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September 16, 2010


Crazy Eddie

Nice statist comments from several people on here. Their gist is that the government knows best and you'd better be peddling only the history that they want you to peddle! This IS a free speech issue. If somebody, for instance, wanted to give a tour of Washington DC that had a conspiratorial theme, wouldn't the issue of accuracy be between them and their customers? Who is harmed by this? Some people might enjoy a fantastic X-files version of a DC tour. A FREE MARKET will handle those who do a poor job giving tours or who are misinforming the public (or boring them, for that matter). They'll get bad reviews, and tourists will choose somebody else!

John Gilmore

As a guide WITHOUT A LICENSE, you can't say whatever you want. That's the constitutional angle. The government can't require you to get a license to speak.

I love it how all the insiders are posting because they're mad that they had to jump through this hoop, and now maybe anybody can be a tour guide without the hoop. It's the standard rationale for occupational licensing -- "I got here first, and now I'm using the government to keep out the competition." Even when the competition is Segway tours that won't pay "what guides can get elsewhere". Think some of the unemployed people in DC might want to become guides, reducing "what guides can get elsewhere"? It's called a free market with competition. Get used to it, it's on its way back.

Jessica L.

As a licensed tour guide who not only paid the $200 to get my license, but paid over $2,000 for an extensive tour guide course to ensure that I was giving accurate information to guests of Washington DC, I am appalled by the audacity of the Segway Tour Company to even consider this litigation.

The test is not that difficult for anyone considering this kind of career, and ensures some sort of standard for visitors to the Nation's Capitol. In fact, I have been on many a tour where Segway guides have been giving out the WRONG information to visitors and would never encourage anyone to take their tours if they wanted any accurate and factual information about Washington, DC.

I say, instead of wasting your money on suing DC, try training your guides with actual information and encouraging them to take the test if they want to be a member of your organization. That's just a standard for professional guides.


Let me say this: the DC test at least assures some knowledge. The litigation, which is allegedly based on violations of the tour guides' "free speech" rights is on specious grounds. The problem is that Segway Tours wants the freedom to hire guides at rock bottom prices. There are plenty of licensed guides who would work for them if they paid what guides can get elsewhere. They pay rock bottom and can't get licensed guides. So, the lawsuit is all about money for the tour company and not about the alleged "free speech" rights of guides.

The DC Government has never told licensed guides what to say. In fact, the tour companies, including Segway, are more likely to give their guides a script to follow so that all tours are pretty much the same.

Finally, the tour guide test has been around for years. If anything, the new regs make it easier to get a license. If Segway doesn't want to hire licensed people, they should move their business elsewhere. It is too bad that Segway doesn't want to pay for temporary employees to pass the test--or see its value. That is a business decision and they are free not to operate in DC if they so choose.

The litigation is specious and silly and DC should recover legal fees from Segway--and not the other way round.

DC should also begin to enforce the license requirement. It could start by handing out tickets to all the Segway "guides".

Captain Kirk

I once had to take a test to get a chauffeur's license in the District. The test asked 10 questions about things like "Where is the Franciscan Monastery" and "What is the address of the Kennedy Center". The questions didn't ask the things you needed to know to do the job, like about the labyrinthine regulations to purchase and post the weekly permit stickers you had to buy from DC to legally operate your vehicle, or how to get to Union Station when the @#$#! traffic has gridlocked the city. I wonder if the tour guide questions include things like "Where did Fanne Fox jump into the Tidal
Basin?". Seriously, they probably should ask questions like "Do you know how to do CPR?" and "Where is the nearest hospital to downtown?", and "What are the rules about operating a Segway on the sidewalks of DC?".

Tim Krepp

As a DC Tour Guide, I'm conflicted as to whether tests and licensing are good policy. I don't think they do a stunning job of ensuring a quality guide. And I think they can serve to make it more difficult to hire guides. But that is a determination that should be made through the DC Council and legislative process, not the courts.

I really don't get the Constitutional angle here. I can say whatever I want as a guide. I might not get business if I make stuff up, and my professional reputation would suffer, but there is no legal issue with what I say. You have to demonstrate a base level of knowledge to get your license, but there's nothing that prohibits you from telling your visitors the President lives in the Capitol (or whatever).

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