SOUTH AFRICA: Are these outfitter issues unusual?

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

  1. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Most definitely tell your outfitter to drop the trophies off at a dip and pack place of business. If he or she balks at all, tell them you feel more comfortable with this arrangement.

    As far as the cummunication problems...I think the outfitter doesn't match your personality 100 percent. You like them, like their hunting grounds, but wish they would communicate better....there is a personality difference that will never be resolved.

    The experiences you have had in RSA are not normal and I know very few people that would put up with bad service.
     
  2. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    JamieD, the first outfitter I hunted with in RSA in a great guy, his wife is charming, and they have treated my wife and myself as part of the family.

    He comes to our hunting exhibition in Madrid, Spain, every year, I visit his stand, and have dinner with him. Yes, I really like the guy.

    However, I will not hunt with him again, as I have found another outfitter who gives me a better hunting experience.

    Sometimes you have to move on, and look for something different.
     
  3. TerryR

    TerryR AH Veteran

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    My experience with 3 different out fitters, two in Botswana and one in Zim, is different than yours. Any question that I had was answered within two days, usually the next day. I had the taxidermy work done in Botswana and that did take a little time, but it was done well.
    I would venture a guess that their lack of response is atypical for the industry. Taxidermy work generally seems to take 12-18 months.
    If you enjoy hunting with them enough to put up with the wait for responses to your emails, go ahead and stick with them, you have enough experience with them to know what you are buying. If it bothers you there are many others who can offer you a wonderful hunt and better service.
     
  4. CT Safaris

    CT Safaris AH Enthusiast

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    JamieD,

    Being a South African Outfitter myself I was hesitant to post on this thread for various reasons but I am going to do so at the risk of sounding a.) critical about fellow Outfitters and b.) that I want to "come in from the side" and try get some business.

    Having said this, I can share my view from an Outfitter's perspective:

    Firstly - for the most part - South African (note not "African") Outfitters enjoy the luxury of having fairly reliable internet access around the country and in this day and age most of us have the ability to access the internet quite regularly - even if that means "making a plan" to get internet access. E.g. I rely on a cell phone signal to log onto the internet (have no alternatives) but the cell signal on our ranch is terrible and the only way I can get onto the web is by taking my laptop out to a specific spot out in the garden where I have signal. Sometimes I get signal - sometimes I don't and if I do not I either drive up the mountain where I have signal or I drive into town but somehow or another I DO get to read my emails daily when I am not hunting in other countries / remote areas (without email access).

    If an Outfitter has a website or email address he should have access to (and read) his emails or at the very least have someone to do that for him - PERIOD. I know an Outfitter who once mentioned to me that his clients should be prepared to wait for his responses to emails because he doesn't know how to use a computer and he has to dictate emails to his wife when he has time. Well guess what? That same Outfitter returned from the conventions this year complaining "how dead" the market was and about the fact that he only sold two PG hunts...

    As for delays with regards to trophy shipment - sometimes things happen that are beyond our control... But the least one can do is to keep clients updated on a.) the reasons for the delays and b.) what is being done to correct this. Providing vague answers or promising to get back to someone and never doing so does not contribute towards good relationships in any business.

    My 2 cents worth.
     
  5. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Chris, I appreciate you wading in with the apparent risk for misunderstanding.

    Sometimes we, with constant internet access everywhere and anywhere, forget we are fortunate. Hence some of JamieD's uncertainty.

    I just lost out on a hunting opportunity because of the limitations of information access. The PH let me know, as soon as he was able, and also let me know that he would not be available for a period of time. I lost out, but at least I was warned as you say, I was "given the reasons for the delay".

    It sounds like you have to make a significant effort to get connected at all.
    It is a tool and the power of the tool is certainly apparent and you appreciate that and make the effort.
    Those who do not learn to use it or refuse to adapt will be left behind.
     
  6. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    After just over a month without our outfitter contacting us, he now says that the reason our 2010 trophies have not yet been shipped is that the wildebeest & eland horns are still containing moisture. He says this is due to the excessive moisture in RSA this past year. This is the first he has told us that this was or could be an issue. We have long given up on this outfitter at this point but just would like to know if this was yet another lie/misrepresentation based on what other outfitters have been able to accomplish this year. I ask this more for my hunting partner who is not willing to give up on this outfitter than for myself.

    After all we've been through with this outfitter coupled with the misrepresentations we have seen blatantly on SOME outfitters' sites or when contacting them in an attempt to find a new outfitter (in particular some Zim outfitters claiming to have no association with Mugabe and then having 3 other sources tell me they do or some claiming to have good specific trophies but then other sources saying that is not the case for their area), it is very difficult to not be jaded about hunting internationally. I know there are plenty of great outfitters out there but to weed through the half-truths many claim in order to get business it just really takes the fun out of the experience.

    Whatever happened to the Golden Rule????
     
  7. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    JamieD, I feel your frustration, I think if you have the time and can cancel or move your airplane reservations....do it...if it gets you to where you want to go. I admit, I've done it...it's not cheap but it's better than having more things go wrong.

    Mark Young on here, has a relationship with a great outfitter in Mozambique that has cape buffalo and sable...and plains game....looks like a awesome operation. Mike70560 on AH, has hunted with them and had a great time, Mokore Safaris . Even the last leopard hunt in Mozambique looks pretty interesting with Nhenda Safaris.
    As far as the half-truths, that's a part of international hunting. :(
     
  8. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    JamieD

    You are gaining experience. A bunch of though full answers are provided. There are many PH'S that use AH and will do you a great job.

    Reading your responses i am able to see that you are detail orientated. E-mail your last PH and give him a time period to reply and if he has not then pick up the phone and call him.

    The good news is that there is still time to change your plans for this year. Start sending some e mails to PH's that use this forum.

    If you are going to sit and cry over spilled milk, then tuck you tail between your legs and stay home. On the other hand you can take the initiative and change how this year will turn out. However, you have to do it now.

    Or in 6 to 12 months we will be hearing the same sob story from you.
     
  9. KMG Hunting Safaris

    KMG Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Elite

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    First of all James, I would have to say that you have hit the nail on the head!
    JamieD, the regular users on here will point you in the right direction. They know exactly who the regular outfitters on here are, might have even hunted with them. So, my advise would be, listen to the locals here, and I gaurentee you that you will have a great time, without all the baggage.

    Best Regards
    Marius Goosen
     
  10. Frederik

    Frederik AH Enthusiast

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    JamieD,

    May I ask what upsets you the most the fact that the trophies are taking too long or the communication or both ?

    The issue of moisture on the trophies only means that the horns were recently being bolied to prepare for dip and pack some dip and pack companies can do it in 90 days but most take around 6-9 months some companies specialize in dip and pack only and other are taxidemist who also do dip and pack which take a bit longer usually.

    The easiest way for you to go forward in my opinion is to voice your concern to the outfitter and tell him upfront this is not working for you as a result of the slow work on the trophies and comms. If you are ignored then obviously your business is not needed or means too much hassles for them.

    Even though we hunt we try and keep up with comms as best as we can even if it means a quick reply via email sorry busy hunting will get back to you asap. As some areas in our country have very limited reception some even have certain hours which work and not. But if the outfitter was hunting from his own property and lives on it there is no reason why is comms should be slow. He has to keep comms for his own personal use after all.

    But yes try phoning and you could even buy credit on skype and phone cheaper that way it might cost a bit but that might saves you thousands in worries.
     
  11. michaelhh375

    michaelhh375 AH Veteran

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    James. You put it very simple and straight, I agree 100%.


     
  12. Spiral Horn Safaris

    Spiral Horn Safaris AH Fanatic

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    JamieD what an unfortunate story, I feel your pain since a very close friend and client of mine went trough the same ordeal with another Outfit.

    I think next time around hunt with someone who owns the land he hunts on it might make all the difference in the world? (This is not to say that there are not extremely good outfits out there who don't own land but as a general rule in South Africa that is the best advice I can give you).

    Good luck with all the challenges and you have my total sympathy.

    Best Regards
    Louis van Bergen
     
  13. MarvelAfrica

    MarvelAfrica AH Senior Member

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    Gentlemen,

    Though i live in South Africa i consider myself an outsider when it comes to Outfitters because i am also only a service provider to them.

    Here is my thoughts... and this does refer to this specific case and i do not know any of the outfitters this thread relates to, this is a more generalized comment

    1 - As one post states communication in South Africa can be a nightmare at times, one of my businesses is being a internet service provider to companies in outlying areas, and i can tell you with confidence due to structures and the way communication legislation is in South Africa even me as a SP cannot guarantee a reliable internet service.

    Cell communication is also sporadic that it is not always possible to even read mails on a mobile device, then there is the fact that you book a Safari to get away from business and phones, you will not like it if the outfitter checks his mail in the hunting areas, well most hunting areas does not even have cell coverage.

    Land line communication, that is a scary subject on its own, the main and only fixed line provider in RSA has lately stopped repairing rural phone lines due to copper theft, if the client complains after 2 + months without service they tell them, we are sorry but we will not replace or repair that line.... now taking this in consideration, i have clients who have been marketing as outfitter for 20+ years with their landlines number as the primary contact number because there is no alternatives in that area.. they get told, sorry find an alternative.

    I understand the frustration that a Outfitter does not respond in time but please remind yourself that we do not live in a 1st world country.

    2 - Taxidermy/Dipping and shipping, as mentioned in this post Taxidermy is you can expect to take time, when it comes to the good taxidermist, they have a large supply of customers and a limitation of time, but that is also not an excuse for delays or late services i agree.

    Dipping and shipping on the other hand, well what i have seen is that when it comes to the taxidermy hunters pick the best, but when it comes to dipping, price makes a decision which is fair, but keep in mind there is good and bad providers in that market aswell. Life has taught me that price is not always the best judge of service or product.

    As for the Outfitter, please keep in mind that dipping and shipping is not their business, mostly D&S is contracted to an external companies and in allot of the cases the client deals directly with the agent but when something goes wrong the outfitter takes the blame and handles the situation, yes there is a argument for that they in some cases do get a commission for business referred, they suggest the agent ext, so they do have a certain responsibility toward the client.

    But blaming the Outfitter for a delays trophy shipment would in the same scenario as blaming him for baggage lost on your flight or bad service on the airlines, ultimately he cannot in reality influence the outcome of a third parties service or product, why should he be held accountable for that.

    3 - As referred to in this case the client is not happy with communications and D&S, and i agree, the outfit can do mush more to be better at this subject, but he also tells how happy he was with the service the people and the company. Now you guys who have hunted in Africa before would have a a understanding for the way things happen, you get up early spend the day in the hunting areas, mostly after dark you return to camp where it is dinner, a few drinks and then everyone goes to bed.

    Now mostly how Outfitters operate is on a personal level, the client meets him at the shows, books a safari with the outfitter and expects that personal attention. South Africa hunting is not yet in a commercialized state where there is marketing staff booking trips, and the client gueses who he will be spending his 10 days with, due to the nature of hunting and the culture of hunting in South Africa, it is seen as a one on one personal service.

    Now the qualities that really influences your return trip is Experience, Trophies , People... now considering this when each client is in camp they expect the outfitters personal experience and attention, having a drink, solving problem and finding solutions to make the client as happy as possible. Now when you are in camp at 22h00 having a drink and remenicing on the days hunt, in the US there is a client sending a e-mail or making a call who also wants to share in that personal attention. This outfitter needs to make a choice "Steal from Pete to pay Paul" situation, then if he decides the client in the camp needs the full attention he needs to get to bed to be ready to provide that service the next morning as well.

    Now i respect these guys, because the juggle different people and personalities, while serving the one trying to please the other, that is one hell of a job, due to the legislation and risk involved in decision most of these Outfitters need to respond to each e-mail personally, a secretary in allot of cased does not have the knowledge or authority to respond. These guys needs to balance this all at the same time, it is not a 9-5 job, this is almost a 24/7 job to keep everyone happy.

    4 - Business wise, i have heard allot that outfitter are not good business men, and in allot of cases i agree, but i can guarantee you you do not want a businessman being your PH, you want someone with a passion for hunting the animals and people, most businessmen i know does not really fit in that picture as a permanent PH.

    These guys have a passion for what they do, yes they do have flaws, and there is external factors that influence their reputation, but when you expect this level of passion an love for hunting, you cannot expect a 'Wallstreet CEO" to manage the operation, just imagine what it would have cost to hunt Africa, and not to mention the cold corporate transaction feeling you would get.

    5 - Something i keep encountering in these forums is always the factor of price, now i do understand cost plays a role, but i can almost guarantee you when you shop for price only you will get what you pay for..... there is allot of guys out there with allot of smart tricks...

    Best comparison i can think of, at which Five Start hotel will you pay 2 Star prices and get 5 Star service, i don't know of such a place, there is reasons why there is cheap and higher priced product, services, hotels, outfitter ext...

    the first thing that gets to me is when someone pays for a small Toyota and expect a luxury German Sports car, it is unreasonable no matter how you look at it, and that is why allot of people get bad experiences and Africa gets blamed not a budget.

    So please consider that these guys are not always the only party to be blamed, and that they might not be the best business men and they might be pricy, but once thing i can tell you, if you book a safari with a PHASA member and as suggested using forums like these to verify the company, you will get a person devoted to giving you the best personal experience possable, these guys work hard and spend allot of time away form their families most of the time for a less that reasonable income, because they have a passion for what they are doing.

    It is the South African Culture, we love people and love making others happy.

    So yes that is my opinion, i know allot of you will not agree with me, and some outfitter will also not like my opinion,
    but the one Fact of life is YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY..
     
  14. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I agree,
    .
     
  15. Wolverine67

    Wolverine67 AH Fanatic

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    I have read this thread with great interest. It says a lot about people. When you are more than pleased with earlier hunts and almost feel like the PH and his family are your family, why dont you just tell him that, AND tell him about the issue about the com. and the trophies. After all he try to make a living out of it and I am sure that a pro PH can take it, especially since you are pleased with all the rest of the hunt. If you clear out this and say that you want a dedicated taxidermy company to handle your trophies I am sure that your hunting experience will be good.
     
  16. MarvelAfrica

    MarvelAfrica AH Senior Member

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    Wolverine, i could not agree more, Honesty !!
     
  17. bcarper

    bcarper AH Veteran

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    I agree with Hatzview, you need to find a different outfitter or at least a decent taxidermist. I left my animals with Images of Africa in Joberg, they went to Limpopo and picked them up for me. Great outfit, Kevin is the man.
     
  18. SA Hunting Outfitters

    SA Hunting Outfitters AH Senior Member

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    JamieD sorry to dig this up now but pls tell us how the story ends?????
     
  19. Safari Afrika

    Safari Afrika AH Enthusiast

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    I would alo like to know ! This is what is the most challenging when we do our marketing . You hear from too many Outfitters that do not DELIVER ! It is sad. i hope this finally got resolved.
     
  20. JamieD

    JamieD AH Veteran

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    I will let my wife reply to this one. She is better with words than I am.

    (from Val)
    How the story ends?? We are currently on Volume 3 of this novel. Our publisher said it was much too long for just one book. Where to begin...? We are planning to do a trip report for both 2010 and 2011 but our hunt still is not over. We went to Zim last August with this same outfitter since our plans were already in place for months when he told us to expect the trophies "any time now". Our outfitter assured us when we met them for our second trip in Aug 2011 that all would be cleared up and they would contact the exporter to find out why they had not yet been shipped. He sounded very surprised to hear they hadn't yet. The trophies had now had their 1st birthday (but no party was held). He once again seemed so genuine and so we just hoped for the best. At this point what else could we do? We had our hunt in Zim, which is Volume 2 of this story for another day. When we got home our outfitter was supposed to email us a final invoice since we hunted more days due to a cancelled flight (see Volume 2). Anyway, we had trip insurance and were waiting on his invoice to submit this. Nothing came. We emailed....we called....sometimes we would "tag-team" it and literally call him 10x a day trying to get a hold of him. Nothing. To date we have not spoken to him ONCE since last August. No idea why. Begin Volume 3. We are grateful for our PH who took over from there and looked into the issue himself and found that some paperwork was not in order due to our outfitter's mistake. Our PH took care of it but it took him awhile for the outfitter to even talk to him. No idea why. I will fast forward to Chapter 14 of Volume 3 (there really is enough of a story there). Our trophies from 2010 have FINALLY left Joberg after several mentions of "wow, this has NEVER happened before...but here's the problem..." (by most everyone who had seen, touched or looked at the trophies and/or any paperwork relating to said trophies). As of yesterday they are waiting in Atlanta for yet more paperwork in order to ship on. You are wondering about our 2011 trophies at this point? I believe that is the ending to Volume 3 and beginning of Volume 4. We knew Africa would be an experience but we had no idea what we were in for. We've learned a lot these past 2 years- particularly the acute difference from Afrikaans to English in the phrase "I will do that just now". We have faith that God has a higher reason for all of this that we may never understand so we have learned to "give it up". Its not like we're really in charge anyway. We still love Africa and are actually returning again this August (see Volume 4). Not with the same outfitter, if that necessitates stating.
     

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