Twisted History Tours ghost of its former self

Customers allege tour scam


Chad Perry and Amanda Hourrant waited 30 minutes for their Twisted History tour guide to meet them at the Haller Fountain Monday afternoon before giving up.

The Tacoma couple, who paid $50 online for tickets for their Feb. 3 tour, are the latest in a string of customers who say they’ve been bilked.

Twisted History, a tour company that once took Port Townsend’s visitors on a journey through downtown’s most haunted locations has gone dark. Online reviews allege it’s a scam: unwitting tourists book online and once the day and time comes no tour guide shows up to the designated meeting place, with no way to get a refund.

Online reviews as recent as May 2019 detail amazing and fun experiences, but the theme of being stood up and not getting a refund is replacing earlier positive comments.

Multiple efforts to reach owner Geoffery Gardner since Jan. 22 for comment have been unsuccessful.

“They are complete frauds who book tours online, take your money, and tour guides never show up,” Connie Cox wrote on the company’s Facebook page in January this year.

“If you want a dead tour, book this one. It’s dead all right!” Marcy B. wrote on Yelp, an online review site, in June 2019.

Twisted History Tours began operating in Port Townsend in 2012 as a pedal taxi. In Oct. 2018, a Leader reporter attended its “Downtown Dare” tour and wrote about it, but since then it seems the tours have stopped altogether.

Perry said they had planned their trip months in advance for Hourrant’s birthday. He said he had seen the online warnings but still decided to try booking through the company’s website because he thought the tour looked like a lot of fun.

“When we got in the car I said to Amanda, ‘I give this about a 40% chance of actually happening,’” Perry said.

Twisted History’s problems have started to rub off on other downtown businesses.

Molly Thompson of the Silverwater Cafe said people began to show up at the restaurant complaining they had been ripped off. When she and others tried to contact the business, the number displayed on Google was disconnected, she said.

For a while, posters around town and on the Twisted History Tours website advertised a “haunted food and drink” tour. For $140 per person, interested parties could book a two-hour tour to local restaurants like Alchemy Bistro and Wine Bar, The Cellar Door, Old Whiskey Mill and the Silverwater Cafe.

Thompson said she has only been aware of this tour actually taking place once or twice and it was never coordinated or arranged with the restaurant. Gardner would show up with a large party of people and act as normal customers. But over the past year people showing up looking for reimbursement after being ghosted became fairly common.

“Stolen money! Nobody showed up. $300 for a dinner tour that wasn’t even booked at the restaurant! What a scam,” Eileen H. wrote on Yelp in August 2019.

Tracy Stafford, bar manager at Alchemy has experienced the same thing. The tour took place a couple of times but eventually people were showing up asking for refunds, and the staff never knew what to tell them other than the restaurant was not at all associated with the tour.

Thompson said after so many people kept coming, the Silverwater started displaying a sign that stated they were not affiliated with the tour and urging people to report the business to the Sheriff’s Department.

“We are not affiliated with this group in any way. Any reservations made through them are not being made with us, and any payments being made to them are not coming to the restaurant,” the sign stated.

To date no formal complaints of fraud against the business have been lodged with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office or the Port Townsend Police Department, but there are five complaints listing the same charges on the Better Business Bureau website with the most recent dated Nov. 2019.

Port Townsend Police Chief Mike Evans said if anyone believes they have been the victim of a theft or fraud by this company they should come forward with any information. 

According to the active business license for Twisted History Tours, it is owned by local Geoffery Gardner, known by his nickname Grymm. He’s a familiar face to some residents as he often walks around town wearing steampunk-style garb and carrying a walking stick with a shrunken head.

Repeated attempts to contact Gardner or other representatives of the business beginning Jan. 22 were unsuccessful, including emails, phone calls to the number listed online and Facebook messages to the company and Gardner’s personal page.

Calls to one number listed on the company website were answered by two women who said  they operated an office to take tour bookings and reservations for the company but refused to identify themselves beyond their first names.

The women said the only way to contact the owner was through the disconnected number or the Facebook page. When told the number was disconnected, they said it must have only recently been disconnected and would not answer questions about the business, how to contact the owner or how the company operated.

Direct questions about the scam allegations were not answered. Online reviews detail being ‘given the runaround’ when placing calls to the number asking where the tour guide was.

On Monday, Perry called the same number after waiting 20 minutes for his tour and spoke with a third woman who, after two long holds, said they would process a refund back to his credit card that would come within three to five business days. 

Perry said if he does not receive the refund he will be contacting the police.