has really ruined what great memories I had of doing the Rickshaw Run last year. That adventure was basically as you described it, paying over a grand for the hire of a rickshaw with a pitifully organised party at either end of the experience. The experience itself was amazing and still one of the best things I’ve done but the company are awful to deal with and seriously up their own a**es. They use silly analogies like the briefcase/pineapple thing and for that reason I’m sure the guy called Rich who posted works for them. The whole thing about ‘this is not a package holiday’ is compeltely stupid, why would anyone ever book to bomb it around Peru on a hybrid motorbike thing when actually they wanted to book a package holiday? It’s just a pointlessly pathetic comparison from a braindead easily led moron who doesn’t realise that there is something in between the two. I too love adventure and the successful Rickshaw Run was worth the money for the actual experience but in terms of where the money went, god knows. The adventurists didn’t deserve all that money, they must be making some serious profit as all it costs f all to make twee little faux victorian themed remarks.
    The second adventure was to be the ASEAN RR that Andy above went on, I’m glad I pulled out and feel very sorry for Andy for what happened to him. We had a lot of problems with our team and ended up asking for a refund saying we could no longer do it, we were told 28 days had passed, what a joke. I’m determined to get my money back and won’t let it go. I’m not against the idea behind the adventure and I certainly don’t want to book a package holiday but as a company, they are woeful and lacking in any respect for their customers, despite their pretentious fake informality and ‘jokey’ jibes and ‘jibbers’.

    Underneath the victorian colonial hat is a a company that hasn’t got the balance right between making money and having a good reputation. They are seriously deluded and really rate themselves highly. After my experience with them it has only inspired me to set up my own similar organistaion but one that’s run the right way and doesn’t pat itself on the back so much and laugh at it’s own jokes, just one that oragnises things properly and doesn’t rip people off.

    Tally ho…

    • I would be very tempted to help set up such a company, if you have a business plan

      I’m going to put all these questions to the Adventurists to get their response and what they’re going to do about these issues. Also for anyone else reading it’ll give more balance and maybe if they see their reputation going down the pan then they may start acting more appropiately.

Join the Discussion

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>