Antique Tour Reviews - The Cheeky Mare

The Iron Swan (formerly The Cheeky Mare)

Antique Tour Reviews - The Cheeky Mare
User Rating: 2.3 (18 votes)

Antique Tour Reviews – The Iron Swan (formerly The Cheeky Mare)

Tour Location: England, France, Belgium

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One thought on “The Iron Swan (formerly The Cheeky Mare)

  1. I have been an antique dealer in Atlanta, Georgia for 12 years. I have taken more than 20 European buying trips.
    This past January, I took a guided antique shopping tour of France/Belgium/Holland offered by antique dealer/tour operator, Tammy Strop, from outside of Austin Texas with her company The Cheeky Mare, which has since changed names to The Iron Swan. Six dealers were on the tour and four of us left early because of displeasure with the tour.
    – Tammy Strop, our trip leader, told me the tour started in France. I made arrangements to meet the tour there. I called Tammy three days before the trip to ask a last minute question. During this call I discovered she was actually in the airport with all the other dealers and they were flying over together that night and going to Belgium first.
    – I continued with my original plan to meet the tour at the Chartres train station. I landed in Paris. After a two hour cab and train ride ($120) I arrived at the Chartres train station. I spent two hours waiting for Tammy, and constantly calling her from the train station. When she finally picked up the phone, she said she had never agreed to meet me at Chartres and I should meet the tour at the hotel. I paid an additional $60 taxi to get to the hotel. Other dealers who were in the van with her, told me she was aware I was calling and chose to not pick up the phone.
    – After buying only one piece of furniture during our two day trip in France, I was told I could not buy any more furniture in France because the truck was full. Tammy had bought multiple pieces for herself the previous day and that day. She never warned the group of any volume problem, but suddenly announced that we could no longer buy.
    – I was told all packing was included in the trip. However, there was never anyone packing our things at the antique fairs and we had limited to no packing supplies… just a guy with an empty van or truck. After expressing my displeasure with the packing situation, she promised me multiple times that all my things would be repacked in the warehouse before they were shipped on the container. My items were never repacked.
    – Tammy rushed us to leave multiple antique fairs before they were over. She claimed we had other places to go, but we would just to go back to the hotel and do nothing.
    – Multiple days we returned to the hotel by 2pm. On the way home we would pass towns where we knew there were shops. She would refuse to take us because she said she does not drive in cities.
    – Tammy shopped stores online before we got there and either bought or put things on hold for herself before we could shop.
    – Tammy refused to stop for meals multiple times. One night I begged her to stop as we passed a restaurant. I offered to take a taxi home if she would drop me off. Instead of doing a U-turn, she pulled over on the side of the highway and told me to get out. Three of us got out and had to walk on the side of a highway to a restaurant that was not even open yet. Another night without informing us, she took the van and went out to dinner with one dealer and left the five other dealers to walk to a deli a half mile away to get soup.
    – Tammy Strop called people names (called two of my friends a “bitch” to their face.)
    – Tammy insisted dealers walk to the ATM machine (dealers typically withdraw thousands a day) when multiple locals told the dealers the ATM was not in a safe location.
    – Tammy took the group to numerous shops twice because she did not properly plan the trip and did not have enough locations to shop to fill the tour.
    – We signed up and paid for the France/Belgium/Holland tour and Tammy never took us to Holland.
    – After two days of continuous lies, disrespect of people on the tour, and poor packing of our merchandise, I expressed my displeasure. Tammy offered that I could leave the trip and get refunded. The next day I agreed that I should leave the trip. She immediately begged me to stay. She made multiple promises that everything would be better. I agreed to stay. But eventually I could not take it anymore. She had a huge fight with one of the dealers/new friend of mine and called her a bitch. At that point I had no choice. I left the trip two days early.
    – Tammy promised delivery of all items by early March in time for the dealers who set up at the Round Top Antique Show. The first container arrived early April and the second arrived the last day of April. Being from Georgia, I had to wait for the entire shipment to arrive so I would only incur one shipping cost.
    – Tammy lied about shipment being late because of container ship not being balanced. “I got news this morning that the container has been delayed by a week due to stability issues with the ship. It will not be able to sail on the original vessel. It will now arrive in Houston on March 16 instead of March 8” (email from Tammy on 2/11/16). I called the shipper in Belgium to confirm her story. Said that story was not true.
    – The first container was pulled at random for a Fish and Wildlife inspection. She said “Fish and Wildlife has seized several items from the shipment that contained ivory, different types of shell and feathers. I have been requested to submit the contact information along with the corresponding manifest for the people on the container other than the shipper and importer. You will be notified in writing by F&W of the seizure of these items. Also be aware that F&W doesn’t have a time constraint as to when they can levy a fine for the seized items.” Tammy refused to tell us if we had items seized. She chose to have us all stress out and wait to be notified. Turns out … tiny items were seized. It was not a big deal at all.
    – She lied about existence of a second, even later, container “I was just made aware that a portion of this shipment was not put on this container due to space. It was an oversight by the shippers, Ronny and Philippe – each thinking the other had informed me. However, a second container is scheduled to be on the water approximately March 25 with an arrival date mid April” (email from Tammy Strop on 3/15/16). Again, I spoke to shipper in Belgium. This is a lie. She knew all along there were two containers. I was told by the shippers that the second container was sent later because Tammy was buying items from photos online to try and fill the container.
    – Upon arrival in Texas, Tammy incorrectly sorted everyone’s item. Dealers were given other dealers items in addition to theirs. There was very poor communication and organization in getting these items identified and delivered to the correct dealer.
    – Everyone from our trip had numerous damaged items. Items survived hundreds of years in Europe were destroyed in her poor packing and shipping. I had a bronze chandelier ($1300) crushed because it was placed in a flimsy box the same size as the chandelier with limited fill.
    – Furniture, mirrors and paintings were not wrapped. They had dirty recycled ceiling tiles taped on them as protection. (We were so alarmed by this that one dealer sent the tiles off to be tested for Asbestos.)
    – Tammy takes no responsibility, for broken items. She blamed everything on Fish and Wildlife. “As the importer of record and the tariff being ANTIQUES, we are limited to the type of insurance we can carry. We insure for a complete loss of the container. Our customs broker has reconfirmed that there is no insurance available for antique importers for damage or breakage.” (email from Tammy Strop on 4/9/16). As a tour operator (and not a shipper), this may be true for The Cheeky Mare; however, their shipper should carry insurance for all risks.
    – Two dealers on the trip arrived to pick up their items from her warehouse at an arranged time. They arrived to find their items sitting outside and unattended on a curb.
    – Since I live so far away in Atlanta, I asked Tammy to please inventory my items to make sure all 90 items on my manifest were accounted so I would not have to hire shippers twice. “We will also not do an inventory for you” (Email from Tammy Strop 5/9/16.)
    – Tammy was going to be out of town when my shippers picked up my items from her storage facility. I had two heavy concrete pieces that needed extra men to lift. She claimed she would not assist me in giving me contacts to hire for extra help. I was left with no other option but to call the local police department to ask if they could assist me in finding hourly workers.
    – My shipment arrived from Texas in random dirty/recycled boxes. Nothing was stack-able. Many items were not in boxes or wrapped. If my movers charged me for linear space, it would have cost me a fortune.
    – A few items never arrived and are still missing. All dealers were told by Tammy Strop to “just write it off.”

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