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Friday, December 15, 2017

Heritage Malta: Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum SNAFU And Maltese Bureaucracy

UNESCO World Heritage Site    
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum ('Holy of Holies')
Burial Street
Paola PLA, Malta 1116
Phone: +356 21 805 019
Prices: €€€

Unfortunately, due to a logistical issue, we were unable to arrive in time for our scheduled tour on December 12, 2017 at 1500. We contacted the site directly as soon as we realized the mistake, asking if we could possibly reschedule, having paid €55 for my wife and I to enter. 

The Heritage Malta employee we spoke with refused to reschedule our tour even though there were several open spots over the next two days. We were told to call the main number in the morning to make another request, but leaving the island in less than a day-and-a-half, he told us that we would likely be unsuccessful.

I sent Heritage Malta the following email (full names redacted for privacy and security reasons):
"My wife, who normally has an iron-clad brain when it comes to dates, insisted that our reservation (Order Reference #9***7) was on 13th December 2017 when it had actually been on 12th December 2017 at 15:00 (as we found out his morning).
Having paid €55 and hoping your staff would show some compassion for someone who made an honest mistake, we called the main number for the Hypogeum and asked for forgiveness as well as a substitute reservation. After all, there are several vacancies on the ticketing website before we depart on December 15th and (after all) we did pay the €55 entry fees.
Having said that, I implore you to consider our plea to reschedule either tomorrow or early the day after (9AM) where there are all 10 slots available.
Thank you in advance for your compassionate consideration.
 Transaction Reference: 5******7
Authorization Code 0****D
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- 2 Million+ Visitors Annually ... And Growing"
Here is the uncompassionate, bureaucratic response I received the following day:

From: A. James at Heritage Malta <>
Date: Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 3:26 PM
To: CombatCritic
Subject: FW: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum - Dec 12, 2017 - 1500 Reservation
Dear (CombatCritic), 
Thank you for your email.
Should you have informed us before 12th December we would have been in position to change your date. 
We received your email yesterday. Sorry we can’t refund you back or change the date of your booking
James A.
From: Heritage Malta [] 
Sent: 13 December 2017 12:49
My frustrated reply:

From: CombatCritic
Date: Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 9:47 PM
To: James A. at Heritage Malta <>
Subject: Re: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum - Dec 12, 2017 - 1500 Reservation
Thank you James, but I have not been impressed at all by the customer service we have received from Heritage Malta. We made an honest mistake, admitted to it, and asked for some compassion after having spent €55 to visit an important historic Maltese site and not [having been] able to visit. 
There are exceptions to policies that can be made and with 7 spots available [I attached a screenshot of the 7 available slots on their booking website less than 12 hours later - it was then 9:40PM on 14/12] for tomorrow’s 9AM tour, you could have easily made an exception.

You can read my review about our unfortunate mistake and Heritage Malta’s lack of concern and bureaucratic response to a tourist’s plea for compassionate assistance on my blog:
Have a nice day.

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Unfortunately, because I was unable to visit the Hypogeum and provide an objective review based on my experience, this is a brief synopsis from information obtained from the web for my readers who may or may not visit someday:
* The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground prehistoric burial site. Discovered in 1902 during construction works, the site was first excavated by Father Emmanuel Magri between 1904 and 1906. A complex of interconnecting, three-level chambers cut into the rock, the earliest artifacts dating back over 6,000 years.
The top level has burial chambers on the sides. A doorway leads to the middle level, reportedly containing some of its best known features such as red ochre wall paintings and beautifully carved features found in architectural elements common in other megalithic temples. The deepest level is also known as the ‘Holy of Holies’.
Opened to visitors first in 1908, the microclimate of the chamber has negatively been affected by humans, requiring a conservation project between 1990 and 2000, during which the Hypogeum was closed. Only 10 visitors per hour are now allowed inside during the 8 hours the site is open each day (80 visitors total) and an environmental control system keeps temperature and humidity levels constant, preserving this extremely important and delicate prehistoric site.

Ticket prices for the Guided Tour:
Adults (18 – 59): €35.00
Youths (12 – 17), Senior Citizens (60+), and Students: €20.00
Children (6 – 11): €15.00
Infants (1 – 5): No admission

* Because we were not allowed to change our reservation, this is a synopsis of information about the Hypogeum obtained from Heritage Malta and Wikipedia websites (references below).

CombatCritic Gives Heritage Malta Staff 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My "Wall of Shame"

One Bomb Equates To:
Translation for Civilians: "F****d Up Beyond All Repair"

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Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. Heritage Malta. Retrieved 13 December 2017.

Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum. Wikipedia: Retrieved 13 December 2017.

Title: Heritage Malta: Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum SNAFU And Maltese Bureaucracy

Key Words: Heritage Malta, Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, heritage, Malta, Paola, Hal, Saflieni, hypogeum, SNAFU, Maltese, Bureaucracy, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, historic, site, museum, review

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