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Simpson Millar’s Nick Harris tackles Thomson on C4’s SuperScrimpers

Simpson Millar’s Head of Travel Nick Harris has taken part in Channel 4’s popular TV programme SuperScrimpers, advising consumer journalist Harry Wallop on a case involving Thomson holidays and three holidaymakers whose end-of-season October break to Turkey turned into a holiday nightmare.

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Michael Rowe, 65, and his friends booked a two-week holiday to the Beldeniz Hotel at Olu Deniz and arrived to find they were among just a handful of guests as the holiday season was ending.

The hotel was also undergoing rebuilding works and builders were camped out in the foyer and helping themselves to the kitchen facilities, say the holidaymakers.

The chef had also been sent home and the friends found the restaurant closed and the promised family entertainment at the hotel non-existent.

Mr Rowe’s holiday companions, the Trinders, also claimed some of the builders were acting as chefs and waiters, as well as carrying out demolition work on site – with contractors cooking breakfast for guests.

A meeting with the hotel management at their "friendly hotel" turned into a frightening experience for Mr Rowe and Mr and Mrs Trinder, who allege the manager was aggressive and unsympathetic. The holidaymakers say they were told nothing would change at the hotel and if they did not like the arrangements, they could leave.

The Thomson rep in resort was apparently "very nice", but unable to help them. The three holidaymakers were left "stranded" at the Beldeniz for their two-week break, unable even to buy a bottle of water, as the hotel bar was being demolished.

Apart from a few other guests at the start and end of their two-week break, they were alone at the hotel, which closed for the season the day after their departure for home.

The trio wrote six letters to Thomson between them and at first were offered £200 and then £300 each – they had spent more than £600 each on their two-week, two-star B&B break.

SuperScrimpers consumer champion Harry Wallop – who also writes for The Daily Telegraph – took on Thomson and its parent company TUI, which eventually wrote back saying that any end-of-season lack of facilities was covered in Thomson’s terms and conditions.

Nick Harris of Simpson Millar advised that the description of a holiday in a holiday brochure is an inducement to buy and constitutes a contract, which in this case Thomson had failed to deliver.

Mr Rowe and Mr and Mrs Trinder have lodged a small claims petition for full reimbursement of their holiday cost.

Thomson is currently reconsidering the case and said it was unable to comment further until its legal team had completed its review.

Holidaymakers on package breaks are covered by the Package Travel Regulations 1992.

Tour operators must inform holidaymakers of any change in quality of the accommodation beforehand – and offer accommodation of a similar quality to the holiday booked.

However, if unacceptable changes are made to a holiday before departure, holidaymakers should cancel the booking and push for a full refund.

Nick Harris – who is one of the UK’s leading travel lawyers – advises holidaymakers whose holidays turn into nightmares to collect as much evidence as possible while in resort, including statements from other holidaymakers, photos and video evidence to strengthen their case.

If tour operators are reluctant to respond to letters of complaint, holidaymakers should consider contacting a firm of travel claim solicitors for more advice, says Nick.

The case was settled-out-of court as it resumed at the High Court on Tuesday (10/07/12).

Dated: 02/08/2012

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