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.

How to Win When EasyJet’s Customer Service Fails

If you are looking for how to complain about delays, cancellations and your rights see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights

The Complaining Cow jumped half heartedly over the moon eventually…

So airlines difficult to get money back from? Yes, on the whole, mainly I think because it’s the same old complaints and they know just how to put people off, the same old excuses churned out and they can afford to lose customers. But I’m here to show you that if you keep to my tips (many of them in this case!) and persevere you can do it! (Added to the fact of course that now, with Social Media and Review sites etc., it is much easier to spread the word about bad customer service).

A friend of mine used EasyJet for a holiday with her family. Whilst there, her mother in Law became seriously ill and they had to fly home. EasyJet wanted to charge £1000 for the flight home. In fact they got it for £700 from an Internet cafe. That was for 4 of them one way on top of what they had paid! They, like I thought that was exploiting the fact that they needed to get home before her Mother in Law died. Bear in mind of course that EasyJet would have sold their existing tickets on for more profit. Had her Mother in Law died whilst they were on holiday they would have had their money refunded. Even I am stuck to put a light hearted spin on that state of affairs!

When they got back Jo complained. As you would expect they got some standard rubbish back about prices and their Price Policy. They did say they would pay back the tax. Generous huh? No. Because they then backtracked on that saying it was a transfer. I disagreed. I also disagreed with them that my friend and her family should have to trawl the Internet with no help from the EasyJet Customer Representative. I disagreed that EasyJet should make a profit on the situation. I disagreed that they should not be compensated for the inconvenience and misinformation they were given. So, being quite a disagreeable soul I took to work.

I would have liked to have made this complaint so many people could see but unfortunately the rather brilliant Dave Carroll got there first in shaming an airline by performing the song that went viral

United Breaks Guitars

Anyway, I can’t sing. So out came the hooves and I reverted to type. Did you see what I did there? Clever pun huh? No? Okay back to complaining.

Now, Jo won’t mind me telling you that her written English is rubbish, her emails informal (kisses I tell you KISSES – is there a sighing emoticon one can use? Insert it here!) and well let’s just say when I sent her my version of a complaint to send to the CEO she said it scared the poo out of her! She may have put it less eloquently…

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, pointing out the error of EasyJet’s ways. I wrote an email for her to the CEO (you can get contact details for any CEO at ceoemail.com) and pointed out the following:

1)    I am fully aware that one takes a risk in flying with a budget airline and can expect to pay more if changes need to be made. However, charging such an extortionate amount more for a different flight I believe is profiteering.

2)    The customer services representative stated that “Sometimes if a flight is not selling as well as expected we would reduce the fare to encourage people to book.” They booked at about 6.00pm for a 10.15am flight the next day. This contradicts what the representative says. There was little time left for people to book and to have 4 tickets available (and there were more) then clearly there was scope for these flights to be cheaper!

3)    The original tickets were approximately £550 including the extras. The actual flights were about £90. They then had to pay an additional £675 (£1000 if booked directly at the desk). Easyjet would presumably have sold the original flight on for at least £675. That makes an additional approximate £1300 profit for Easyjet on top of the original acceptable profit. Nearly 250%! Stunning profiteering I believe!

4)    Easyjet needs to treat all customers equally, so, does that mean it takes advantage of every customer who finds themselves in a difficult situation?

5)    Why should it be cheaper at an Internet cafe trawling through flights than just transferring the flight dates directly with EasyJet!

6)    The representative had offered to refund the tax and this offer was withdrawn as he said that they had transferred the tickets! More contradiction! This is incorrect, they bought new tickets and so they are entitled to at least the tax back. EasyJet even charged again for speedy boarding and baggage – how is THAT is a transfer?!

7)    The correspondence to date was forwarded and the point made that the last email hadn’t even gained a response. (The one of pointing out their contradiction..)

8)    EasyJet’s guidelines on “Refunds and Cancellation fees” state that “In exceptional circumstances, however, EasyJet will consider issuing a credit in the event of the bereavement of an immediate family member provided that the claim and a copy of the death certificate are submitted by post to the EasyJet Customer Services Department.” Not only were they not advised of this by the EasyJet representative, they were not advised of it by any Customer Representative on holiday or in correspondence. With a charge of £30 per customer, totalling £120 I should be refunded the £675 minus £120. A total of £555.

She got her £550 in EasyJet vouchers….

Have you had dealings with EasyJet and other airlines? What’s your experience of their customer service?

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