ZDF exposes Sandeman's New Europe tours business

209 posts in this topic

 

I agree that it's exploitative but nobody came out of that film looking very good. Sandemann of course. That British immigrant who feels entitled to live in Germany and earn a living here but clearly hasn't been bothered to make the effort to learn German. The tour attendeees who get great value from someone's work but who only fork out about 5 Euro per head on average (so some must be so tight as to give nothing).

 

Do Finanzamt care that much? In general (not referring to this particular instance), there's a vast swathe of "non-compliant" business here that is overlooked, including that which takes advantage of / exploits immigrants who can't even speak the language of the country they choose. But what's the alternative? More immigrants who are unable to fend for themselves on Hartz IV living off Germans' tax?

 

The Brit immigrant earned 18 Eur net. So that's what, 6 Eur an hour, which I understand is fairly normal for Berlin? He's freelance, that's his choice (and he's hardly the only freelancer to give a cut to the people that find the work). He can do other stuff the rest of the time, he's not an employee. And as saffagirl says, presumably he did the maths?

 

So who should have blown the whistle on this? Should an exploited migrant have to wait and just put up with it until a German speaks up? Or would it be acceptable once he learnt German??

 

The fact that ZDF picked up the story and broadcast it should in itself tell you that it's not kosher...

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I know the guides agree to the terms in the first place, but I still think it's misleading and exploitative on the part of the company. Basically they are getting free labor with absolutely no risk or commitment on their part. There is no guarantee that these guides are any good--the company obviously isn't willing to put anything on the line to guarantee the quality of their guides, they get the same amount of money no matter what

yes thats it.. the basic strategy behind his scheme is that Berlin is so over saturated with an endless line of desperate expats(english speaking) that 'just must have a job' that he gets away with it! its pure extortion in its most basic form. and if you as an employee bitch or complain then he fires u on the spot and has another 50 applicants for the one guiding job tommorrow.. get it!

 

in the end its not a free tour.. its extortion!

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@Tafthedigger: Am I wrong in assuming that you work/have worked for this company in order to wax so lyrical about it?

 

I don't think the main issue here is whether or not Mr. Sandeman can hold a knife and fork correctly, it is about stamping out exploitative working practices? And while I feel that the guides know full well what they are getting into beforehand, the people going on the tours have no idea of the concept.

 

I was told that people tip 10-15 euros on average at the end of the trip so that if you had 10 people in your group (apparently the average) you would make at least around 150-180 euros. Take off the 30-40 euros you'd have to pay to the company and you would be left with a nice little amount. BUT, after thinking about it, I realised that most people going on these tours would be in pairs/couples. Now if my husband and I tip, we wouldn't both give money, we would only give one tip between the two of us. And we certainly wouldn't tip 30 euros for a tour that was billed as 'free' - maybe we're just stingy, but that would kind of defeat the purpose of a free tour for us. So as a guide you'd have to factor in that other couples might do the same? Add to that the fact that the head count is taken at the start of the tour - what about the people who drift away during the course of it? Do you as a guide still have to pay the fee per head at the end, even if Mr. and Mrs. Lazy decide halfway through to stop for a cup of coffee somewhere - after all. it is a free tour so they can just get the next one again?

 

Would the concept be as successful if the tourists were told beforehand how things worked? I wonder... :unsure:. Personally, I would feel a bit uncomfortable about the whole thing.

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I am saddened to read that Mr Sandeman is being vilified on here. He is a great fella to work for and treats his staff well.

lmao! (just made the liberty of adding a few links to prove you're absolutely right)

 

I have met few New Berlin guides. I don't think anyone would let a stranger who's only a month in a city to guide them around (even for absolutely free), but many of them are such a short time in the city, and the reason they do it, among other reasons, is that they don't know any better, and in any case, none of the established companies (ones that actually pay their guides and not the other way round) would hire someone who's been here only a month or two. NBT has in my superficial impression very high level of turnover in guides leaving - either because they get tired of the scam they got into or because they have found better, lawful, employment.

 

About a year ago there has been a thread somewhere on Toytown (sorry, too lazy to get you the link) with a woman telling us that she was a New Munich Pub Crawl guide. She complained about Munich policemen not dealing with her being drunk and losing her wallet with that evening's wages properly. But you didn't need much reading between the lines to understand that:

- The guide, who is supposed to be responsible for the people in the tour, was drunk

- The guide knew no German, or even Bavarian (what if she had to call an ambulance on the tour?)

- The guide didn't really know Munich

- She was later berated and badly treated by her "employer" for losing that money, which she of course owed them.

 

The reasons someone would even agree to such a deal are complicated. EUR6/hour might be acceptable for a bouncer at a club, but then again, this bouncer probably gets paid, besides this EUR6/hour, also social security, health insurance etc. by the employer. Some don't know any better, some are lacking job permit, some are very hopeful and then afraid of Sandemann's threats as mentioned in the contract.

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About a year ago there has been a thread somewhere on Toytown with a woman telling us that she was a New Munich Pub Crawl guide

Not that I'm trying to defend either Sandeman's or the NBT/NMT groups, but the guide in question was a girl called 'sushified' - if you read any of her other posts, you'd have seen that she had some major issues and would probably have gotten herself into trouble eating a croissant. I would not use her as an example of the average tour guide, as much as I agree with the rest of your post! :lol:

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Too bad some people didn't "get" the sarcasm in Taff the Diggers post. I thought it was well written and it made me laugh.

 

Now, go back and give him a few greens instead of reds if you misunderstood and thought he was "defending" sandemanns, instead of making fun of them.

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Just been having a look at their website. They charge €35 for their Neuschwanstein day trip. Not too bad until you realise that entrance to the castle isn't included in the price; this costs an extra €9. In fact, their only expense is the Bayern Tickets that they use to get to the castle and back, a mere €5.60 per person. So they make almost €30 profit for each person they sign up. Their Dachau tour costs €19 when the only expense is the MVV-Partner Ticket (€3.60 per person). At those prices, I hope the guides are really good.

 

Since their free walking tours are their main method of getting people to sign up for these expensive tours, it makes the €3 penny-pinching even more inexcusable.

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There's nothing to stop the tour guides from quitting (or getting themselves fired) and starting their own one person tour company. All you need is a printed T-shirt and a "Free tours" sign and a few hundred flyers for hotels which you can design yourself and get printed up...and all that wouldn't cost any more than the €300 that the Sandeman guides have to pass on every week...

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I hope that the authorities run him out of business, which is harsh, but it would be the right thing to do.

As i stated earlier this is the only way to win.. because quite frankly he dosent really care.. as he knows tommorrow is another day of desperate expats that will work for nothing.. what he needs is the Financeamt on his doorstep with the polizei.. demanding to explain his actions at least the MINIMUM in front of the Händelskämmer (i believe tourism falls under this one)or the local judge that deals small business claims..(if you watch the ZDF video he is breaking all kinds of Lohnrecht and Steuerrecht laws) I think this probably is the only way to win or will keep going on and on and on.. because in one week this will all be forgotten ;)

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qualification system for tour guides ... was abolished for the European common market

 

The qualification system is still in place. What has been abolished (although not yet everywhere) is a system whereby only qualified and registered guides may guide in a particular city. In practice, many tour-operators still use registered guides for city tours: others, mostly but by no means exclusively at the cheaper end of the market, ask the tour-manager (the person who accompanies the tour throughout the itinerary) to guide in a city. Saves the tour-operator the cost of a local guide.

 

In Germany and in the UK, there is no obligation to use a registered local guide.

 

Speaking as someone who's both a guide and a tour-manager, it's generally the case that a local guide who knows a city back to front and knows the history can provide a better experience for a group. On other occasions, the local guide can be quite clueless.

 

To improve the standing of local guides, there are all kinds of CPD - Continuous Professional Development courses - which they can attend to keep skills and knowledge up-to-date. The guiding profession generally holds the view that a qualification should be a guarantee of quality in a very competitive market.

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LET'S ALL DO SOMETHING

 

Yes. It could all be forgotten in a week. This shouldn't about whether guides working for this company are good or not. They need the money, don't attack them.

 

Take on the company's methods. Their employment practices have just been declared illegal by an expert, their tips scheme may well be a massive tax dodge. They are cheating European cities out of the due income from Tourism. They are unfairly running the competition out of town.They are forcing pay and conditions down throughout the Tourism industry.

 

What can you do?

 

Watch the Youtube video of the ZDF report:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9jWhGn93hw

 

*Share your ratings, comments and thumbs on it.

*Send the youtube link to everyone you know and ask them to rate and comment on the video.

*Does anyone know how to make an English-subtitled version of it? Please do so, and post it here.

*Has anyone updated the Wikipedia page on the Free Tours to include translations of this TV report?

*We need an independent platform where we can meet to keep up the momentum: join this facebook this group

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=356136989345

*Do you know people who work under these 'free tour' conditions or companies that cooperate with 'free tour' operators? Then send them this video link and explain why you will be boycotting them until they sever their links.

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If you can fulfill your sense of civic duty by giving thumbs up on a YouTube video, more power to you.

 

But if you really want to do something, write to the Finanzamt in the cities where they have their tours (Berlin, Hamburg, Munich) and make a formal complaint ("wie im Frontal21-Beitrag vom 9.3.10 zu sehen war..."). Write the same letter to Wirtschaftssenator Harald Wolf in Berlin, Präses der Behörde für Wirtschaft und Arbeit Axel Gedsachko in Hamburg and Referent für Arbeit und Wirtschaft Dieter Reiter in Munich.

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