Anyone who books a spooky ghost tour can expect some scary surprises.
But many who have gone for an eerie excursion with Edinburgh Horror Tours claim to have been left truly horrified – having waited for a guide who never turned up.
Of the seven reviews left for the firm on the website Trip Advisor, five complained that the host did not appear.
The Edinburgh Horror Tours website claims its tours – Gallows to Grave and Ghost Hunt – run every day of the year, with the exception of a few dates in the festive season.
The firm is promoted on the VisitScotland website.
Nearby tour company Mercat Tours has been compensating bewildered customers by offering them free places.
Head of development Kathleen Brogan described the firm’s conduct as an “embarrassment to Edinburgh”.
She said: “So far we’ve had around 20 customers come to us wondering what’s been going on. And this company is featured on the VisitScotland website.”
Her concerns led her to hold a meeting with the city council and to make a complaint to VisitScotland.
Graham Birse, managing director of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, backed Ms Brogan’s calls for greater regulation.
He said: “If this is the case, VisitScotland should remove them from the Quality Assurance Scheme.
“Poor operators are harmful to the visitor experience and to Edinburgh.”
It is believed Edinburgh Horror Tours began operating in April.
On Trip Advisor one contributor, who booked a tour in August, complained: “Absolutely appalling! We booked online, turned up ten minutes before the tour started and nobody came!” Another said: “We turned up at about 8.40pm for their 9pm tour. After over half an hour of waiting, we called the number on their poster – this was about 9.10pm – and no one answered.”
When the Evening News attempted to contact the Edinburgh Horror Tours through its two telephone numbers, they were not recognised – and we received no reply to our e-mail.
Although the website still offers details of the tours – advising that customers can pay the guide on the night – the facility to pay in advance is no longer available.
It is unclear whether the company has stopped operating.
The city council confirmed that a licence for outside 180 High Street, operated by Steven Owen, expires in June next year.
A VisitScotland spokes- person said: “VisitScotland has received one complaint on this company from Mercat Tours and we advised them to speak to Edinburgh Council about the issue.”
The spokesperson did not respond when asked whether they would now consider removing the page promoting the Edinburgh Horror Tours from the VisitScotland website.
A spokesman for the council said: “We have no complaints being processed in respect of any of the licensed walking tour operators.
“If a complaint was made it would most likely be passed to the police and some cases to the council’s Services for Communities Department for investigation.”