The five-star Retallack Resort near Newquay is one of Cornwall’s best water sports centers, where guests are accommodated in self-catering lodges with glass fronts overlooking a lake, and Ian Tomlinson and his family were looking forward to it. spend their summer vacation.
However, when they arrived after a four hour drive, they were told there was no record of the booking he made through online travel agency Booking.com six months earlier. There was also no possibility of integrating them. Booking.com, alerted to their plight, sent an email reassuring the family that it had found a similar alternative for them – in Uxbridge, a London suburb near Slough. The email said he hoped they were having a good day.
“Uxbridge was 250 miles away and no one would pick a place to vacation,” Tomlinson said. “I had two very tired and upset children looking forward to all of the resort’s attractions, including a FlowRider wave machine for surfing, and my wife was in tears. We weren’t having a good day.
Demand for holiday accommodation in the UK has skyrocketed this summer as Covid-19 restricted overseas travel. Tomlinson is just one of the travelers who said they were left behind and out of pocket when bookings confirmed by online travel agents turned out to be illusory.
Tomlinson’s premier destination includes a water park, floating volleyball court, wave pool, and wakeboarding. The ‘similar’ alternative to Uxbridge was a hotel with an 18-meter swimming pool and sauna.
His first attempts to contact Booking.com by email and phone were unsuccessful. The email went unanswered and the phone line went down. The family has returned home. “Fortunately, we had not yet paid for the hotel, but we have run out of money to buy gasoline and prepaid tickets for the Eden Project,” says Tomlinson. “In addition, we lost the vacations we had spent all year looking forward to.
When it finally received an email 11 days later, Booking.com claimed the hotel had overbooked and would consider reimbursing its expenses, but would not provide any compensation for unhappy children. Hotel owner Aria Resorts accuses Booking.com. “Unfortunately, it appears that the reservation was not confirmed correctly via Booking.com in our reservation system, ”said a spokesperson. “We had no further contact from Booking.com regarding this client’s concerns.
After Guardian Money got in touch, Booking.com reimbursed the cost of gasoline and tickets for Project Eden and paid £ 700 in compensation, but declined to explain how the error occurred. “In exceptional circumstances where a property is unable to accommodate a guest, we always seek to rectify this immediately and will work with that partner to ensure that all future guests have a good experience,” said a door. -speak.
Another Booking.com customer, Helen Mundler, was stuck with her husband and their luggage in London late at night after a problem with their reservation at Park Grand, Paddington Court. When they arrived at 10:30 pm, she said, “All the lights were out and there was no sign of life… Eventually I discovered a note on the door saying the hotel was closed for maintenance.
The couple, who had booked for four nights, had to visit nearby hotels until they found one with a spare room at more than twice the price of their original reservation. They say they haven’t received any response from Booking.com. The company has since reimbursed their additional charges, but neither it nor the hotel responded to a request for comment.
Vacationers who booked through other sites also found themselves stranded and cashed out after finding that their hotel was unavailable. Hannah used the online agent Hotels.com to book four nights at the Ramada hotel in Solihull. She arrived after a three-hour drive to find it had been designated as a government quarantine hotel and couldn’t admit it. She said she couldn’t get a hold of Hotels.com by phone or online chat and was forced to find alternative accommodation and pay an additional £ 324. Hotels.com eventually agreed to reimburse her for the initial cost of the hotel and gave her an £ 80 voucher as compensation, but she was still £ 324 out of pocket. After pressure from Guardian Money, he covered his losses in full.
“We are very sorry to hear that on this occasion the customer had a bad experience with us,” said the spokesperson for Hotels.com. “Unfortunately, the hotel did not inform us that it no longer accepts reservations until the day after the customer’s stay.
Alex Forrest and his family took an eight-hour trip from Stockport to Devon before discovering that the chalet they had booked had been sold six months earlier. The booking agency Marsdens Devon Cottages had continued to send updates, including instructions for the key safe, the day before their planned stay.
Marsdens, which is part of Original Cottages, promised an investigation and that was the last time Forrest heard about it. The company refunded the booking and added £ 1,200 in compensation and £ 400 in vouchers after the Guardian intervened. He declined to explain how the error occurred. “We are currently reviewing our processes to make sure this does not happen again,” said a spokesperson.
Online Travel Agents (OTAs) have an ambiguous legal relationship with customers, making it difficult to know where to complain or request a refund if something goes wrong. The fine print tends to emphasize that the contract is between the customer and the travel supplier and that the booking agent cannot be held responsible for any shortcomings.
This is true when it comes to the quality of the accommodation, but if the OTA botches a reservation, they are responsible for it, explains Gary Rycroft, partner of Joseph A Jones & Co. “The OTA has a legal responsibility for the validity of the reservation. and an obligation to keep the consumer informed if he cannot proceed for any reason, ”he said. “If they don’t, the consumer should have the right to claim any direct loss such as travel expenses and other accommodation under the Consumer Rights Act, regardless of what the terms and conditions say. . “
Rycroft says disappointed customers should always send a “complaint letter” first, setting out to the OTA what they intend to claim and giving them a time frame for a response. “If that doesn’t work, you can claim through the small claims track,” he adds.
Main tourist attractions: Cornwall v Uxbridge
Surfing and water sports on a choice of 12 sandy beaches.
The blue reef aquarium has an underwater tunnel through a coral reef reservoir featuring hundreds of tropical marine species.
Sea safari and fishing trips from the historic port.
Cornwall Aviation Heritage Center offers an aerial tour of the coast.
The Eden project represents environments around the world in giant biomes.
The Battle of Britain Bunker is the only original RAF Battle of Britain fighter group operations room open to the public.
Hillingdon Sports and Recreation Complex is a restored 1930s lido with waterfalls at either end of a 50-meter pool.
Denham National Park has 28 hectares (69 acres) of greenery, including river and canal paddling opportunities.
Hunting fun takes you on a free code and clue trail around city sights.
The Pavillons shopping center – Primark, Wilko, Iceland and many more!