Not advisable to use self-employed drivers and tour guides

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Today I receive an email by a traveler named Karen. In her email, she tells me of her family’s bad experience in Beijing and hopes to have her suffering posted in my blog to warn potential travelers to avoid the same frustration.  Below is what she says:
 
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Dear Daniel Li
 
Thanks for your great information that you share with potential tourists.
 
However, maybe it is worthwhile also dropping a line on the warnings for travelling in Beijing.
 
Last week we were in this amazing fabulous city, travelling with our 4 young children (2-6 years old). Via a friend we got in touch by e-mail with a person named “kelly”. We asked this person to arrange a minivan on Sunday 9am, so we could go to the Great Wall. We agreed by mail a price of RMB 500 for driving us to the Wall and back. We explained we were not interested in seeing museums, as our kids would be bored and very tired, ready for their afternoon sleep. This seemed to be understood by Kelly.
 
As we arrived very late the Saturday night before we contacted Kelly and asked if we could rearrange our pick up time to 10 am, so the kids could sleep a little longer.
 
Next morning 10am, a person named Emma came and pick us up. After just 15 minutes of driving, the driver stopped the car and Emma, being on the phone all the time, told us she needed RMB 900. If we did not agree we had to leave the minivan. In a city that we dont know, travelling with 4 kids, this is a very unpleasant situation. We ended up screeming and yelling at eachother and totally upset. Kids were crying, well, you can imagine. Finally we were brought back by these criminals and took their pictures and of the license plate of the vehicle used.
 
Of course this is totally unacceptable and a great shame for the tourist industry, the city of Beijing and for China, normally known as a safe country to travel in, as well. We have lived in China for 2 years now and never had such bad experience with this dark site of China. We do hope you will do something with our story, convincing potential travellers to use well-know, reliable agencies to book tours, use their hotel services or book via your website.
 
If you need more details as phone numbers, mail addresses, pictures and license plate number of these criminals, please let us know.
 
Good luck with your website!
Karen
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Two days later I got the reply from Karen below:
 
Hi Daniel,
Thanks so much for your reaction on my mail and please go ahead publishing my experiences.
 
Of course I know life is beautiful and soon I will forget. However in this particular case I want to point out we arrived the night before and I have to wake up our kids early and promissed them the right on the Wall.
 
It is not just my husband and me, there were 4 young (2 – 6 year) kids involved. In that case they should have said in the hotel BEFORE we left what their intentions were. They probably thought we were a great catch and would have to agree because we were so vulnerable. Using my kids to put me in a depending position is the worst you can do to a mum!
 
That is why this all upset us so much. Not because of us, but because now my children are telling everyone that tour operators in Beijing should all go to prison. They don’t understand (yet) that there are also great people living there!
Please help me in stopping these criminals! Thanks.
 
Plate number of the vehicle involved: 20611
 
Hope you will be very successful in your business!
 
Warmest regards,
Karen
 

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