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Komodo dragon in Rinca IslandKomodo dragon in Rinca Island

Jump to the section:
Pre-trip: delays and bad communication
Our agreement
 The bout tour is delayed
 Mr Jeffrey Buana becomes violent
 The shock
 Putri Komodo boat doesn't leave
 Final Review of Jeffrey Buana

Please BE CAREFUL before booking a Komodo tour with JEFFREY BUANA and PUTRI KOMODO tour. He is an UNRELIABLE, VIOLENT and DANGEROUS person. You are putting at risk not only your money, but also your own safety.
Before reading the long and full details, you should know that he threatened to beat me and throw me on the sea, even if he knew I couldn't swim, to crash my expensive DSLR camera, he asked an extra payment for his own mistakes and he was eternally late by some hours.

His company is known also as PT. KOMODO EKO WISATA tours and travels, so watch out also for that name. Now the full story.

Never ending delays, disrespect and bad communication during the pre-trip phase

After reading several good reviews on Lonely Planet Forum and Trip Advisor before leaving, we decided that the best solution to enjoy at the best our Komodo and Rinca boat tour was to book a tour with Mr Jeffrey Buana.
(EDIT: Only now we were shown that he had already some bad reviews on Tripadvisor, please read also messages # 19,20 and 22 on this topic. User 567PhilipH from UK agrees on many points with us and says "to avoid this man at all costs", "He is very unorganised", "he did not apologise for a whole day wasted", "after a few hours our boat broke down", "without the offer of any refund". Another user, Raven678 from France is also really negative and says: "I would avoid Jeffrey Buana from Putri Komodo at all costs", "Only after calling countless times did we realise his car was not working", "he would ignore your calls", "he seems to lack control of his business, inexperienced, slipshod, had little followup and charged us with hidden fees", "he was over an hour late" "This man is a gangster")
We first arrived on Labuan Bajo on August the 27th July and after having sent an email days before and having received no reply by Mr Jeffrey Buana, we tried to ask in town where was the office of Putri Komodo to speak directly with him, since in the website it was written only a general address with the name of the town, but no street, and this should already look suspicious. To our surprise nobody heard of his company before, and many people could not locate the agency and we walked ourself from beginning to the end of Labuanbajo many times during our stay, without seeing his office.
So we soon contacted Mr Jeffrey Buana by telephone, and we agreed on a meeting point: we would have met at our hotel to agree on the details of our trip.
At the phone he said he was going to come immediately, so we just prepared to welcome him, and we waited in our room.
After several hours waiting he was still not showing up, so we contacted him once more. Without even apologizing he set up a new meeting time at 6pm. Also this other time he managed to go beyond any limit, and at 7:30 pm we had to call him again asking where was he.
He was apparently having dinner with other guests in a restaurant 50 meters away, and he didn't even had the respect to spend two minutes of his time to come and tell us he would have delayed again.
We lived in Indonesia for 1 year, so we know what it means "rubber time" and that rarely Indonesians manage to arrive on time at appointments, but in this occasion it was starting to get out of control, and it looked really disrespectful.
Basically we waisted one whole afternoon of our vacation waiting for Mr Jeffrey Buana.
We started to be pissed off, and he eventually left his other guests temporarily and he came to speak with us.
After starting the discussion, we realized he had no idea whatsoever of what we wrote him in our long and detailed email, and he confirmed he had never read it before (and also after, even in the last day of our experience he confirmed he actually never did). We don't know why at that point we still insisted to trust him, that was probably the biggest of our mistakes.
He looked an apparently friendly and easygoing person, so even if our experience so far was really bad, we still asked for a boat tour.  We were probably still influenced by the many good reviews he received on Internet (at this point I wonder if they were all real) and wanted the best for our Komodo Tour, that was supposed to be the highlight, not only of our recent trip but of the whole 1 year we stayed in Indonesia, so unfortunately we trusted more the opinion of the others than our own feelings.

Our final agreement for the Rinca and Komodo boat tour

We proposed a special agreement to Mr Jeffrey Buana about the price, because we are travel writers and we would have written about our experience with his company Putri Komodo on our website giving him visibility (We not only manage our own website, but we collaborate with 2 important press groups attracting millions of visits to their web portals), so that basically we were paying the tour with our work rather than with money, but he didn't accept in full our offer and he made us another proposal instead. We were supposed to cover all the extra expenses (Entry permits, Snorkeling, Guides, etc.), so that he didn't have to invest even a single $ on us. He even pretended from us to rent by ourselves our snorkeling equipment, a mere cost of 25.000 Rp per day (about 2$), when we were offering him several hundreds dollar worth of our work and visibility. Basically we were doing a big favor to him by accepting his proposal.
We originally asked for a 3D2N tour, but he said that most of the people were going only on a 2D1N, so if we wanted to share the tour with others, that was our only option. We were in doubt, because for the next days he was fully booked, and he proposed us to join one of his tour at anytime after the 6th of August. That was 10 days later and it meant for us to change completely our plan, to leave Labuan Bajo the following day and to come back at the end of our trip in Flores. Also from the economical point of view of a press trip, for us it was not really advantageous, since he was offering only a 2 days tour instead of 3 as we wanted, and we still had to cover many expenses and do a lot of work later, so compared to other press trips we did before this was 6 times less valuable than usual.
Even if to most of the people it would have looked like an absurd idea to agree after Mister Buana seemed so unreliable and the tour not economically convenient, we eventually accepted his terms still influenced by the reviews we read in Internet, and after a few days we gave him confirmation and booked a 2 days one night tour for the day 11th and 12th August. We received verbal confirmation during a phone call by Mr Jeffrey Buana that it was a good choice, a tour was starting exactly that day, and being reassured of the feasibility of the trip, we also bought 2 non refundable tickets to go by ferry from Flores to Bali, the day after the tour, August the 13th, the only ferry available in the following 2 weeks.

The day of the boat trip arrives: more never-ending delays

After exploring the beauty of Flores Island, eventually it was time to go back to Labuan Bajo for our long awaited Komodo boat tour.

View of the bay of Labuan Bajo during a gray dayView of the bay of Labuan Bajo during a gray day
After our previous communications with Mr Jeffrey Buana we still had a strange feeling despite having had confirmation, and we didn't feel like trusting him till the end. That's why we decided that just to be sure we weren't missing this opportunity, it was better to go back one day earlier. So on August 9th at lunch time we were already back in Labuan Bajo, so that in case the two days one night tour was starting on August 10th instead of August 11th, we still could have joined.
We called again Putri Komodo owner, and we were confirmed that the tour would have started on August the 11th, and we agreed that at 8:00 somebody from his team would have picked us up in front of our hotel.
And eventually it came the day to start the trip and after renting our own snorkeling equipment at 7:50 we were waiting in front of our guest-house as agreed.
Once more fear started to fall on us while minutes were running fast, and nobody was showing up. In the meanwhile we were seeing all of the guests of the other Komodo boat tour companies leaving, and we were the only one left on the main road.
We called again Mr Jeffrey Buana and we were reassured somebody would have come in 15 minutes. It passed other 35 minutes, for a total waiting time of 1 hour 40 minutes until somebody would come.
At that point we released a little bit our tension, but we thought we were not going to be totally relaxed until we would have been on the boat. And unfortunately our intuition was real.
While walking to the harbour his assistant told us there would have been 7 guests on the boat, among which a big family, and he asked us if we were ready for the 3 days 2 nights tour.
We froze and got shocked: even if at the beginning we wanted a 3D2N tour, it wasn't an option anymore for us since Mr Jeffrey told us it was only a 2D1N trip and we later bought the tickets for the only ferry to Bali on August 13th, that we couldn't miss, otherwise we would have overstayed our Visa. Mr Jeffrey was aware of this, since we explained every detail at the phone.

Mr Jeffrey Buana become violent and aggressive

We went straight to the boat he owns, (By the way, a quite disappointing one compared to the others visible on the harbour of the same class) to speak with My Jeffrey.
He said that he totally forgot to tell us of the program change (How is that possible that you forget of your guests!), and taking no responsibility for his unreached disorganization and once more not even apologizing, he said it was no other option for us than to decide to stay on his boat and to loose the ferry to Bali, or not to go on the Komodo boat tour with him, despite we booked 2 weeks in advance, and for which we went back on purpose to Labuan Bajo losing several days of our holidays.  He says we could have renounced to our ferry tickets to book at our own expenses a private boat tour for August 14th going to Bali. This would have meant for us not only a huge economical loss, but also a big risk, since private boat tour from Flores to Lombok and Bali are known to be unsafe (A boat from Pertama company, previously considered by Lonely Planet the most reliable tour boat company on that route, sank with its guest a couple of years ago)
We were totally in shock, not only for the incredible situation out of any possible imagination, but also by his cold behaviour proposing no solution to his own mistakes.
After discussing more he proposed us to stay only the first 2 days on his boat, and then to pay out of our pockets 500.000 Rp more, for him to book us a small boat to pick us up and bring us back in time in Labuan Bajo.
We refused, outraged by his approach and told him it was just crazy and he was supposed to pay for the extra money, since his disorganization created the problem. All of this expressed in a animated but civil and polite way, despite we probably had the right to get really pissed off.
At that point Mr Jeffrey Buana started to get nervous and aggressive and shout to go out of his boat. I sat on a bench and I said that if he wanted us to leave, he had to call the police to pick me up.
He then approached me and came a few centimeters from my face and even more aggressively he said that if I was not moving in that exact moment he was going to beat me and throw me on the water (and I'm sure he would have done that). By the way, he was aware I couldn't swim because I asked him to have a life jacket to snorkel and specified why, so that menace sounded to me something close to "I will kill you", and that's what his violence was actually saying.
I asked my partner Oti to please film a video with the phone and record the audio, so that we could go to the police with the proofs. That made him get even more crazy and he wanted to crash my expensive Reflex Camera, saying that he didn't care if we were going to the police because we had no written evidence of our calls and discussions,  and he was the translator for the police in Labuan Bajo, so it would have had no effect whatsoever.
Oti managed to pull me in time before he would get my camera and beat me and we run away from the boat as fast as we could.
We were still alone in the boat at that moment, since the other guests didn't arrive yet, but we met the family his assistant mentioned before, while going out of the harbour, a German speaking group, and I managed to mention them about the altered state of mind of the owner and captain of Putri Komodo, Mr Jeffrey Buana.

Recovering from the huge shock

Totally in shock we went back towards our hotel thinking of what to do. Our first move was to change our hotel, since he knew where we were staying and it was going to be dangerous to remain there. We told all of the story to our hosts and to the snorkeling rental shop, and we decided not to report it to the police, since Labuan Bajo is a small place, and it would have made him even more angry and things more dangerous.
We were totally confused and emotionally touched: not only we experienced a terrible situation, but now the highlight of our stay in Indonesia and our memories were totally ruined. With one day only left before leaving Flores, we could have managed to organize only a one day tour to Rinca island, going to miss the mythical island of Komodo. A one time occasion in our life, lost and ruined for a situation of which we were not responsible, but only a violent, aggressive and overrated boat owner.
But at that point we were also grateful to not have accepted to pay the extra money to stay on the boat, because if a conflict would have arose while on the boat, it was no possibility to escape.

After almost 6 hours Putri Komodo boat is still at the harbour

The story is still not totally finished, since after relaxing for a few hours we tried to get the most of our time left and we went back for the harbour to search for a boat to rent for the following day for a one day Rinca boat tour.
It was 1:30 pm, and to our big surprise Putri Komodo boat was still at the harbour! That's well 5 hours and a half after our original meeting appointment that was supposed to be at 8am. If we were accepting earlier to stay on the boat, it meant we were paying extra to eventually just spend our time at the harbour!
We don't know what happened, if the family after hearing our story and seeing us so scared and shocked eventually decided to renounce also to their trip, or if it was just one of the eternal delays that look so usual with Mr Jeffrey Buana. Since we were on another pier, we were far enough not to be seen, and we took a photo of the boat to witness the fact.

Our Photo of Putri Komodo boat the day of our tourOur Photo of Putri Komodo boat the day of our tour
The morning of the following day when we eventually went for our 1 day Rinca boat trip, the boat was not there anymore, so they either left with a huge delay, or they didn't go anymore and the boat was moved somewhere else.

Be extremely careful when dealing wuth Putri Komodo and Mr Jeffrey Buana

To summarize our experience, if you are already negotiating a Komodo boat tour with Putri Komodo and Mr Jeffrey Buana, consider it twice before giving him your trust, even if he behaves in a friendly way! You are putting in serious danger not only your money and your holiday, but also your own safety and life. Please BE CAREFUL! He is also a smart person and he didn't leave any trace of our communications. He has never replied to our emails and sms, even if we sent many.

Screenshot of our SMSScreenshot of our SMS

Our only communications were by telephone calls and speaking in person, he was always using not traceable means (And he was aware of that, since he challenged us to show to the police we had a written agreement), so in case despite our warnings and this dangerous experience you decide to put yourself at risk and ask for his services, please make sure that he is giving you a written agreement that you can use in case of problems, and try not to create any conflict.
We are trying to give maximum visibility to this review we wrote about our missed Komodo boat tour, so in case it will have any impact on Mr Jeffrey Buana business as we wish, we wouldn't be surprised if he would change the name of Putri Komodo company, as others already did after scamming people, so be cautious and enjoy you holidays!

Davide VadalàDavide Vadalà
I like to say that I'm a gypsy traveller. In 2009 I quit my job to chase my dream of exploring our wonderful planet in a sustainable way; thanks to my itchy feet, I had a lot of incredible adventures and I got closer to my goal of becoming a travel photographer. I love nature, sustainability, outdoor and hiking, and I never stop dreaming. More about Davide Vadala'. Content attribution on Google +

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Davide Vadal? and Otilia Lefter

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