I was the organiser for a small group heading to Taupo for the weekend so we could trek the Tongariro crossing. To be on the safe side we elected to book a bus to take us and drop us off, but from past experience we elected to find a company that would collect us when we arrived at the base.
We selected Alpine HOT Bus as they informed us that if we text from the hut they would be at the base to Collect us. Multiple conversations before bookings and it was all sorted. We were rung the day before our trek 20th April, and confirmed numbers and drop off and collection requirements. Again informed that if we text from hut they would be there to collect us.
Morning of the 21st April we were waiting outside the house at 5.15am. We were finally collected at 5.50am after we had made phone calls, understood the driver was not even aware we were to be collected.
During the drive to the crossing I was very close to informing the driver to pull over and one of us would drive due to the fact the driver was texting, talking on the mobile, weaving across the road as they were reading documentation.
We put this down to a bad morning and heading out. Had an amazing walk and due to fitness knew we would be out by 1pm. We text from the last hut to say we were there and the text back said at 11.08am “Okay will let the driver know” expectation at this stage was that the driver would be there to collect us as agreed when we arrived at the base car park at 12.30pm.
After numerous text and phone calls we were finally told at 1.39pm that the driver would be there at 3.15pm. We kept in contact over this time with most calls being hang ups. We were finally collected at 3.45pm with no acknowledgement of care. The owner “Gus” came and took over from the original driver who made no acknowledgement to us. Gus when driving, talked on the mobile along with as some very dangerous passing moves. On arriving back to our destination I asked why there had been so much problem where I was informed.
1. “It was all my fault”
2. “We only pick up at 3.30pm”
3. Your group size was smaller so we were not coming out”
4. “Why did you not ring me direct”, how could I when I did not have his number
5. “You only talked with my office staff”
6. “What can you do about it any way” (when talking about reporting the very shoddy service)
Whereupon he then turned around, walked back to the driver’s door and drove away.
We had had the most exhilarating day on the crossing with cold 100km winds, rain and fantastic company, only to have the day marred by exceptionally bad customer service and no care. After sitting around for 3 hours we were stiff and cold and disappointed with that part of the day. There was no care of their customers, either with the drop off or collection or even the drive to and from. A very poor example and I feel strongly that this company needs to be monitored and/or discipline. We were well prepared for the trip, but there was no check and very much a “well you dumb enough to do the crossing you can look after yourself and we may come and pick you up after”
We love coming to Taupo but after this experience we decided to head home rather than stay the extra two days over Easter.