Zambian Tour Operator allegedely swindles Italian tourist

Mukambi safari lodgeAn Italian Tourist claims that he has been swindled by a  Zambian Travel Agency.

Roberto Tartaglia says a tour operator called ‘the Travel Centre’ said to be based at Findeco House house in Lusaka swindled him out of  U.S. $ 6468.00.

The money, he says, was meant for the tour operator to arrange his tour to Zambia but that the tour operator did nothing but pocket the money. The tour operator failed to book accommodation and local flights but sent him fake vouchers.

In various emails to the Watchdog, Tartaglia says he has even cancled his trip to Zambia and wants his money back.

Documents made available to the Watchdog show that on 25 February 2009, Tartaglia sent $1980 to the Travel centre bank account held at Stanbic Arcades branch. On 17 June 2009 he sent $4488 to the same account.

Documents also show that lodges which the Travel centre claimed to have made arrangements for Tartaglia disputing the claims and even warning the tour operator to stop using their names.

When contacted on his mobile phone, one of the purpoted directors of the travel agency Clifford Zulu promised to meet the Watchdog fror an interview. When he was contacted first on Thursday, he claimed that he was out of Lusaka and will be available Friday morning. On Friday when he was phoned on several occasions he gave excuses and failed to show up.

Various officails talked to at ministry of Tourism and Tourism board confirmed that the matter has been reported to them.

No one could however state exactly what action has been taken. One official revealed that the matter has been forwarded to the police. The officials say this case is an e3mbrassment and can negatively affect the ‘visit Zambia Camapign”

Tartaglia complained that after the payment were made and time for departure was approaching, he started noticing suspicious behaviour from the directors of the comnpany.

“Its a year that I have contact with Mr. Zulu and this year, in March, we agreed the program and the cost to be paid for the holiday. All seemed ok. Until the beginning of August, everything seemed to adjust, we regularly send e-mail and I made two wire transfers, for the TO Zambiatravelcentre, as per contract. In mid-August I can not find their site linked, I write to Mr. Zulu, for days without response. Then contact the offices Zambiatourism for news on Zambiatravelcentre. After a few days Zulu began to write the mail. But I started to have doubts about our reservation. E-mail address to all Lodges and Proflight (for domestic flights) to ask for confirmation about our reservation and find that TO Zambiatravelcentre not booked anything for us. In subsequent e-mail and SMS messages to my phone, Mr. Zulu confirmed the opposite, says it is okay, we will meet 1 October in Lusaka Airport and will give me all the vouchers, but now is not the truth. He also sent for e.mail false voucher confirming our service, all false, from lodges only negative responses,” he said to the Watchdog.

Tartaglia said he found the Travel centre link on the website of the Zambia Tourism Board.

“After my reporting the incident, the offices of Zambiatourism decide to delete from their site Zambiatravelcentre TO.” he said.

The sequence of events appears to have been as followys:

On 13 March 2009, Travel Center sent the following email to Tartaglia:

Final Travel arrangements AND Confirmation of a Safari Holiday for Roberto Tartaglia’s Party x 3 Adults.

Day 1.  Oct 1.     Meet and Greet at Lusaka International airport and  upon check out you connect on your on ward flight to Livingstone on Zambezi airlines or Proflight (exact timings will be advise in due course) and upon arrival in Livingstone, we transfer from the airport & you check into the Zambezi sun hotel on b/b basis. After bath and rest, you tour the Victoria Falls late in the afternoon AND COMPLIMENTARY EXSCURSIONS FOR 3 PERSONS “HELICOPTER FLIP OF 15 MINUTES” ON THE VICTORIA FALLS. (In 1 twin and 1 single room respectively.) Website www.suniternational.com/zambia
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 2.  Oct 2.Early Morning woke up and pick up at 06:00 hours for an early morning game drive in the in the mosi oa tunya N.park.  Return to the lodge in time for late breakfast. Later afternoon do an elephant back safaris and join for a sundowerner cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. Return to the lodge for your Dinner and overnight.
————————————————————————————————————-
Day 3. Oct 3.    Early morning departure form Livingstone’s Zambezi Sun hotel for chobe day trip in Botswana   and this includes: your pick up, lunch, boat trip, game drive and upon completion return to Zambezi Sun Hotel late in the evening.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 4. Oct 4.    Depart Livingstone for Chete Island on Lake Kariba and this is one of world’s biggest   man made lake. On arrival at the main land, transfer by boat to Chete Island and enjoy evening game drive. Over night on full board basis- all meals and activities with drinks on safari and your accommodation will be into 1 Triple.   website is www.cheteisland.com
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 5. Oct 5.    Early morning drive with a boat cruise on the Island and return to the lodge in time for brunch. Afternoon rest (siesta) and prepare for yet another afternoon/ activity with a cruise. Return to the lodge in time for Dinner, drinks and overnight.
————————————————————————————————————-

Day 6.  Oct 6.After morning activity and breakfast prepare for departure to Kafue N. Park and arrive at Mukambi safari lodge. Upon arrival freshener up and enjoy yr afternoon game drive/night game drive. 2 night’s accommodation stay and your accommodation will be into 1 family triple chalet. (There is day 6/ 7 and check out day 8.) www.mukambi.com
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 8. Oct 8.    Depart Mukambi and overnight at Forest Inn lodge into 1 triple with Dinner and breakfast basis. (We’ve decided to do this to reduce the no of driving hours and to reduce the journey for the trip up north.
————————————————————————————————————
Day 9. Oct 9.    Early morning Departure from Forest Inn after breakfast for Kapishya Hot springs in the northern Part of Zambia with lunch at forest inn en route.  Late afternoon arrival at Kapishya, fresher up –Dinner and overnight on full board.        At kapishya hot springs wit a full day tour – swim in the hot springs, visit  the manshya river- shiwa house and return to kapishya Dinner , own Bar –drinks and overnight.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 10.Oct 10.Depart Kapishya Hot springs for Buffalo Camp in North Luangwa. 3 night’s accommodation on full board basis with all meals, game walks & some drives with drinks and bar. WE CAN GUARANTEE GAME HERE IN FULL AND TOTALITY. With all morning game walks/return for brunch- afternoon siesta and late afternoon walk. With drive back to the lodge. Please note that you do lots of walks here as game drives are very limited.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 11. Oct 11. At Buffalo in the North Camp with all your game drives and walks with all the food, tea & coffee and drinks. www.shiwasafaris.com and you can Kapishya hot Springs on the same page
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 13. Oct 13.Depart North Luangwa on the flight from there via Mfuwe and pick at Mfuwe airport to Kafunta River lodge with an afternoon into a night game drive and return to the lodge in time for Dinner and overnight.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 14. Oct 14.Still at Kafunta River lodge in the south Luangwa n.park enjoying your early morning breakfast and return to the lodge for brunch (meals) and afternoon rest and prepare for an afternoon/ night game drive and return to the lodge for Dinner and overnight.  www.luangwa.com  this is the site for Kafunta lodge.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 15. Oct 15.Early morning woke up and enjoy your early morning breeze game drive / walks with teas and coffees with snacks on board. Return to the lodge for bunch (meals) and prepare for departure for Lusaka and upon arrival in Lusaka-Pick up from the airport to Chita lodge and overnight there on b/b basis in 1 twin and 1 single.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 16. Oct 16.    FREE DAY IN LUSAKA.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Day 17. Oct 17.    Pick up from the lodge to the airport for your early flight on BA
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The package includes: As this is stated above: all meals where stated, all teas & coffees, game drives & all tours, all transfers where applicable and all flights where mentioned. This amazing trip will still cost you USD 3080, 00 per person all as above.  With a complimentary night in last on 16th October, 2009. Extra will be Bar and Park entry fees. While everything else as stated above are included.  TOTAL USD 9,240.00

On September 9, 2009, Mukambi Safari Lodge, one of the lodges which was purported to have been booked wrote to Travel Centre as follows:

“Dear Clifford,

Despite the fact that you still have not contacted us for a reservation you have issued the attached confirmation to Mr Tartaglia for our services.  I am holding a reservation for him based on his direct enquiry so please find attached invoice for your information.  We require payment by Friday 11 Sept 2009 in order to confirm this reservation at which stage I will respond positively to Mr Tartaglia.  If not, I will cancel the reservation and notify Mr Tartaglia accordingly.”

On September 24, Mukambi again wrote to Travel centre as follows:

“Please note I have canceled your booking.  Mr Tartaglia is no longer traveling to Zambia and he has booked for 2 friends only which has been done via another agent.  I would check with Mr Tartaglia before you pay Zambezi Sun as I know he has already told you he is canceling the full tour with you.
“Please accept this as an official notification that you may no longer put either Mukambi Safari Lodge or Busanga Plains Camp on any of your client’s itinerary from here on forward.  We will not take reservations from you.  I will use this email as confirmation of our disassociation with you to any client who approaches us directly claiming they will be staying with us.  Your misrepresentation of Mukambi Safari Lodge, and Zambian Tourism as a whole in my opinion, has resulted in hours of wasted communications and many dollars lost trying to find a positive solution for international travelers who have looked to us to help them as a result of your unethical business practices.”


Share this post