The International Steam Pages
Bad Eggs - the smell sticks....
Tour company problems continue, click here for information on the demise of Trains Unlimited Tours (latest update 18th January 2011, the commonality referred to below). I continue to be amazed by the number of people who have good things to say about such companies. Of course if someone sells you a beer for USD 1 when it should cost USD 2 then you will be happy, but what about the other guy who has paid the seller the other USD 1 for a beer he will never get?
Two of my correspondents have pointed out that the website of 'Trains and Travel' (the successor to the failed Trains Unlimited Tours organisation) has several tours offered which coincide with those of Tanago. Clearly "Birds of a Feather, work together!"... Since when (added 21st March 2011), these two have got into bed together officially according to the Tanago website.
"You know a man by the company he keeps" - I am not going to 'name and shame' every organisation that does business with this unholy alliance because I have no way to make it comprehensive and the connecting chain could be a long one, but again readers may care to send an appropriate email to those that do...
Tanago is now advertising more widely including the UK's Steam Railway (17th January 2011). I hope UK readers of this site who share my views on Patt and anybody is closely associated with him will suggest to any magazine who runs such advertisements that this is business they can do without...
Patt is back (2nd October 2010). Having abandoned 'Allegro Tours', like 'PhotoCharter', 'Steam Express' and 'Globe Steam', he has got a close friend of good financial standing to register a company name (Tanago) at yet another new address in Berlin and established yet another pretty website to promote both steam and pink tours. It's very disappointing to note that a well-respected magazine like Eisenbahn-Kurier will carry his advertisements.
By 2nd October 2010, the Allegro Tours website was dead.
From the Patt Allegro website - 7th June 2010, "Reisen / Tours 2010 / 2011, Zur Zeit sind keine Reisen geplant, No trips are being planned right now.“ I can't believe we have seen the last of him but if anyone can provide any further information I would be very grateful.
In the meantime, I would also like to hear from anyone who has paid money towards the cost of or booked on the tours previously advertised, mainly to China but also Zimbabwe, the USA and Pakistan and so on.
Can I also urge, once again ,anyone who has been cheated by Patt and who has not come forward to contact me. All information will be treated in total confidence.
It's May 2010 and since my last update, relatively little new has emerged on 'bad egg' Mr. Patt. The address used by "Karin Guroll" to register the www.allegrotours.de/ (link is dead) site is, surprise, surprise Malplaquestr. 10 which maybe she shares with him or maybe ... At the same time, when I queried Patt's promotion of his tours on Patt's website, Geoff Cooke at first replied on 31st March 2010:
"PeterPatt more recently asked if he could promote my tours on a German website as he believed the tours justified exposure in the German market. I agreed a small discount and that benefit was passed on to the end user."
Later on 18th April 2010 he said:
"I have no communication with him beyone that which I would have with any enthusiast. He chose to mention my tours on his website, as do many others."
I and others are very disappointed that such a well established tour operator would have any contact at all with such a character or would allow anything which might appear to condone and legitimise his activities.
At a time when 'bad egg' Mr. Patt is adding more and more tours to his 2010/2011 programme (25th February 2010), I am still being contacted by yet more disappointed Globe Steam customers, as I have said many times before, the exact number will probably never be known, let alone the amount of money involved. From the chaotic way Mr. Patt conducted his business, he probably doesn't know either and I'm sure he doesn't care!
If you are a disappointed customer of Globe Steam, I wouldn't waste time going to the office to ask about Allegro's association with Patt, this is that address; of course it's a post office:
If someone could put me in touch with the apparent operator of this Allegro Tours, Karin Guroll, (should she exist, it's a rare name there can't be many of them), I would be delighted to explain to her the background of Mr. Patt. Similarly, I would like to hear from anyone who has benefited from Allegro Tours operation "Since 2002, we have sucessfully managed visits of small and big groups from all corners of the world to germany. Especially for the soccer worldcup in summer 2006 we organized 14 different groups from Japan, the US, France, Brazil and India to visit this unique event. We also run high-quality tours for classic music lovers to germany´s most famous opera and philharmonic houses." - the text is exactly from the website with spelling and capitalisation mistakes. Things are expressed rather differently in German on the page http://www.allegrotours.de/index.html (link is dead)..
Please don't be impressed by Allegro's website AGB page because virtually all of it has been lifted from standard tour operator's conditions - I checked out one long section and got 7430 exact matches on Google for the first 32 words in it!
I have been given more sinister evidence which cannot yet be published in full here. While it is true that no criminal charges have been brought over the Globesteam debacle, Mr. Patt has had at least one brush with the law with regard to 'fraud and forgery', albeit not in Germany.
Mr. Patt has been active on Ebay for some time and unlike most people he has found it necessary to operate under numerous different aliases. I have been give a minimum suspected list - in the nature of these things it is not always possible to assign these with 100% confidence. No doubt there are more.
What many share is that either they were lightly used or came into the category of 'ended in tears'. Some even traded with each other to improve their reputations!
Peter Patt's 'Steam Express' is now (15th January 2009) offering trips to the USA which appear to be his own package tours (as opposed to the private service referred to below). More seriously the following statement appears at the bottom of the page:
"Diese Reise wird vom Reisebüro AllegroTours veranstaltet, welches auch den Reisepreis-Sicherungsschein ausstellt. Damit sind Ihre Zahlungen komplett abgesichert, Garant der Zahlungen ist die renommierte R+V-Versicherungsgruppe. Bitte beachten Sie, daß Buchungen für diese Reise erst ab 1.1.2010 bearbeitet werden können!" Basically this claims that the tours are bonded through 'AllegroTours' .
A quick web search shows no mention of such a company except www.allegrotours.de/ (link is dead) which is merely a shell site with no points of contact and the links on it dead.
Of course, it is yet another Patt 'organisation' and the HTML contains his usual sticky finger marks - use an on line translator if necessary:
As for the insurance offered through 'R&V' this is a company he claimed to use in the past; in fact no such insurance existed then, of course. Whether it does now, who can say?
Peter Patt is at it again (8th November 2009) trying to run steam tours as at least half a dozen people have sent me the latest news of his 'Steam Express' enterprise. Never mind he is offering, in effect, a private service paid for on arrival in China which minimises future customers risks, anyone tempted to join him ought to read about his previous activities below (I know even more but have insufficient evidence to publish it) and consult their conscience. In due course, the bankruptcy laws will allow him to walk free of his previous debts but that in no way makes him the kind of person any responsible enthusiast should have anything to do with.
Peter Patt surfaced on the recent May 2009 "Geoff's Trains" tour of South Africa. You can view pictures of and by him on have now vanished. Quite how a disgraced and bankrupt tour operator was able to pay his way on such a trip (the website offers "Luxury Train Travel Holidays, Journeys and Steam Tour Heritage") is a question his creditors will all be asking. Equally they may be asking why a well respected tour operator would be willing to do business with him in the full knowledge of his history. Added 10th July 2009.
If you haven't got the message yet, Mr. Peter Patt is a totally amoral man who operates completely outside the bounds of normal acceptable behaviour. If you have any business dealings with him, expect to have problems!
I have had another email from Germany concerning Mr. Peter Patt (30th June 2009). "My name is Detlef Werner and I am writing you from Potsdam/Germany. I also had some experiences with Mr. Patt. He rented a flat in Berlin from me and - as you might have already guessed - did not pay all the rent."
I have had the following email from a small IT enterprise in Germany (3rd May 2009):
"A few weeks ago I read on your page about some interesting facts concerning Mr. Peter Patt and his various companies. In December 2007, Mr. Patt contacted my company for building a website for his train tour company 'Photocharter Ltd.'. Until today he didn't pay the invoice. I'm very interested on any information about his new companies, email addresses or any other information that might be helpful in getting my money. Today I brought a charge against Mr. Patt for committing a fraud against me."
As they say, leopards cannot change their spots.
A quick Google search found this page
(link dead by 25th October 2016) which shows a company of this name was registered at a UK accommodation address
(= post box address) at about this time and later struck off. If you decide to
do business with this man, don't complain later that you weren't warned.
(link dead by 25th October 2016) which shows a company of this name was registered at a UK accommodation address (= post box address) at about this time and later struck off. If you decide to do business with this man, don't complain later that you weren't warned.
Peter Patt continues to operate under various banners, the latest of which is "Steam Express" which offers private steam tours, if you are one of those who is owed money by him then I can give you the contact email. Maybe you will have to use a 'nom de plume' to get a reply though and there is as usual no physical address given! (added 4th March 2009)
One of the unresolved mysteries of the phoenix like return of Globe Steam's Peter Patt has been who in China would want to work with him given his track record. He claims to be using "China by Rail", the successor to Changchun CITS who acted for him previously. "China by Rail" has no web presence I can trace, but I have been given an email address to try and I have asked for clarification. However, as of today (31st December 2008), I have had no response although the email has not bounced. In the meantime, I leave it to the sensible discretion of readers of this page to decide if they would wish to do business with any organisation which would in turn do business with Peter Patt.
Regular visitors to these pages will need no reminding that less than three years ago Peter Patt, aka "Globe Steam", disappeared after relieving his customers of large amounts of their hard-earned money for gricing tours and services that he never provided. Most of that money has never been repaid. Even after he knew the problems he faced he still preferred to use their money to pay off one or more business contacts he doubtless thought might be able to help him in the future instead of returning it to its rightful owners. More recently he has been taken through the German bankruptcy process but only a small proportion of what was owed has ever trickled through.
I thought we'd heard the last of this undesirable character, but now, lo and behold, he's back promoting another tour to China with an email to former customers (29th November 2008). He claims that "I had to settle all results from my previous main business". What on Earth is this supposed to mean? If he's suggesting that he's repaid all those who lost out to him last time then it's simply not true. His customers are still waiting for most of their money. He goes on to say that "despite the fact that I didn't want to get into the tour operator business anymore my friends pushed me quite hard to use my knowledge and contacts for the planning of a winter trip to China" Really? Are their memories that short?
Patt still won't say where he lives or works, something that caused his creditors great difficulty last time round. The only contact he gives is an email address. Would you want to put your trip into the hands of someone when he won't even tell you where you can find him?
There are still some great gricing destinations in China, some of which I've featured very recently on these pages. It's not my role to promote anyone's tours apart from my own but there are several out there on offer this winter to the same places that Patt's being "pushed" to take his friends to. If you're thinking of going, first ask yourself, do you really want to put your trip into the hands of this man given what he's done to his customers in the recent past - or would you rather deal with someone with a less hideous track record?
Oh, and that email address. I'm not going to give Patt any gratuitous publicity but if you're one of the ones who's lost out to him in the past and want to contact him let me know and I'll gladly pass it on.
Since this was written I have learned (14th December 2008) from reliable sources that part of the text that Patt is using to promote his tour has simply been copied word-for-word from a rival tour operator's website, and he has even hijacked a photo from the site - of course without the photographer's permission. Maybe that specialist knowledge that he boasts about isn't as extensive as he would have us believe.
Judging from the postings on various internet news groups it seems that Mr. Patt (of Globe Steam infamy) may be offering his slide collection for sale and also attempting to run private tours. All this under various 'nom de plumes' as he did before. Think very carefully before parting with any of your hard earned cash and if you haven't done so yet, then please read what follows (this paragraph added 25th February 2008).
The Globe Steam website has now vanished (3rd November 2007), please if you have any money owed to you by Mr. Patt / Globe Steam please read the following as a matter of urgency.
The Globe Steam story seemed to have gone to ground, but on 28th September 2007, I received the following news which is of considerable significance to Patt's creditors:
"Peter Patt declared insolvency July 4th. Obviously this was meant to be his private independence day. This means that all efforts and titles in order to get money back from Patt individually are in vain. Patt is no longer entitled to pay money back to a single private party. As you know, Patt made payments to individual parties after July 4th. All such payments have been illegal and could be recovered by the official receiver in charge of Patt's insolvency, if he found out about such payments. Maybe he will not, because Patt made the payments from Iqbal's account.
I can't tell you at the moment if it is a private insolvency or another insolvency, but most likely Patt declared private insolvency.
In charge of the insolvency is Dr. Wolfgang Schröder, Genthiner Str. 48, 10785 Berlin. Anyone who has claims against Mr.Patt should contact the said address as soon as possible. Unfortunately there is little hope that people affected will see their money back.
I heard hints that at the time Patt declared bankruptcy July 4th there have been at least 8 titles (!) present against him. So my guess is this is a much bigger story than just the Globe Steam part."
If this comes as news to you, please read on:
For those following the Globe Steam story (first mounted on 1st March 2007, see below, latest updates 9th and 24th August 2007), currently I have the names of 10 enthusiasts who tell me they are owed a total of about Euros 22,700 (updated 15th October 2007) for services they have not received. I am not in close touch with all the players and I am a long way from the centre of the action (or lack of it) but there have been further developments which I find disturbing. What I do know is that some of his creditors have received offers of staged payments while at least one (his former UK agent) has been paid almost in full. However, others have received no communication at all, let alone any payment. The failure to deal evenhandedly with all his creditors raises serious concerns about his bona fides, and the preferential payment to one or more creditors to the detriment of the others is illegal under English law. Common sense dictates that the following steps are needed to remedy the situation:
1. A full and complete public statement of the outstanding liabilities of Globe Steam in respect of customers' money owing;
I have always hoped that the current crisis was caused by poor business management rather than any deliberate attempt to defraud. It will be difficult to maintain this optimism if Globe Steam does not move quickly to address the concerns I have described. Currently the Globe Steam telephone number is reported dead, the German language website is promoting a reduced number of tours which I do not see can possibly take place while the English language version is unchanged from sometime back and continues to invite customers to buy from the full range of tours through 2007. Unsatisfactory would be a polite way of putting it.
As of 9th August 2007 the website states in English and German, no comment from me is required:
"No globe steam tours are offered for the time being.
I have since been told by one of the (smaller) creditors that he has been refunded the money owing.
My strong advice remains:
"Do NOT make any payments to Globe Steam/Peter Patt under any circumstances unless and until there is a proper resolution of the current issues."
The original story lines follow. Up till 14th March 2007, no one had managed to elicit a response on the subject from Peter Patt. At that time the Globe Steam website (German language side) was revised to include a statement in German on which at the time I said it was premature to comment. See http://www.globesteam.de/Liebe%20Eisenbahnfans.pdf (link now dead June 2008).
Despite his alleged "personal bankruptcy", he seems to be alive and well and buying steam photographs on Ebay and selling items on this site: http://www.drehscheibe-online.de/news/kleinanzeigen.php3?action=lesen&reaktion=BIETE#3843 (link is dead, note the date here of 8th March 2007!). He is even promoting specialist services on this website - http://reisen-mit-eos.de/Werwowas.htm (link dead by June 2008) - no "'Rent-a-Boy' Wochenenden in Prag" but it casts a new light on the Globe Steam website which offers "If you don't want to pay the single room supplement but nevertheless travel alone, globe steam will surely find a friendly travel mate for you to share a double room with." I have now been told (14th March 2007) of yet another trading name, "Rails and Wings" - http://www.rails-and-wings.de/Uns.htm (link dead June 2008).
I believe that the advertised March Globe Steam China tour has been cancelled and I again appeal to anyone who has paid any money towards this (or any other) tour to get in touch with me at the address at the bottom of this page - so that I can add their names to the list of unfortunates. No names or other information will be made public without your specific consent. A number of people have initiated legal action. I have been told that Globe Steam is not a registered business or company and no one has been able to satisfactorily confirm the declaration of "private bankruptcy". Indeed, one of my contacts (10th March 2007) has done a search of the Berlin section of the official German bankruptcy registry (https://www.insolvenzbekanntmachungen.de/) and can find no trace of either Peter Patt or Globe Steam being declared bankrupt so far. One issue which, to my knowledge, no-one has been able to determine is whether Globe Steam had a 'bond' in the event of business failure (added 12th March 2007). Obviously for anyone pursuing repayment through the courts, the exact position will be important. As always in such cases, 'Chinese whispers' are passing round and there are many rumours which have to be separated from the facts and which I will not quote here except to say I think he may be involved in this organisation too - http://www.dampfloks.net/ (link dead June 2008).
At the time of the (ultimately successful) campaign to get Peter Patt's Globe Steam to pay for its tour in Eritrea in 2004 (for details see below), there were a number of stories circulating about its, at best, slowness and, at worst, failure to repay money owed for tours which were subsequently cancelled (particularly one to Cuba). I did not mention these because I did not know anyone personally affected and had no way to verify them. Now John Day has come public with his experience, circulated through a number of news groups:
"Basically I've been "stiffed" for the full amount of the price of a tour to South Africa, due to run last October (2006), paid for in June and cancelled in August. Since August I have been trying to get my money back through various means, to no avail, and I now understand that Peter has declared "private bankruptcy" in Germany. I am pursuing various angles but hold out faint hope for seeing my 3,711 Euros ever again."
Please get in touch with me and/or John (email john "at" johnmday.ca) if you are in the same situation so we can make all enthusiasts aware of the extent of the problem - your name will not be mentioned in public unless you request it. Meanwhile Globe Steam's website is still active and offering tours and I believe advertisements are still appearing in the enthusiast press. Clearly, your money is at risk if you book on one of their tours. Be warned!
Specifically, can I request anyone who is booked on the advertised Globe Steam tours to China and Zimbabwe to contact me immediately. RD
The paragraphs which follow were written in mid-2005. Amanuel G/selassie wrote to me (and others involved) in August 2006 to say:
"Thank you very much for your relentless efforts to settle amicably the long outstanding bill of the 2000 tour of TN. The issue is settled once and for all. TN has paid 6000 USD and I have written an official letter stating that the bills settled. An official receipt is also send to him. Once again I express my deep gratitude and appreciation for all of you who have contributed in settling the issue. I am very proved to have such reliable friends at my side."
If railway enthusiasm can be described as a 'broad church', then you don't need a Ph.D. from Cambridge to place me firmly on the libertarian (many would say anarchic) left. When I first established these web pages what seems like half a lifetime ago, it was with the express intention of encouraging others to follow my lifestyle, to get out and about and enjoy the last years of 'real steam' at the grass roots. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say I was, at best, naive and the major beneficiaries of the reports I have published have not been my target readership.
I have never been a fan of the group tour or mass tourism in any shape or form and whoever it was who coined the now hackneyed phrases 'take nothing but photographs' and 'leave nothing but footprints' got it absolutely right in my books. In my youthful explorations in south-east Asia in the 1970s, shear economic necessity led me to discover the joys of independent travel, where every day was totally unpredictable, but for every disaster there were many moments of total bliss. Later, even when I had the means to travel in a more luxurious style, I consciously chose not to. Regular visitors to these pages will have read reports of multiple trips to Indonesia, China and Burma in particular which sought to champion the simple life.
My first experiences of group tours for real steam were not calculated to make me repeat the experience. In 1975, I went to Indonesia on what was the first ever such trip. There was no internet in those days, of course, and we blundered round Java and Sumatra for nearly 3 weeks using reports which were inaccurate even when they had been written two years before with an inflexible tour leader who spoke no Indonesian and guides who had no idea of what we wanted. But I have no regrets about the experience as it opened my eyes and the following year I spent 30 days in Java all on my own on what was the best bash I have ever done. It was the start of a 30 year love affair which continues to this day.
It was over 20 years before a very good friend of mine persuaded me, against my better judgement, to join another tour, this time to Cuba. By now I had opted out of regular employment and spent at least 4 months a year chasing real steam wherever it remained. I had been to the island the year before with another friend who was less of a dedicated photographer than I was at the time and I hoped to do better. I certainly got the photographs I wanted to, of course, but with very little thanks to the tour leaders who, after turning up an hour late for breakfast, somehow expected me to follow their dust clouds round the island on some kind of safari rally. Instead, I quietly went off and did my own thing with a few like-minded individuals.
By now real steam was very thin on the ground and after this, I have to say I actually enjoyed group tours to Jordan, Syria, Cambodia, Sabah (East Malaysia), Burma (for the Burma Mines), North Korea and Eritrea. This was the only way to enjoy any kind of steam on railways which I had read about long ago and had always dreamed of visiting. They weren't cheap, but by and large they did the job and the best of them were absolutely excellent - I would have no hesitation in recommending most of the organisers involved.
Somewhere along the way though, things started to go badly wrong in most of the few countries where real steam survived. Too many tour participants, gorged on the photographic feasts available when plastic steam trains performed to order, forgot their roots and began to demand that real steam trains do the same thing. Those who were once impecunious end-of-platform train spotters now had the means to buy their photographs. What started in Cuba soon spread to China. Tour operator after tour operator felt obliged to pay the 'going rate' to keep their customers. At the top end of the market, gullible, ill-informed but well-heeled enthusiasts are now recruited by a mass of misinformation, aided and abetted by magazine editors who can enjoy the free trips generated by their 'advertorial'. 'Fools and their money' are regularly and unceremoniously parted in large quantities. 'Caveat emptor' applies in full, and I leave it to the intelligence of my readers to decide whether my advertisers offer good value for money or not.
At the other end of the market and not just with real steam, more sinister forces have been at work, maybe as a result of the scrabbling for a reducing number of travelling enthusiasts with an eye to a budget. In the autumn of 2004, "Steam in Paradise" who had advertised on my pages for several years, agreed to renew their advertising for the 2005 season. I waited unsuccessfully for nearly six months for payment, by which time they had recruited their 'punters' at no cost to themselves. But that was just small beer. In late 2000, Transnico Tours visited Eritrea. I learned soon afterwards that there had been some contractual difficulties, only very recently did I learn that some 80% of the bill amounting to over U$10,000 remains unsettled more than four years later. Worse even is the fact that they are still refusing to pay now. More recently the Globe Steam group visiting Eritrea in October 2004 left the country with their account with a local travel agency amounting to over Euros 12,000 unsettled. Many months later rather less than one half of the bill was paid in May 2005 and the balance at the end of June 2005 - and that only after intense behind the scenes pressure by a number of people. Such behaviour, whatever excuses are proffered, is totally unacceptable and tarnishes the names of other operators and steam enthusiasts in general. None of those organisations named above will be allowed to advertise here in future and their current advertisements have been removed. I will not do business with such people, ask yourself the question whether you should also............
Not one of us is perfect, we have all done things we have regretted afterwards and would rather not have exposed in public. I am no exception. Indeed, I too accept the tourist dollar, since 1991 I have taken many, many small groups to Indonesia. From the start, I have tried to take the position that I would do nothing that would prejudice either a future tour of mine or the experience of independent travellers to that country. By and large, I have succeeded. Perhaps as a result, Indonesia has remained a refreshingly unfashionable destination and I certainly haven't got rich from my hard work Increasingly, though, I have found it difficult to recruit like-minded individuals as customers. This year 2005, when it is almost too late - although you wouldn't believe it from what is being said in some promotional material which is at best optimistic and at worst downright misleading and inaccurate - there are far too many tours on offer to Java; few if any will make a real profit and the effect of such exposure in future years makes me shudder. How many of 2005's visitors and their leaders will have any real interest in anything beyond the steam locomotives and having a 'good holiday'? How many will have the time and patience to wait for a real steam locomotive to do its job without reaching for their wallet? Judging from what I have seen in China recently, not very many.