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Companies customer service Complaining about customer service Holidays and transport

Not got the holiday you booked? What to do

When the holiday doesn’t deliver what you requested and paid for

AdamMelanieMeet Adam and Melanie.  Nice couple, they were getting married and booked their honeymoon on Sunmaster. Heard of Sunmaster? I’d never heard of Sunmaster. I won’t be using them now I have heard of them now either!

Booking a holiday

This is a very good example of misrepresentation and not supplying what you paid for.

Now, Adam booked the holiday via their website. Paid for it then was notified it cost a bit more, which he duly paid. (No, I would not have done this but keep reading and you’ll see why!) That was bad. Then it got worse. Although he booked the holiday in July last year for a holiday in April, Sunmaster contacted him to say… that they could no longer go on the accommodation that they had booked and offered an alternative. Oh well these things happen you might say. Well, maybe if the company had offered a refund or a like for like accommodation. But Sunmaster refused to refund and said that the alternative was like for like. You make up your mind whether it was like for like!

The original holiday booking

Small hotel (Riad), only 6 rooms
No children allowed policy
Included Spa facilities
Suite over 2 rooms

The alternative holiday offered

Large hotel, over 100 rooms
Advertised as a family resort, targeted towards families
No spa facilities
Apartment

Don’t know about you but I think “No children allowed” and “Family friendly” are opposite ends of the spectrum?! I would certainly want the “No children allowed” option with the exception of my own child but it would appear that this is impossible to get 🙁 Also, I don’t think you needs a maths degree to work out that there’s quite a difference between 6 and over 100 rooms.

Not given the holiday paid for

Well, Adam didn’t like this at all. So he challenged it and got told again no refund no other alternative. But you’ll never guess what happened when Adam decided to start his own investigation?! He contacted the hotel directly and not only was it open, it also had his booking. So what on earth was all this about? Adam tried to find out and Sunmaster apologised for the mistake with no explanation for what happened and the holiday went ahead. He complained again but got no response.

But Adam contacted me. And me? Well I don’t like this sort of behaviour do I? It’s is not good for the consumer. Time to make a stand for consumer rights! Again. “I’ll get a response”. The Complaining Cow had spoken! Adam and Melanie went on their honeymoon and had a lovely time other than a nightmare transfer. Meanwhile I got to work carrying out one of my services.

couple walking along beach

The Complaining Cow challenges Sunmaster

Well, first things first. Although Adam and Melanie didn’t actually complain about the rise in the cost of the holiday, I did! I pointed out that it was my belief that it was a breach of the Misrepresentation Act 1967.  I also pointed out that there are many reviews on many forums and review sites saying a similar thing, that one goes through the process online then ‘phones to book whereupon they are told that the price has gone up. Whilst I am aware that prices can fluctuate they do not and should not change within minutes of following an online process/database the same as with any other travel agent where you can complete the whole process online. In this case it was even worse as they had paid for the holiday. They were charged an additional £48.60. This seems a very dubious practice to me and I also found that the Advertising Standards Authority had instructed Sunmaster “…to hold evidence to substantiate the availability of their holidays at the advertised prices”. It would appear Sunmaster  is not doing this. A contract is concluded when one pays (or agrees to pay) and the seller gives you your goods or services. This is called consideration. This puts Sunmaster in breach of contract to supply a holiday to them. For this we claimed legally owed compensation.

Secondly. It was not a like for like property was it for crying out loud?! Clear breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. (For services after October 1st 2015 use the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Interestingly the alternative accommodation was  just short of half the price for ten days on various holiday websites and staff should certainly not have insisted on no refund given the breach of Laws as it was also in breach of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992. (PTPHPT) Regulations 12 and 13 refer to alterations in the package holiday or to departure times or location. (For bookings after July 1st 2018 quote  the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018).

Thirdly. I wanted some answers regarding why the accommodation was changed in the first place!

Fourthly. In the last correspondence from Sunmaster a member of staff said “I have demanded a thorough and full investigation and explanation from our suppliers for this mis-information and I shall contact you further in this regard and in due course.” This was not the case as no further communication had been received. (That’ll be another breach of the SOGASA).

Fifthly. (Is that really a word?) On arrival Adam and Mel found cause to complain again at the appalling administration and service from Sunmaster. To cut another long story short the taxi transfer was dreadful, getting lost, asking for payment and delaying their stay by several hours.

Finally! So, outlining all this and threatening to take Sunmaster to the Small Claims Court I added the details of time spent on the matter, the ignorance shown, and the relevant bodies to be notified if satisfactory redress was not received.

Requested amount as redress for holiday not provided

£48.60  difference in quoted and paid price
£35 court fees
£20 Court expenses ( travel)
£250 for loss of earnings due to contacting Sunmaster
£35 transfer costs
£25 for loss of holiday due to taxi failures
£50 for loss of enjoyment of holiday due to start/taxi failures
£200 for inconvenience and stress
£200 costs for witnesses (those who have gone through similar experiences with Sunmaster)
£100 for costs incurred whilst researching possibility of cancelling/postponing the wedding.

Total £963.60

Sunmaster response to the complaint about the holiday

Well. Despite emailing the CEO there was no response. Fine – see you in court Sunny Jim and emailed him a second time and gave him seven days. That email was effective and got a response. Offered £410, oh and all the gumph about terms and conditions (remember these can be challenged!) and they didn’t think they had breached any laws. I disagree but Adam and Melanie were pleased with their £410, the holiday cost just over £1000. BUT! One had to laugh, the response referred to Melanie with a different unknown surname, neither maiden or married names. So, I know I advise not to be sarcastic in complaints there are times when sarcasm just has to be used.

Counter response from us to Sunmaster not accepting their offer

I included some nice lines I thought. “I do not know what relevance your conversations with a “Miss Hunter” have on my case. Whilst I thank you and accept the offer of £410 I am concerned that the offer you are making includes a sum to a “Miss Hunter” we are not prepared to share any goodwill gesture with anyone else.” “I expect to receive details about your investigation into the transfer in due course” A few other lines about not addressing some points and not believing they had truly looked at a satisfactory amount for redress.

Result of the Sunmaster complaint

Cor, this is a long post innit? I have cut quite a lot of detail you know, stop complaining. One of the main reasons people don’t complain is because they don’t have the time and it does take time, particularly if you are researching all your legal rights. Anyway, the short story – £710 (everything asked for minus associated court costs). I think we had them worried don’t you?! So 10 day holiday in Marrakech for 2 for just over £300 🙂

Companies can learn a lot from this story, as the Internet becomes more and more popular for booking holidays, sites like Trip Advisor and other reviews sites and people like me around advising people of their legal rights, companies would be better placed getting it right in the first place.

Oh and Adam and Melanie told me I was “Awesome“. So, should you be getting a raw deal or you are from a company that would like to look at improving your service and increase sales see The Complaining Cow Services.

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

Or buy the book which will give you masses of information, advice tips and templates on getting refunds and redress for yourself! Check out the reviews!

 

 

 

See  All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights/travel for more on complaining about holidays etc.

You can contact the CEO of any company using ceoemail.com which provides contact details for all CEOs.

Categories
Companies customer service Complaining about customer service Complaining about faulty goods

7 Questions you should ask yourself if you don’t complain!

It’s National Consumer week. A good time to ask “Why Complain?”

Because it’s fun! Well it can be. Nothing the British like more than a good complain. Or is it a moan? Well there’s the difference I feel. Complaining effectively gets results and it is about consumer rights. Your rights as a consumer.

I don’t waste time looking for things to complain about. I don’t waste time complaining about trivial things (oh ok sometimes just for a laugh but rarely) and I don’t make up complaints. So don’t accuse me of doing so.  I am effective complainer what type of complainer are you?

So, to those of you who accuse the complainers of wasting their life, making things up and only after freebies I ask you these questions.

1) If you have a bad meal do you just accept it?

You do? FOOL. You legally don’t have to accept it. Rather than causing a scene or complaining in writing later you think just putting it down to bad luck makes you better than the complainer? Really? I complain – I get a voucher and I go back. Win win situation for restaurant and me. Your way, you don’t go back, lose lose or is that just “LOSER”?!

2) If you buy something faulty do you keep it?

WHY?! Do you take it back and get a replacement when you don’t trust the product any more and you’d like to buy a different one but you accept it because you don’t want to assert your legal rights or perhaps you don’t know them? I buy something faulty I get my money back, buy what I want and get redress on top if I have been inconvenienced in anyway or if anything else has been damaged in the process of using the item. How is that wasting my time or not having a life? I’ve improved it. You are stuck with something you don’t want.

3) You say you don’t have time to complain?

No, I don’t really, but that’s why I claim for my time. Simples.

Only once have I ever thought I would rather not have had to complain. I let out my flat and about 3 years ago a washing machine leaked in the flat above. Twice! My tenant was basically without a usable kitchen for 18 months. I was lucky he didn’t leave. AVIVA staff were appalling as were the contractors to do the work. The printed off email correspondence was over an inch thick. I think I’d still be getting the work done now if I hadn’t had to complain nearly every day. I did get about £800 and I have no idea what that works out as an hourly rate, but even I would rather have just had good service!

Still want to insult the complainers? Need more convincing?

4) Don’t you want to improve things for other people? Are you selfish?

Many of my complaints have resulted in companies changing policies, the way they do things, retraining staff etc. That improves service to all. I am undertaking a public service I feel! Look at what Chris has achieved through his dreadful experience. Three years on and at last Scottish Provident is making changes. He continued his complaining even after eventually receiving redress. If you use life cover in the future with any company, you look at that article and thank him!

There are more examples of how complaining and spreading the word helps too!

5) Are you a person of principle?

Look at my taking Tesco to court. Now, some people think it was a poor return for the money. It was the principle of the thing!! They took my money! In fact the legal process was very quick, it was trying to sort it before that took the time! I’ve had lots of people say they had problems with the Tesco vouchers and they just let it go. Hopefully now, after raising the profile of consumer power people will come to me if it happens again this Christmas. Then, I’ll put the case together and they can all go as one case, time saved, money back. I wonder just how many people lost money last year and didn’t complain? Do you think that’s right? It’s okay for a large company to make money from people who can’t won’t complain? I flipping well don’t and you can call me all the names under the sun, I think I was right to do what I did.

Then there’s the hobby…

6) Can you enjoy it?

When I’m doing the actual complaining I’m frequently quite annoyed (hence as in my tips I rarely doing it in person) but I know I’ll get redress, often it’s of interest guesstimating how much I will get and whether I will be complaining again about their reply. So, call it a hobby, just like writing up my complaints on here is,(which incidentally is sharing experience and advice so helps people!) like any blog writer.

So, a hobby. Do you have a hobby? My hobby takes up a little time and costs me no money. I don’t do sport, it avoids sporting injuries. But I don’t have a go at people for their hobbies so don’t have a go at me for mine I say!

Still think I’m the fool for complaining?

7) Would you want people to have poor care?

My father was in hospital for 6 weeks just over two years ago before he died. The treatment he received was appalling. I didn’t want any family to go through what we did or any patient to endure what he did. At times like that people don’t want to complain. That is understandable and I get that, but I wanted to change things for other people. This wasn’t about asserting legal rights, getting money or anything like that. It was about making change happen. I wrote 8 pages of 48 bullet points about his care and a 2 page letter to go with the log. I received back a 7 page letter. This is copied from the letter they sent:

“In conclusion the following will or has been addressed:
Share the complaint with the ward
Review how pain control is managed including training
Review documentation
Arrange training on oral care
Ensure staff know the procedure on escalation if patient dependency is higher than staffing levels can manage
The requirement to inform relatives if a patient falls
Ensure staff work with patients/relatives to complete adult  assessment forms
Improve communication on the ward”

Often people say all they want is an apology. That is very true and we got a lot of sincere apologies in that letter too.

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Other thoughts on complainers?

So, complainers don’t have a life? Are sad? Have too much time on their hands? You remember that when you have your bad meal, had to fork out for a bad service, are stuck with a faulty item and you are out of pocket for something. You remember that when you are able to get a decent life cover policy. You remember that when your Tesco vouchers work this year. You remember that when you have an elderly relative in a hospital in Somerset where the care was good. Perhaps it was because someone took the time to tell the powers that be of problems that they didn’t know about so they could put them right.

Still not convince complaining is a good thing?

So, who still thinks they are better for not complaining? Would love to hear your reasons for not doing any of the above that I and people like me have done. I love a good argument. Provide a good argument for not complaining in the way I do and I’ll publish it. (But don’t think I won’t argue with you!) Alternatively, join in sharing your successes, that’s what I like to see!

Help with complaining effectively

 

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Need help? GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer will help you develop skills to become better at complaining

Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow BBC Breakfast TV Discusses How We Complain in the UK

5 top tips for complaining effectively