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.

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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.

How to write a letter of complaint

Many people say to me they don’t know how to put a letter or email of complaint together. I have provided lots of Tips and regularly give advice on Twitter and Facebook but here’s an example of an email I wrote for  Elaine who writes a testimonial here.

The email below was sent to the CEO of Sharps. They were very poor. The matter was handed down to someone else and the work was undertaken by the date specified. We had to send a further email to request the redress, which she got. £250

Dear Mr Smith

RE: Drawing No: 101513

I am writing to you to express my disgust at the atrocious service we have received from Sharps.

We recently purchased a made to measure set of bedroom wardrobes and units from your company which were delivered to our address on 05/11/2013. Until this point we had received excellent service from your company. The designer Alan and the surveyor also named Alan were both very professional and left us feeling confident that the work would be completed to a high standard and in a reasonable time frame. In order for the work to be completed as scheduled we employed our own builders at our personal expense to carry out the necessary preparation e.g. moving electrical sockets and redecorating to take place to accommodate the wardrobes and units. Our bedroom was cleared of all furniture as instructed by the surveyor, including our bed on the 05/11/13. However since the units were delivered on the 5/11/13 there has been no progress.

After initially being told the installation would take place a few days after the delivery date we were then informed that installation would take place on the 12/11/2012. This was not ideal for us but we were satisfied that at least we had a confirmed date and arranged to take annual leave from work as we were informed installation would take 3 days. However things went from bad to worse.

12/11/13 – No one attended our property to install the wardrobes. A breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. * We did not receive any notification that installation was not going ahead. We telephoned customer services and spoke with Ms Cox who informed us that a colleague had called and left us a message on Saturday (9/11/13) informing us that installation would be delayed until the 13th November. We did not receive any such phone call or message and I am appalled that I was told this. We were informed a fitter would be with us on the 13th between 8 – 9am. As I had taken annual leave from work I had to re-negotiate a change in the annual leave at short notice, again.

12/11/13 At 7:30 pm – I received a call from customer services informing us that a fitter was not available to attend on the 13th but we would be contacted the following morning when they could find a fitter for the 14/11/13 – At such short notice it was obviously hard for me to re-negotiate a change in my annual leave again.

13/11/13 (am) – I received a call from Ms Cox informing us that she was trying to find a fitter for the next day and she would call us back.

Later that day it was left to me to follow up this ‘phone call.  We called the customer service department to find out if a fitter had been arranged and were told “No as it was a very busy time of the year” (wholly irrelevant and this should be planned for especially as we had already been dreadfully treated) and they would contact us the following day for a fitter to attend Friday (15/11/13) and Saturday (16/11/13).

14/11/13 (pm) – I received a call from Ms Cox informing us that she had not been able to arrange for a fitter for the Friday & Saturday but guaranteed a fitter would be with us on the  20/11/2013 between 8 -9am. Again I had to arrange more annual leave for the following week.

19/11/2013 (PM) – I rang customer services to confirm someone would be attending on the 20/11/2013 and were told it was on the system and a fitter would definitely be there between 8am-9am.

20/11/13 @10am – No-one arrived. We rang and spoke to Ms Cox again only to be told that no-one would be available today and we should never have been told someone would be (even though she had guaranteed it the previous week). The earliest date would be Friday 22/11/13; however she would try and find someone for 21/11/2013.

20/11/13 (pm) – I called again to ascertain if a fitter had indeed been found for 21/11/13 and were told by Ms Cox that it would be Friday 22/11/13

21/11/13  (pm) – I called the customer services again to ascertain if a fitter would be attending on Friday 22/11/13 and was told a fitter by the name of John would be with us between 8-9am on Friday 22/11/13.

21/11/13 (9.00am) – A ‘phone call received from Ms Cox asking whether the fitter had arrived. No-one had arrived up to this point. She promised to contact the fitter and then call us back with an update. I had to call back at 09:50am to find out what was going on, unfortunately Ms Cox was unavailable. She returned our call at 10:06 when we were informed that the filter was unattainable and his manager was unaware where he was.

To date we are no closer to an installation date  and are left not knowing when they will be installed.

We are appalled at the service we have received. You are in breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982; you have not provided services of a reasonable standard to which we are entitled. I found Ms Cox’s attitude dismissive and not at all sympathetic to the stress of the constant inexcusable delays, the repeated broken promises, the poor communication, and the inconvenience of having to change and re book leave from my work place at very short notice to accommodate a date for a fitter and of course not having a bed to sleep in for two weeks.

I trust that you will be as appalled as we are with the outrageous service we have received. Sharps is clearly in breach of the aforementioned Act. I am legally entitled to services of a satisfactory standard which should be completed within a reasonable length of time with no inconvenience to us and obviously we have not received this.

I expect to receive redress for the stress and inconvenience caused in addition to the out of pocket costs I have incurred. I have now used up all my leave as I was not able to change all the days I had previously booked. I expect redress for the loss of my annual leave. I earn £xxx a day and lost xxx days due to the errors made by Sharps. I expect this to be reimbursed in addition to an appropriate amount for the inconvenience and stress of the continued delays and being without the furniture.

I expect the furniture to be fitted by Saturday of this week and this is now non negotiable.

If I am not fully satisfied with your response I will not hesitate in taking the matter further which will include, but not be limited to Trading Standards, social media and The Small Claims Court. I will be seeking a full refund, costs as above plus court costs and further costs incurred.

Yours sincerely,

So that is an example of an email that gets results. Factual, clear, dates, times and names. Reference to the relevant Law and details of what you will do if the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction.

She got £200 and the bedroom was fitted by the Saturday!

I’d suggest you don’t use Sharps either.

* For purchases made after 01 October 2015 you would need to use the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

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