MANHATTAN — The city's consumer watchdog agency is investigating a New York City-based sightseeing bus company after dozens of customers complained the tour ripped them off, spewed bogus information on the tour and refused to give refunds, officials said.
Go New York Tours — which offers a range of trips costing upwards of $30 per adult — has racked up 34 customer complaints with the Department of Consumer Affairs over the past three years for failing to provide guided tours or audio guides and then stiffing customers who ask for their money back, according to traveler complaints and the agency.
The watchdog agency has also conducted 16 inspections of the company over the past three years and issued nine violations for "improper signage," officials said.
The company, whose green double-decker buses take sightseers to famous landmarks including the Apollo Theater, Empire State Building and South Street Seaport, earned the wrath of its customers on online review sites. The company got a paltry average of one out of five star rating from 260 reviews on popular travel site TripAdvisor.
"I will give it my best to try and shut this rip-off down," wrote irate reviewer Karl J on Jan. 6. "The sound system did not work at all, and there was no tour guide on board."
Other people complained they were told buses would come about every 15 minutes on their hop-on,hop-off tours, but waits were actually much longer.
"They falsely state buses run every 10-15mins. LIES EVERY HOUR if your (sic) lucky & then BUS could be full!" wrote willowcat01 on Dec. 24.
The reviewer added that they tried to get their money back, to no avail.
"Filled in a complaint form but they emailed us to say they offer a 'NO REFUND POLICY.'"
A former worker for Go New York, who spoke to DNAinfo New York anonymously because he feared retribution from the company's management, said they were directed to make the refund process as complicated as possible in the hopes most tourists would give up on trying to get their money back.
The company would also allegedly have ticket sellers work as tour guides without giving them any training, he said.
"They would basically just point at things," the former worker said. "Or just sit down for the whole ride."
Go New York Tours did not respond to a request for comment.
The city's Department of Consumer Affairs urged anyone who has had problems with the tour bus company "to file a complaint online at nyc.gov/consumers or by calling 311," according to a spokeswoman.