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Booking a Holiday - What if it Goes Wrong

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 15 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Consumer Rights Holidays Package

We've all heard of nightmare holiday experiences; after all, they feature regularly in the papers and on TV programmes. But how can you save yourself from the Holiday From Hell – and what can you do if it happens to you?

Before You Go

What exactly is a package holiday anyway? By law, a package holiday means a holiday including two out of these three items: transport, accommodation and 'significant tourist services'. Within that, any holiday should be reasonably as described to you (otherwise it's an offence under the Trade Descriptions Act and you can claim compensation), with available (not overbooked) accommodation.

Always make sure you book with a reputable travel agent, one who belongs to ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) or AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators). Tour operators which sell package holidays are required to be bonded or use some other method to protect your money. This means, if the company goes bust before you travel, you should be able to get your money back. If you're already abroad on one of their holidays, you'll be able to finish it and get home without having to pay more. Tour operators selling package holidays that include flights must have an ATOL, or Air Travel Organisers' Licence, another consumer protection scheme.

In all cases, responsibility for the tour lies with the tour operator. It doesn't matter if some part of the package, such as a flight, comes from elsewhere. So, whatever the problem, your claim will always be against the tour operator.

Before you sign on the dotted line, remember that there's no automatic right of cancellation. As with all contracts, read everything very carefully first, including all the terms and conditions, before you put pen to paper and never be afraid to ask questions. That said, if the tour operator moves the goalposts by changing the terms of the holiday before you travel, you have the right to a refund.

Problems On Holiday

If things go wrong, talk to the tour rep immediately and give them a chance to put it right. If they can't, ask for a complaint form (you need to do this, or you might not be able to claim compensation).

Did you take a camera? If so, take photos or video to use as evidence. Keep details of the problem and receipts of any expenses you incurred because of it. Once you get home, contact the tour operator immediately. Include copies of your evidence (always keep the originals). Explain what happened and tell them how much Compensation you want. If they offer you much less, don't give in; only accept what you think is fair.

If you do not receive a satisfactory solution, contact ABTA or AITO. They both use independent services to settle complaints. Alternatively, you can take the tour operator to court.

Independent Travellers

Many people prefer to travel independently, booking their own flights and hotels rather than buying a package. That offers freedom, but it also means a lot less protection under the law. If the airline or hotel that you have booked with goes out of business, there will be no one to make other arrangements for you and it is very unlikely that you will receive compensation. You'll need to sort out any problems directly with the supplier of the service (airline, hotel, etc.). Take out travel insurance and make sure it meets your needs.

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[Add a Comment]
Claire - Your Question:
I have booked a holiday with tellytex allinclsive it was 630 pound which I thought was a good deal then I had the confirmation text I had to pay for transport to and from the air port of 120 and I noticed no laugage so I phoned them up it is going to cost an extra 58 pound each for 20 kg of laugage and of I cancelled my holiday I would only get back 156 out of777.98 I tried to cancel the transfer and they said it would be a charge of 10 pound so my cheap allinclsive hoiladay went from cheap to a nightmare and I haven't even gone yet due to fly on the 8th of june please help

Our Response:
Do you still have a copy of the original advert? Did you check all the terms and conditions before booking etc? If you feel the description was misleading and price was not displayed in a transparent manner, then you should make a complaint in writing to the company. If they do not resolve the issue, contact the Advertising Standards Authority.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 17-May-17 @ 10:59 AM
I have booked a holiday with tellytex allinclsive it was 630 pound which I thought was a good deal then I had the confirmation text I had to pay for transport to and from the air port of 120 and I noticed no laugage so I phoned them up it is going to cost an extra 58 pound each for 20 kg of laugage and of I cancelled my holiday I would only get back 156 out of777.98 I tried to cancel the transfer and they said it would be a charge of 10 pound so my cheap allinclsive hoiladay went from cheap to a nightmare and I haven't even gone yet due to fly on the 8th of june please help
Claire - 15-May-17 @ 5:02 PM
Booked a holiday 9 months ago via Thomson.The hotel was stated it has air-con, we have now been told 9 months later it doesnt,. it was a system error!!!We complained and said we dont want to stay there, we have been told we have to pay minimum £1000 extra for another hotel/holiday as we had a free childs place and wont get one now!We said no chance and want to cancel and have been told we will lose all our money????Surely this is not right???
Aprilfool - 7-Mar-17 @ 6:56 PM
Currently staying in a hotel in Sorrento booked independently and already paid in advance for 14 nights. Booked this particular hotel as it had a pool and many here didn't. Have arrived and found it green full of algae and in general very dirty. We would usually spend much of our holiday in the pool. I can't allow my daughter in the pool as its a Health hazard. Having to spend more time and money on excursions instead. Have complained twice to the hotel reception who say they are dealing with it. There was no mention of the pool being dirty and unusable when we booked it in February. Can we claim any compensation or do we have any rights as this is seriously affecting our enjoyment of the holiday.
Piglet - 26-Aug-16 @ 3:40 PM
We have just booked our holiday for next year online with love holidays when we filled out the firm both myself and my wife checked the details before paying the deposit. When we got a confirmation email from love holidays the dates were different. We booked 26-07-17 for 14 nights and they sent us 26-04-17 for 14 nights... Tried to ring them and no one there so we have sent them a message on the on line form. Not sure why but we both checked before we sent the deposit.
Dave - 19-Aug-16 @ 7:34 PM
Niknakx86x - Your Question:
I will try to keep this short and sweet.Basically I am gettin married in Florida in September this year at hard rock hotel. I went to Thomas Cook to book this instore as I've booked with them last few years and they had a deal on for bonus 2 park ticket when booked and stayed in Rosen inn. I knew before I went in that hard rock was were I wanted to get married but unfortunately they didn't do that package wedding but the girl assured us of all our ways to do this and book direct with hard rock and holiday side with them and she would give us the extra kilo for dress and everything else that you get with wedding package except venue of course. She was amazing at continually advising us constantly in how they could accommodate us like a wedding package. End up we actually booked a signature holiday with them at a villa for my partner, myself and 3 kids. Also booked my mum, dad, nephew and niece in to Rosen inn, and we would all get the bonus park ticket. The Rosen inn stated Rosen inn international and I said constantly that as long as this was the one across from wonderworks as I had only ever known it to be Rosen inn at point but again she had continually to assure me it was. Unfortunately I had been played in shop, we discovered no mention of park tickets in out booking, no extra kilo and it's not the Rosen inn across from wonderworks, I was right that she was incorrect. I did go into store and got absolutely nowhere as they said that this wasn't the case and basically nothing I can do except add on tickets to my booking, add on extra kilo for dress and pay extra for Rosen inn across from wonderworks. I was completely devastated and because it's my wedding and getting nowhere we took this on the chin. But the horror has continued as I now have 30 friends and family who have all booked up and have our ref so they get same hotel and they are all over the place, this is a problem as it will cost me more money for my coach to pick up at all different hotels for wedding. Please advise on what I should do.

Our Response:
It does sound as though this sales person has given you misleading information. We suggest you try phoning the Thomas Cook customer services help line 01733 224 808 8am - 1-pm Monday to Saturday first of all. Have all your details ready, including your booking reference and a bullet list of what you were assured of at the time of booking and that the sales person was aware it was for your wedding. If you are not satisfied ask for an address to write to them mentioning their legal obligations under the Package Travel Regulations 1992 to give accurate information when selling a holiday. Hopefully they will be able to help you out. If they don't your options are to report them to Trading Standards and/or file a compensation claim.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 26-Feb-16 @ 2:40 PM
I will try to keep this short and sweet. Basically I am gettin married in Florida in September this year at hard rock hotel. I went to Thomas Cook to book this instore as I've booked with them last few years and they had a deal on for bonus 2 park ticket when booked and stayed in Rosen inn. I knew before I went in that hard rock was were I wanted to get married but unfortunately they didn't do that package wedding but the girl assured us of all our ways to do this and book direct with hard rock and holiday side with them and she would give us the extra kilo for dress and everything else that you get with wedding package except venue of course. She was amazing at continually advising us constantly in how they could accommodate us like a wedding package. End up we actually booked a signature holiday with them at a villa for my partner, myself and 3 kids. Also booked my mum, dad, nephew and niece in to Rosen inn, and we would all get the bonus park ticket. The Rosen inn stated Rosen inn international and I said constantly that as long as this was the one across from wonderworks as I had only ever known it to be Rosen inn at point but again she had continually to assure me it was. Unfortunately I had been played in shop, we discovered no mention of park tickets in out booking, no extra kilo and it's not the Rosen inn across from wonderworks, I was right that she was incorrect. I did go into store and got absolutely nowhere as they said that this wasn't the case and basically nothing I can do except add on tickets to my booking, add on extra kilo for dress and pay extra for Rosen inn across from wonderworks. I was completely devastated and because it's my wedding and getting nowhere we took this on the chin. But the horror has continued as I now have 30 friends and family who have all booked up and have our ref so they get same hotel and they are all over the place, this is a problem as it will cost me more money for my coach to pick up at all different hotels for wedding. Please advise on what I should do.
Niknakx86x - 25-Feb-16 @ 12:07 PM
@MarilynStHeles. We don't know all the details, but from what you've told us, yes you need to pay it back. Compensation should be relevant to any inconvenience you experienced.eg. did it delay your arrival at the resort by more than say 2 hours? Were you sick on the bus because of frequent stops etc? If not, then the £20 as difference that you paid is probably reasonable.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 26-Jan-15 @ 2:48 PM
Last year we booked and paid extra for a speedy shuttle transfer rather than the normal one when we booked our holiday with Low Cost Holidays and on departure Resorthoppa (company providing the transfers) deliberately put us on the slow transfer knowing we should have been on the fast one. To cut a long story short Low Cost refunded £20 difference between fast and slow shuttle one way and this was not satisfactory to us and I said this and my argument was really with Resorthoppa so I tried to take it up with them for a larger refund as compensation for the inconvenience and their failure to provide the service we booked and paid for - I viewed it as breach of contract. However, they said that as it was booked via Low Cost Holidays I had to go through them. I therefore contacted Low Cost Holidays again as even though I was happy with Low Cost for trying to get me a refund it was not enough as we did not get the service we paid for and £20 did not compensate for inconvenience etc. It was stated that we would have a maximum of 4 stops and we had had many more than that. I got no reply to this email asking for more and no refund came so I contacted them yet again to ask about my refund and was assured I would receive it soon. After a little while they paid £201 odd into my bank account so I thought great, that's much better and I was very pleased; it seemed I did the right thing asking for a bigger refund as compensation! That was June last year but now they want £181 odd back as they have told me it was an error; one employee said it was a computer error and another said it was a colleague's error and I should only have had the £20. They are threatening me with further action if I do not pay it to them and they are actually stating it is the balance of my bill (which of course it is not as I paid it up front before the holiday). I told them I accepted it in good faith and did not take it dishonestly so don't want to pay it back especially since I spent it but they are bombarding me with threats of further action. I feel inclined to offer to meet them half way if it would get them off my back (but I doubt it would)and alsobecause I am worrying about a court summons or a bailiff but I feel aggrieved as it is not my fault they messed up and the original offer was not enough! Is there anything I can do?
MarilynAtStHelens - 23-Jan-15 @ 7:52 PM
I have booked a package holiday for September 2014. I was on trip advisor and noticed the international chain has sold that particular hotel to a local company. I booked the hotel because it was a chain and secondly it offered a free shuttle to local shopping Mall/restaurants as the hotel is very remote. The shuttle is now chargeable and will work out expensive over a weeks stay my travel company have not advised me of the hotel's new ownership and are very unhelpful. They want a min £400 for two of us to change hotel (similar 4.5*hotel). What are my rights please? Should they not offer me a hotel of the same category without a price increase? I booked the holiday in good faith Thank you
Saty - 27-Jul-14 @ 10:38 PM
We hired a canal boat for a week from a boat hire company and had problems with the boat after two days, it was exchanged for another boat which also was faulty and was returned to the base two days early and returned home, which ruined our whole week .What protection have we and should we expect a full refund of the hire cost?
Lin - 16-Jun-13 @ 11:15 AM
Hi , I have an holiday flat in Brighton , and I am very fed up to see that everybody is after some compensation.Some guests are trying to find any detail , even a small crack on the wall and take pictures with their Iphone: and say me I will go to a small Claim Court if you don't refund me 50% because this is unacceptable for a flat, if the neighbor make some noise :your neighbor was drilling ,we want our money back....Other guests abuse from everything : they spend too much water , too much gas , too much electricity because they think it is not their home , they will not pay for the bills For example , they pay 125 pounds for a night for 8 person, and everyone want to fill a big bath with hot water , so my bill is finally highter than if everyone would take a normal shower ...Some guests doesn't respect my flat because they think they have pay, they have all the rights of the world : so they leave their vomit on my floor, block my loo with too much paper and so on !! What protection , there is for the owner of the flat ? I think owners of holiday accommodation are easy target , everyone in the UK have on the top of their mouth "legal procedure" and "claim"...Plus I live in Spain , and my flat is in Brighton , If someone really report me to the Court , how would I know it and be able to go?I would like to creata website to report bad guests for self catering accommodation, would it be legal to write comment about how behave some guest, and the risk that there is to rent your accommodation with them? Thank you in advance.
Evasyb - 2-Apr-13 @ 11:47 AM
Booked a week in Spain via local travel agent with Thomson holidays to fly out of Belfast at 7.30hrs 30 septr. last. Due to "technical fault" flight did not leave until 18.00hrs. My wife and self were each given food vouchers for £12. When we asked for a claim form from Thomson desk at return airport in Spain we were handed a letter confirming details of flight delay and told to claim from travel insurance. As we lost half a day out of a weeks holiday plus the main evening meal we consider compensation is due from Thomson. Can you please advise!
Des - 15-Oct-12 @ 9:10 PM
Hi I booked accommodation for a friends wedding in Dorest over the phone.As it was less then 6 week in advance we were asked to pay in full. Which we did however, when we received the confirmation slip the date was incorrect and the company have been very rude on phone and refuse to move the date, as they are fully booked for the following weekend (the weekend we need).They promised to call us back but havent. What are our rights......this weekend is not use to us at all my husband is working. I at the hen do in london!!!!
Help! - 26-Sep-12 @ 4:50 PM
I have booked a holiday to magaluff, and 11 days before i am set to leave the travel company have decided to tell us that the hotel provided will be closed on the dates of our trip, so they have decided they can change the hotel but not anywhere in magaluff. they have change it to a competly different city santa ponza ... we are there for a 18-30's holiday and this has ruined everything, what grounds do we have to push this complaint
kooo - 22-Sep-12 @ 11:38 PM
I attempted to book a holiday with lowcostholidays, twice on the internet they said my card details had declined I received no confirmation emails that the payments had actually been accepted, yet they charged me.m that was 4 days ago still not been refunded. What can I do?!
angry! - 17-Jul-12 @ 9:13 PM
i booked and paid for a cottage holiday for my self and husband who is terminaly ill.we booked with an agent paid all the money,on arriving had to fight our way to get in all overgrown,notes inside saying beware of mice traps no heating on as the storage heaters were off and after ringing the caretaker told they would come on next day,having saved all year to treat my husband we left after 9 hours and came home .we contacted the agent who passed it on to the owner he just said tough that was that,so i lost over 350 pounds to edward swift at bitt chapel cottage near wasdale not a lovely place to stay.
last holiday - 9-Jul-12 @ 6:24 AM
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