Hi Folks I booked a 2week holiday for myself, my mum and brother last year to the Grand ventana beach resort in the dominican republic.
There was a string of complaints with the initial booking (wrong d.o.b on travel insurance, names spelt incorrectly on airline tickets etc) which after several calls to the travel agents (and alot of time on hold) finally got sorted out.
The real problem started when we arrived... here are just a few of the problems we experianced
lock on doors (both rooms) were sticky
extractor fan in 1 of the bathrooms did not work
tv arial was broken so picture was very broken
patio door glass was not in frame properly (when reported maintenance man turned up at around 10.30pm and hammered it back into the seal...wait for it..... WITH A PAIR OF PLIERS!!!!!
as the glass was not in the frame correctly moist air made bedding damp
chain on toilet flush broke 5 times in 1 of the rooms and flooded twice
the air conditioning unit appeared to be faulty and there was sticky fluid leaking underneath the nit
we complained to reception countless times (as our first choice holiday rep was nowhere to be seen)and each time they wrote the complaint in the maintenance book and sent somebody up to attempt to rectify the problem, at no point were we offered alternative accomodation and we took photos of the patio doors flooded floor etc etc the holiday was so miserable that we just wanted to return home to the comfort of our own (dry DAMP FREE beds) as our first choice rep was never around one of the thomas cook reps told us that if we stood any chance of getting a flight home we would need to tell our rep that we had an emergancy back home or they would not entertain the idea of putting us on standby. we took the advice of the thomas cook rep and flew home (at an extra cost of about £1500 to ourselfs)
when we returned home we complained straight away and started trying to get compensation (for the price of the holiday minus the week we had stayed for and the cost of flying home) at first we gota letter advising no compensation was due and welcoming us on another first choice holiday.
after being IGNORED for weeks by firstchoice we contacted trading standards who tried for 2 months to resolve the issue on our behalf, after trading standards were left on hold for 49 minutes then HUNG UP ON from first choice customer services they tried to resolve the issue by writing to them, trading standards did not recieve a satisfactory offer and could not believe the poor level of customer service we had recieved so advised me to go to arbitration.
first choice FAILED to respond to the arbitraitors so ABTA have taken on the case for them, the letter we recieved from ABTA today basically said that first choice were denying that we complained or requested any alternative accomodation. And also stating that we have not provided any evidence of the issues. personally i think that complaining countless times to hotel staff and seeing more of the maintenance workers than my family during this holiday and also the countless photos was evidence enough.
has anybody else had asimilar issue with this company as the way the letter is worded its almost as if ABTA are defending first choice here.
any info or help much appreciated cheers
one of the thomas cook reps told us that if we stood any chance of getting a flight home we would need to tell our rep that we had an emergancy back home or they would not entertain the idea of putting us on standby. we took the advice of the thomas cook rep and flew home (at an extra cost of about £1500 to ourselfs)
That is a bad bit of advice. Lying that you had an emergency in order to get back to the UK. I am afraid that is the wrong way to go round the problem.
Whilst i can understand that the events that took place are upsetting and maybe spoiled your holiday, First Choice will have a local representative and you would have had contact details for them, or if you didn't, reception would have.
I think the reason why first choice haven't given you anything is because you didn't give them the chance to rectify the situation in resort. Ok, the rep doesn't visit that hotel but they will have an office you could have gone to or got them to come to you if needed.
The room standards are obviously not what you should have recieved but why should they refund you all that money when they didn't have a chance to put it right in the first instance.
Sorry if this is not the answer you are looking for but if things weren't right then maybe more should have been done in resort.
the thomas cook rep never mentioned the first choice complaints form I was under the impression that I had complained correctly by complaining to the hotel receptions duty manager at the time, my holiday rep was very seldom at the desk when he was supposed to be and we tried the mobile number provided several times but it just rang out and went to voicemail, when we did catch up with him at the tour desk he just seemed to brush over our complaints although always listened and was always very sympathetic and assured us he would get right on it and spoke to the hotel staff (in spanish which we dont speak) telling us they would get maintenance teams round to sort out our rooms.
we were told that saying we had an emergancy would be the only way the airport would put us on standby so thats what we did, I trusted what i was being told by hotel staff and it was them that phoned the airport to get us on standby as we didnt speak spanish.
Unfortunately I was a bit gullible there and trusted what i was being told
It is not reasonable to expect a TO to compensate someone if they have not been given a chance to put things right. If that comment does not seem right then look at it from the other side. If you were the TO and you received a complaint such as yours how would you react? The customer does not bother to contact your rep, flies home and then tries to present you with a bill.
Stating you had an emergency - which was not true could be considered as a f r a u dulent action on your part.
Whilst I have some sympathy for your plight I doubt you really have much chance of compensation, and making your own arrangements for an early return is your own responsibility.
The suggestion that you contact Ros Fernihough - Travel Law Solicitor is, in my opinion, the only chance you have in getting anything out of this.
Ros often assists our members and will offer you free advice if the matter is worth pursuing.
The direct number to Ros's PA Pam is 01922 705134
Or try the switchboard number 01922 633214 and ask for Travel Dept.
Good advice given to you by previous posters. I too think the only way forward is to contact Ros.
At the company I work for (not FC or TC) we have a reps board or folder in every property even if it does not have a daily reps service. We include the local office number and a number for out of hours which is manned 24 hours, the same info is also in our welcome packs. We do this so that there is no reason at all that guests can say that we were uncontactable. (Our reps don't have company mobiles)
There must have been a reps board or folder in your hotel. Could you not have called the resort office direct if the reps mobile was no use?
Failing this, all hotels have contact numbers for their tour operators.
I know it's a bit late now but you really should have pushed more in resort - with FC, not the hotel. Sometimes hoteliers need a kick up the bum. If it was bad enough for you to want to fly home then you could have escalated the problems to your reps resort manager. Even if the issues were not fixed to your satisfaction, you would have it in writing that you tried.
By the sounds of it, you DO have some very valid complaints but the fact that you didn't escalate them in resort will give FC the opportunity to use delaying tacticts and pooh pooh your complaints.
Contact Ros, I hear she is great and has helped many members here.
A rule book if you wish to call it that.
Research your holiday before you go - it is no good expecting compensation for a holiday that is not the one for you. Brochures paint a wonderful picture but they are adverts, what it says on the packet is not always what it contains. If you post a question on HT about a hotel, resort or destination then the odds are, one or more of our members have been there and done that.
Always, when paying for your holiday, ensure that you pay at least £100 of the cost with your credit card. Yes, you might have to pay 2.5% for doing so, but if the firm go bust you can claim back from them the full amount you have paid - up to £30,000.
Always ensure you make any complaints to the rep whilst you are in resort. Most complaints can be resolved if you do so and help make your holiday heaven instead of hell.
Always complete a complaint form in resort. Remember that if the rep makes you an offer of compensation in resort - free trips for example - then you have been compensated. They are not freebies.
If you don't get anywhere with the rep or are unable to contact them, then email the TO from in resort. It does work I can assure you.
When you get home don't waste time sitting on the phone paying to listen to Vivaldi.
Send them a letter by recorded delivery. Emails get lost - you can track a letter online and confirm it has been delivered.
When you have sent off your complaint then give them time to investigate it. Do not bombard them with multiple letters. It will not speed it up. Never send original documentation.
When you write your letter don't rant. You might not be happy but you can be professional in submitting your complaint and request - NOT DEMAND - for compensation.
If you need help or advice then post here on HT - we may not be experts but the experience and knowledge of many of our members have might just be of assistance.
Always print out, read and take with you the Safe and Sound booklet from HT.
None of the above guarantees you will have a great holiday, but it will ensure you know what to do when things go wrong.
I concur that multiple e-mails/letters/phone calls do not speed up the process.
Most complaints are not answered by the UK office anyway. They are sent to the resort for investigation. Reps or managers have to contact hoteliers, suppliers or whoever for answers etc etc and the importance of filling out a written complaint form in resort makes a huge difference. Even if the complaint has not been resolved adequately at least there is a record of it which makes it so much easier to deal with.
I answer complaint letters for my company and I would say that sadly, even in this day and age of well travelled folks, the majority are still not recorded in resort with the rep.
I work in a well known chain restaurant and i can tell you that the customer is always right even if they are wrong.Why is it so different with the travel industry
I have had several heated discussions with reps (FC, thomson and TC) where, as a naive traveller, I had assumed that the reps were processing my complaints correctly only to find out later that although they had made notes in their pads, they had not filled out a proper complaints form. Luckily by the time something more serious occured, I had been made aware and stood over them to get the form, otherwise again it would have been all verbal with their reassurances that they were doing everything correctly for me. I have also had FC reps standing before me stating they could not help me as they did not know what the companies responsibilities were and that there was no-one to contact as the supervisor had finished for the day and was off the next day! Somewhat unbelievable I thought until the supervisor herself informed me that FC were only responsible for lost baggage and my bag was not lost as they knew exactly where it was(back at Gatwick), and therefore it was my problem and not theirs.
My next FC holiday (in Cuba) saw us get Jackie "Excellent" as the rep and she was by far the best we had encountered anywhere, although in some instances she was again blocked by the "supervisor".
The problems here are that the complaint form has not been pursued in resort, which the tour company will hide behind, and that the other rep has been somewhat malicious with his advice.
As seasoned travellers "we" all know that you just can't up sticks and fly home whilst hoping to gain some compensation without serious rep involvement, but if a rep, who's "in the business" tells a holidaymaker it is the correct thing to do most will believe them. Personally I would expect the TO to arrange and pay for the flight home due to a bad holiday and would not have parted with my own readies.
The issue of family emergency just seems at first glance to be a way of gaining a better chance of travel on the day and was not used as an excuse for the TO to fly them home, so is secondary as the OP paid for those tickets.
If one then tries to claim the holiday curtailment costs and extra charges back from insurance due to a family emergency that is when the legally misrepresenting aspects kick in.
Some people are very at ease with making false insurance claims and it may have been something on those lines that the other rep was refering to. Allegedly, every time (distant) relatives of an old acquaintance wanted to redecorate they put the bath and sink plugs in, turned the taps on and went out for the day and then blamed it on the children.
Like many others I have too many difficulties getting valid claims paid to even contemplate such a course, but the reps see all types and advice from afar is easy!
The OP should contact Ros today, if they haven't already done so, to try and sort this mess out, but morally some of the claim should be against the other rep for providing incorrect advice!
Unfortunately I can only see this ending in tears, but good luck with your claim.
Things go wrong but you must give every opportunity for the person or company at fault to rectify things. If they don't then you can claim compensation. I rent out a 2 bed apartment and last year the DVD player stopped working during a guest's stay. It was not reported at the time to my property manager (as detailed in my T&Cs and also in the guest info file) but I was hit with a claim for compensation for the trauma (yes trauma) caused to a 5 year old who could not watch DVDs. I refused point blank to issue any compensation and it was thrown out of the small claims court for the reason that I had not been given the opportunity to rectify the broken DVD player which I would have done immediately.
Sorry but I doubt you will get a penny.
but morally some of the claim should be against the other rep for providing incorrect advice! - yeah right. Good luck trying to prove that one!
Whilst i think that your complaints are genuine, there is also alot of false claims that fly about which is why you have probably got the response of a "no" from first choice.
Last summer this lady booked on the thursday to travel on the friday, no questions were asked about the hotel or anything and she just wanted to book it as she knew the area and had been to turkey for the last 15years.
The day of departure we were greeted with her screaming down the phone (and i mean screaming using foul language) demanding her money back as she had read reviews that the hotel wasn't that good. The tour operator would not budge and neither were we going to either.
After several abusive calls we sent these to the operator for them to listen to and make all resort staff aware of them as she was going to cause havoc at the hotel (so she claimed).
Funny enough, they checked in, never went to the welcome meeting, reps visited twice a day everyday with the the resort manager and never heard a peep out of them.
On arriving back into the uk, within a few hours of landing there was a 3page complaint sent to us threating court action and that we would be out of business by the time this would be settled.
After several letters and being filed for court action, it was ruled out and them not getting a peny.
Whilst i don't think you are in this catergory, these type of complaints unfortunately tarnish the genuine ones which i think yours is, but maybe the above will help you understand why nothing has happened with your complaint.
I feel that you may well be forced to put this one down to experience as it states in most operators T&C that a complaint must be made in resort and logged with the rep. I have found that any of their reps will do and when mine was avoiding me I just stopped one in the street to get the forms and got it logged and signed by the rep transferring us back to the airport on our way home.
We can only give our opinions and advice based upon our personal experiences, which matter not a jot in the grand scheme of things.
There are several other threads where the consensus has been that the aggrieved party did not have a strong enough case or had violated the strict terms and conditions, yet Ros has successfully pursued and won significant compensation for them. Let's hope you fall into that category.
Please update the thread to let us know how you get on, if only to assist other people in the same predicament.
Please come back on and update the thread so that those who have taken an interest, get to know the outcome.
Hope it works out for you as it sounds like you didn't get what you paid for and at the end of the day that is the main issue for you and most of us. i.e. we feel we should get what we paid for and we shouldn't have to 'jump through hoops' in resort to acheive this.
Why should people have to fight for the holiday they thought they had booked in the first place ?
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