To whom it may concern,
Plainly speaking, I am very dissatisfied with my don Quijote experience. My girlfriend Bonnie and I looked forward to this trip for months only to be frustrated with our very poor experience. Don Quijote did not meet our expectations! We did not have the “times of our lives.” Our don Quijote academic advisor did not provide clear guidance on how to select a language program that best fit each of our needs. They did not provide enough information about their homestay selection to allow us to make an informed decision. And they knowingly sold us a ridiculously priced airport pick up option that is nothing short of criminal.
Below are the details of each issue.
Issues with the Language Courses Purchased
• I will concede that I misunderstood some of the details regarding the course offerings we purchased. Thankfully, the local don Quijote school director had the decency to inform me of the issue on the first day.
• Specifically, I did not understand that Super Intensive 30 meant 30 hours of instruction. I thought I had purchase 20 hours of ‘advanced’ language instruction. The local director caught this error right away and explained the math. Because there were only four school days during the week of our stay (due to the November 1st holiday), both Bonnie and I would have had to average 7 ½ hours of instruction per day for four days to complete 30 hours of instruction. Not only is this not practical for any language learner, but the school simply was not able to accommodate such a schedule. This error should have been caught by Don Quijote as they are experts in their course of instruction and language learning best practice. Obviously, had we understood the course options, we would not have chosen Super Intensive 30 course. Clearly, the don Quijote academic advisor should have caught this error right away and recommended an alternative course, as the local director did.
• To make things worse, I purchased 5 hours of additional private instruction, which would have totaled my daily hours of instruction to 8 ½. How is it possible that my don Quijote academic advisor did not realize this wasn’t a problem? Again, the local director realized the issue right away while my don Quijote academic advisor failed me miserably. I attended a one-hour follow-on class after the 4-hour group class on the first day. However, it was not a one-on-one, customized class just for me. It was simply an extension of the group class format, attended by three students and with no real structure or agenda. Because the local don Quijote school was unable to fulfill the private class as described in your brochure, I elected not to attend the remaining classes as it did not meet the course description objectives nor my expectations.
• Bottom line, my academic advisor gave me no advice!
Issues with the Home Stay Arrangement
• The most egregious issue is regarding our homestay arrangement. The address provided by don Quijote was incorrect. It is the address of the host’s sister. To be clear, it is not the address of the homestay hosts and not the location where Bonnie and I lodged and expected to be. We stayed at a different location, not the “central residential neighborhood” as described in the homestay description and it was located twice as far from the school as communicated. Don Quijote and our hosts put us in a very awkward, worrisome and quite frankly, un-safe situation. A very unsafe situation! Bonnie and I simply did not know where we were, our address, how to travel to the school in the morning, etc., nor could we tell anyone where we were. This is a totally unethical and dangerous “bait and switch” practice! This is a horrible way to treat a customer, an unethical business practice if not illegal, and one that should never be condoned!
• To make things worse, our hosts did not provide Bonnie and I the correct address until the morning of our third day in Oaxaca, even though we asked them multiple times! During the first two days we were not able to return to the property on our own accord because we did not know the address of our homestay. We had no choice but to rely on our hosts to pick us up after school. It ruined our Monday evening because instead of eating dinner with our fellow students, we waited for our hosts in a heavy rain for over an hour to be picked up. The school had closed its doors, so we waited outside under cover of a nearby building in the rain. We were soaking wet and did not eat dinner that night nor breakfast the next morning!
• During our wait in the rain it became apparent our hosts were not familiar with the exact location of the school. How is that possible? We saw our host drive by the front (and only) entrance to the school three or four times without looking or stopping before finally picking us up.
• It was only on our third day that we had the correct address needed to travel around the city on foot and taxi.
Issues with the Homestay itself
• Again, the location of the actual house was twice as far as what was communicated by don Quijote. Instead of an easy 15-minute walk, it was a difficult and dangerous 30-minute walk: difficult because the property is located on an extremely steep hill and dangerous because the traffic on the street leading from the hosts’ house is very heavy with narrow and obstructed sidewalks.
• There are no nice stores, restaurants or bars near the homestay. While our fellow students spoke of 5-minute walks to pleasant cafes and restaurants, Bonnie and I walked at least 30 minutes before arriving at one.
• We did not have WIFI at our homestay until late afternoon Wednesday, halfway through our entire week stay.
• The price of the room, given the location and amenities is super overpriced, as compared to the lodgings of our fellow students.
o The bed, linen, pillows were all very uncomfortable and of poor quality.
o There was no couch, not a single comfortable chair to sit. Only picnic-style benches and stackable metal chairs with no cushions.
o There was no refrigerator for cold drinks or perishable food.
o The host gave us a coffee maker on our second day but only instant coffee.
o There was a gas stove, but it did not work. There was no microwave, no way to cook or reheat food.
o On the first night, the host had to send her husband out to buy us each a 1-liter bottle of water because there were bugs inside the 5-gallon water container they intended for us to use.
• The noise in the neighborhood was incessant. Dogs barked and fireworks boomed all night long, every single night. This is not an exaggeration.
• Don Quijote gave us insufficient details regarding the correct address, quality, condition and amenities of the property for Bonnie and me to make an informed decision. Had we received this information, as should be any traveler’s expectation, we would have never accepted this arrangement.
Issue with the Pick-up Service
• We expected a professional pickup service. Your communication said, “One of our drivers will be waiting for you with a don Quijote sign bearing your name to be easily spotted.” We were quite surprised to see the host family at the airport with a paper sign waiting to pick us up. We realize now that we should not have had to pay extra for the pickup service.
• The extra charge for the pickup service was exorbitant, $70 US dollars. We subsequently learned that a taxi ride from the airport to the hosts’ home is only $6 dollars US. For that price we expected a professional pickup service that we never received. Instead we were picked up by the hosts in an uncomfortable car with no seat belts, no air conditioner, no anything. This is a total rip-off, a cheat, and a positively shameful business practice for which we demand reparation!
To be clear, I have documented and can show evidence of all that I’ve said above. If don Quijote cares even a little about the safety of their clients, or at least their own reputation, they will meet refund what monies I have requested in a separate e-mail. I await your response.