It is common for people to recommend you to check the company’s hire terms and conditions, the cancellation and refund policies, and many other things related to mitigation. However, the hope for mitigation only exists if you are dealing with a regulated company.
A week ago, a local investment company well known as Capital Chicken Ltd was closed after operating for more than two years. The same company had advertised on more than five major media houses in Uganda. They had been hosted for a number of talk shows in the country. Many social media influencers recommended the same company to their followers. Unfortunately, everyone was focusing on the good reviews of people who had been paid. Most of them never took the time to ask a very important question; what happens if we fall out with capital chicken?
Similar to Capital Chicken, many tour companies in Uganda have been operating for more than three years or even ten years with very good reviews from former clients. Most of the time, these reviews are not faked; they are authentic reviews from former clients. But one challenge is never discussed, what happens when you fall out with this company?
To avoid most of the scandals involved in booking with the wrong tour operators or a none licensed tour operator. Here are some of the things to do:
Check whether the company is listed on the Uganda Tourism Board Website
All licensed tour operators in Uganda are listed on the Uganda Tourism Board website. For a company to be licensed by the Uganda Tourism Board; it must have a physical office with signage outside its offices. They must be a registered company with the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) and they should also have sample itineraries for their most popular packages.
Therefore before booking with a local tour company, consider checking whether it is listed on the Uganda Tourism Board website. It is also important to note that only licensed tour companies in Uganda are allowed to buy gorilla trekking permits and chimpanzee tracking permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Check whether the company is listed on the URSB Website
All registered companies in Uganda are listed on the Uganda Registration Service Bureau website. Any company that is operating without any record of registration should obviously be avoided. For the most part, such companies are operating illegally. Therefore in case of any serious disagreements, there is a likelihood that they will simply disappear to avoid charges of operating without registration or licensing.
To ensure that you are dealing with real people; always confirm with URSB whether the company is registered in Uganda. It is very common to find a company that has good reviews but is neither licensed nor registered to do business in Uganda.
Check whether the company is A Member of Any Tourism Associations
One of the most popular tourism associations in Uganda is well known as; “Association of Uganda Tour Operators” (AUTO). Most of the tour companies subscribe to this association. If you are dealing with a tour company that is not listed on the UTB website, and it does not feature anywhere on the URSB website then the final trigger should be to confirm whether they are a member of any association.
For anyone to be a member of an association like AUTO, they are required to present their company registration documents as well as a recommendation from one of the AUTO members.
Never Send Money To A Personal Account
Besides the down payments, tour operators will often ask you money to help you arrange your gorilla trekking permits as well as the chimpanzee tracking permits.
One of the best ways to identify that you are dealing with a company that is neither licensed nor registered; is their lack of a business account. A business account often has a number of signatories making it very possible to hold more than one person accountable, unlike the personal account.
The safest way to send money for your Uganda safari is through pesapal or DPO. Though these merchants often charge higher than a wire transfer in some cases; they are actually more secure than a wire transfer. Wire transfers to Uganda sometimes fall victim to “man-in-the-middle attacks”.
Pesapal also makes it possible to leave a cash-back debt on the account of any service provider who charged you without offering the services. The cashback helps make claims for any money that was taken without offering the services.
Though it is still possible to get scammed by a company that meets the above criteria, you would have proper room for follow-up and mitigation. The best companies to deal with are those with lodges and campsites since there is no way they will disappear when they have a running business such as a guesthouse or a hotel.