Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not impressed Saga!

I do not feel very charitable when it comes to Saga and in particular the operations manager  (Himself) of Saga Volunteer Travel. All our dealings about the project were done through Himself.  These sentiments have also been expressed by my fellow volunteers and also some of the volunteers in the other school above Colombo.

Being Irish, the words piss up and brewery come to mind as in not able to organise a.......

After my initial enquiries about the Volunteer programme and sending in the required documents, Himself invariably did not answer emails. I had sent emails enquiring if they had received my completed application, as there had been no acknowledgement of same.  I also asked what the post application process was i.e. "What happens next? When  will I hear if I have been accepted?  Guess what, no replies! I was a teacher and as such possess a reasonable amount of patience.  However, it would have been nice to know that they had received my official application and following process. After waiting a couple of weeks I eventually rang Saga and got the information, not from Himself, I may add. He was visiting a project in St. Lucia. But he was only there for a week,not for the length of time it took to ignore my emails.   Have Saga never heard of the automated email reply "I am out of the office until...."

My next batch of emails came  two months later, post acceptance.  I wanted to fly from Istanbul and when I emailed Himself  to see if this was possible! I got a reply, yes no problem he would get the Bespoke Travel Team to get in touch.  I waited one week ...two weeks...sent an reply ...emailed again as flight prices were rising and I wanted to make onward plans. 

Eventually, I sent another email to Himself, this time quite annoyed, of course he didn't reply but the travel team did get in touch. the first thing they told me was "Sorry you are not a British citizen, we cannot book your flights!"  I had no problem with this, I am well used to booking my own. But I had wasted a month.

I had also been told in October that there  was another volunteer going to the same school  and I would be given her contact details as soon as they had my Garda Clearance Certificate. This was so that we could get to know each other prior to going. Eh! they had received  my certificate in August. That was three months ago.  So I emailed again as Himself had said CRB and Maybe my Garda Clearance Cert was not sufficient.  I did get a reply this time, my Garda cert was fine but two months later I still had no contact details. By this time, I was beginning to feel like a nuisance caller, constantly emailing when not getting replies. I was highly disillusioned with Saga's organisation  but at this stage I was committed to going. 

 I was promised information about the school and what would be expected of me six weeks prior to travelling. Four weeks to go and nothing. I was in Ireland for Christmas and wanted to call into my  school and gather some resources so I emailed again. Waited, nothing, so I telephoned Himself. I was lucky, they had just arrived on his desk. He would post them out. As I was travelling back to Turkey, I asked for them to be emailed. Wonder of wonders, I got them that evening! Follow this up with the accommodation fiasco and the lack of support on the ground during the project.

Seriously not impressed Saga!

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