We are currently on a tour in Beijing with Travelstar booked through Groupon and it's obviously all a big scam. On day one, we'd wanted to skip some sights and head to the hotel straight as we were exhausted - but our tour guide said that if we were to leave the tour, we had to pay a penalty of $300. She also forcefully asked us to go on the optional tour (S$70 each) and said that if we did not go, the agency would make her pay for it. I was shocked and asked to speak to the Singaporean travel company staff - I was then shouted at by a horrible rude staff who spoke with a threatening tone.
We thus decided to stay on the tour, only to be shuttered from one shop to another (jade, silk, tea etc). While we were not forced to buy anything, our guide did forcefully make us stay in each shop for at least 50 minutes. She'd stated that if we left earlier, it would get her into trouble. Yesterday, we were supposed to get a foot massage and were brought to a hospital where a Tibetan 'doctor' came to read our palm lines and predict our health problems. It was all obviously a big scam - the doctor said some of us were impotent, some of us could not give birth - it was a terrible thing to say to elderly people who actually might believe them.
The other group members were equally unhappy with the itinerary but there was nothing we could do about it. The guide also did not speak any English even though it was stated on the itinerary that she did - while there were foreigners on the tour who couldn't understand Mandarin. The worst part of it all was that they kept our passports in the hotel safe box (when we had one each in our room) and claimed that it was for security purpose . We had to shout at the guide to actually get our passports back. We just left the tour today (today is the last day) - and they are demanding us to pay $300 and to leave the hotel. I have already received a threatening email from the company.
This is definitely the worst tour of my life - and I've already lodged a complaint to CASE (Consumer Association of Singapore) and Singapore Tourism Board. Do NOT book a tour through Groupon or Travelstar by any means unless you want to be cheated.
Here is the link to the deal: