SOUTH AFRICA: Are these outfitter issues unusual?

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports' started by JamieD, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    My wife and I went on a SA hunt in Aug 2010. We went with another couple who had gone to the same outfitter the year prior.

    At the time of our hunt in Aug 2010, the other couple had not received their trophies from 2009. There were numerous excuses (some good reasons) why they had not yet shipped and this outfitters family was such a lovely family and we had such a good time that we put aside our hesitations. We did note, however, that in preparation for our 2010 trip, we had a TERRIBLE time getting them to respond to emails. The two largest reasons they gave were poor internet service and just plain busyness. We were just so excited to finally go to Africa that we overlooked this annoyance and what we felt to be lack of respect to a degree.

    After we returned from our trip, the other couple received their trophies from 2009. They blamed the shipper for not getting them off in time but when they arrived they were in rough condition (hides) due to being exposed to the elements for too long. The tanners in the States are working on them as we speak to see how they will look once they do their work. There were also some horns missing and to make a long story short they assured us they would be shipped with our 2010 trophies.

    Fast forward to our current state. We all have arranged to hunt with this outfitter once again this year. Our tickets are already purchased. Our 2010 trophies still have not been sent and they are not keeping in communication with us regarding their status.

    Our experience with communication with them has been that since the onset of all of us working with them, we have all had problems getting them to respond to emails timely (within 3-4 days would be nice...we are waiting over a month or more at times to get an answer to even simple questions). Whether we are asking for an update on our trophies (shouldn't THEY be updating US?) or simple travel ideas, it is pulling teeth to get them to respond.

    I'm sure there are plenty of stories where the outfitter goes out of his way to please his clients before the hunt but then once they get there the clients are very disappointed in the experience (bait and switch you might say) but our experience is almost opposite.

    At this point you might be wondering why in the world we would go back with these outfitters. We and the other couple agree that while we were there, we had a wonderful experience. Their rates are also very reasonable. They went out of their way to make us comfortable...we had superb PH's...got great trophies. There were very few things we could mention that would say we had anything less than an ideal experience. When we left we felt like they were family.

    We are just wanting to know what is typical regarding communication and some of the issues brought up. Americans are known to "expect things yesterday"...we do have a very fast paced lifestyle and expect others to keep up. In our situation, however, my wife has been nearly in tears due to frustration and it has made the experience almost negative. We are concerned about whether we will see our trophies and are apprehensive about how things will go on this hunt. We contacted them last week to once again check on our trophies and they haven't responded once again. We can't imagine trying to rebook with another outfitter on this short of notice (Aug 2011) but we just want to weigh all our options.

    We would welcome any and all input from either side on this. I am not revealing the outfitter because we are not out to bad mouth anyone. We would just like some clarity and to know what is typical.
     
  2. Bushbuck

    Bushbuck AH Enthusiast

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    There is one place I go to in Africa that when using the internet I get the same results. I also love hunting there and have been there many times. I gave up on the internet a few years ago with him and just pick up the phone and call. If he is not around he always calls back within a day.

    Why dont you just give them a call?
     
  3. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    We've done that many times. He is also difficult to get a hold of by phone. He never seems to know the answers at that time and says he will get back to us, even giving us a specific time he will do so...and never does. At times it is a little difficult to understand over the phone (connection lapse and accent) so it just seems like the internet is easier.
     
  4. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Africa...are there other continents to hunt?
    "If you don't take care of your customers, someone else will".

    This one would be very easy for me....because i've been down this same road. I would highly encourage you to look elsewhere for your 2011 safari. With the economy in it's current state, i think you would be surprised how many outfitters will not only match the rate you were given, but i bet several will even beat it. If you are at all nervous about your trophy situation (which sounds like you should be), the last thing i would do is go back and spend more money with that outfitter. There are way too many great hunting operators with large gaps in their seasons this year. As for the service you received, i think you will find that high quality service, meals and attention to detail are the calling cards of good South African operators...what i'm saying is that you can get that same level of service elsewhere.

    My story was very similar and i will PM you about it. If something seems fishy....it probably is.
     
  5. Bushbuck

    Bushbuck AH Enthusiast

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    I have to agree with Tom. You didnt mention trying to call him in your first post. Some guys are away from the internet for a while when in the field. BUt if you call and he cannot answer your questions and does not get back to you, be happy you had a good trip last time and move on. There are many guys even here on this forum that will answer your questions and offer you top notch service.
     
  6. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Tom

    Great answer.

    after my 2010 trip my heads and hides were state side with in 2 month of my departure from Africa...

    james
     
  7. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    This is the problem...we realize we may be able to get a better service....but we may not. We are kind of feeling that we know preparing to get there is going to suck and it will likely be a pain after we get back to make sure all is in order. However.....we also know that we will have a great time with them while we are there. We know what to expect (though we wish it were better). If this other couple hadn't had some experience to give us we might not have gone last year- it is a difficult thing to pay the kind of money it takes to do this and then not have any idea what kind of time you will have. Like I mentioned...the quality of the trophies was exceptional. The PH's were just wonderful. Our concern is that you can't have it all...great service, reasonable rates and great trophies. You are either going to pay top dollar for that great service and great trophies or there are plenty out there who promise and don't deliver...undercutting to get you to book and then show you immature animals or save the trophies for more "valued" clients when you get there....forcing you into packages that the client isn't completely interested in....hidden fees...etc.

    We just don't know what we should expect.
     
  8. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I agree 100 percent with TOM. Customer service is the basis of any good relationship. And you have been getting the short end of the stick! It's time to move on...there are still some good opportunities to hunt in RSA. If you are not getting what you want...move on to the next operation. You are being treated like a paycheck!
     
  9. TOM

    TOM AH Elite

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    Africa...are there other continents to hunt?
    What outfit did you hunt with?
     
  10. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    I PMed you about that. Like I said, I'm not here to bad mouth anyone so my intention is not to put this outfitter's name out there. We would just like to know what to chalk up to cultural differences and what might be poor business practices. Americans CAN be too demanding after all!;)
     
  11. seattlesetters

    seattlesetters AH Senior Member

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    I have just one question: How can the quality of trophies be "exceptional" if you don't have them in your possession and your friends' trophies from the last hunt, when the finally arrived, were in poor shape?
     
  12. seattlesetters

    seattlesetters AH Senior Member

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    One other thing, and if this sounds terrible, I'm sorry, but I make my living through marketing communications: If you choose to market your product to Americans, then there are no "cultural differences." You either deliver what your market expects or you try a different market.

    There are plenty of outfitters on this site who possess integrity and can show a great experience. I'd personally try ro find one who could accommodate the dates and cancel the hunt with the one who stresses your lovely wife.
     
  13. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    Cuz I was there when I shot them!:laughing:

    What I mean is that they were exceptional when they were shot. For instance, I shot a 33" waterbuck and a 38" eland. Our group also shot 3- 24+" impala along with other species. They gave us great trophies (if we ever get them home!). It would be nice to have more than photos.
     
  14. seattlesetters

    seattlesetters AH Senior Member

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    If a tree falls in the forrest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? At this point, they aren't great trophies, just big, dead animals that somebody else possesses.
     
  15. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Jamie, this is not cultural. This outfit does not have the capacity to do the work they were hired for, obviously.
    Evidently you are happy with the hunting and hosting portion of the contract. That is not the only work they were hired for!
    If you choose to continue to reward this level of service that is your choice. It sounds like you and Courtney Cox got involved in the same type of investment scheme and are in denial about your returns. Sounds like a classic case of Cognitive dissonance to me.
    Where else in your business dealings do you accept anything other than a full job well done?
     
  16. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Jamie if these trophys from 2009 were being mounted then maybe I can see a year but for dip & pack no way, I think for your 2011 hunt you might want to stop and think (full me once shame on you full me twice shame on me) if it were me I would pay the extra couple of bucks and get a new outfit to hunt with and change your plane tickets.
     
  17. Bushbuck

    Bushbuck AH Enthusiast

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    It almost sounds like you are not looking for the opinion of others, but are looking for someone to reassure you that you are doing the right thing by staying with the outfitter that you have chosen. You need to make up your mind if you want to defend his actions and continue to stress over it all, or take some good hard advice that has been given to you from others who have been there many times, and move forward. This is supposed to be a vacation. Part of the fun of going to Africa is the anticipation for months before, the planning, dreaming, counting the days, thats why many of Us spend time here!
    Then after the hunt there should be no worries as to the shipment of your trophies. You are being robbed of the pre hunt and after hunt celebrations.
     
  18. Hartzview Hunting Safaris

    Hartzview Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Fanatic

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    Hey guys,

    It is a shame that once again a outfitter put doubt in so many people's mind's about hunting Africa. My opinion is that these people do not work with a good taxidermsit or they hunt concessions where they have not paid the land owner yet. Not that I am saying that is what happened but usually that is why there is no anwsers to your questions.... The landowner stil sits with the trophies in the salt room until the outfitter pays.

    There is no way trophies can take more than a year to get to the US, if it is pack and dip it should be no more than 2 to 3 months. That why to me it is important for my clients to meet my taxidermist and talk to him directly after the hunt so they know who they are dealing with. We always get CC'ed in every e-mail between client and taxidermist so the client always knows what's going on with his trophies.

    JamieD if you need any help locating your trophies in South Africa please send me a mail and we can work on this. My taxidermist would be more than happy to assist you as well.

    An outfitters services begin at the first e-mail and stops only when the trophy is against your wall!

    Best regards,

    Jacques
     
  19. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    As a trophy hunter I understand wanting to shoot magnificent animals for reasonable prices!!!!! But the question is...What is your animals come back in bad shape or not at all? To me, practically the whole hunt experience is ruined, the memories filled with pain and regrets.

    If you do go back to the same outfitter at least pick out a decent taxidermist, that will work to get your trophies out of Africa.
     
  20. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    I think it is time to shed some more light on the subject. The taxidermist who is dipping and packing is also our PH. He was the same one who shipped out the 2009 trophies for the other couple. @bushbuck; yes, I guess we are looking for ressurance of sorts. We have invested so much time in this already and really believe these are good people (bad business people can still be good people). There are plenty of people who burn bridges with their mouth or impulsive actions- we want to proceed with forethought. This is exactly why we are asking the good people here about our experience. We want to know what is "normal" so that we can decide at this point if we should make work of looking for another outfitter for our Aug 2011 hunt. Since we have no other experience (other than forums) we honestly did not know if we were giving up on this only to be set up with someone else who forgot to pick us up from the airport, treated my wife poorly while we were there (non hunter), pointed us to mediorcre trophies, etc. It would appear unanamously that we should expect more.
    Again @bushbuck...you hit the nail on the head. We EXACTLY feel robbed of our pre and post experience. It has turned into a part time job before and after to try to assure things go smoothly. Our PH has even told us that we worry to much (and hints we are too consumed with details). Yet this guy is hunting well more than half the year and is very busy. How can that happen and how is he getting repeat business if the whole lot has such poor business practices? (more people who want to believe in the best of people like us?) This is also why we thought maybe that is just how Africa hunts go.
    Anyway, after hearing the responses we are going to see what some other outfitter options are for us at this point. We will post that query in the appropriate forum once we find it. We truly appreciate all of your responses and input!
     

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