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For more than 10 years, Travelwatchdog has existed as a voluntary service to help the traveller. Have you suffered at the hands of a tour operator, travel agent, holiday company, bucket shop, airline, hotel or any other organisation involved in the travel trade, or had an accident or illness abroad? Are you looking for interesting travel experiences? In addition to helping members of the public who have problems with the travel trade, we also report and advise independently on trips for the traveller of which we have direct experience, some of which will not be found in the brochure. Do you have a particularly good travel experience about which you would like to tell others? We give equal space to both Saints and Sinners in the industry. You can contact our HELP DESK by clicking here.   We are pleased that over recent years our focus has achieved a better balance between helping travellers with problems and advising those who are planning trips. More and more travellers are consulting us, particularly about 'that trip of a lifetime'. We welcome your enquiries. There is no fee or obligation and we do not try to sell you anything. Difficult to believe, but true! If you in any way doubt your ability to get justice from one of the industry sinners please read Eileen's Story at this link and that of Shirley, immediately below.

There is no travel ombudsman and some elements of the industry have a poor record when it comes to dealing with justified complaints. Moreover, almost all travel sites offering help are actually selling something. We are not. Some travel agents and tour operators, particularly those joining the trade via the internet, will steadfastly reject even the most convincing of evidence, feeling safe in the knowledge that there is very little chance of ever being held to account. ABTA, being funded by the industry will support their paymasters in almost all cases, whereas we accept no support or 'free trips' and promise 100% honesty. If you have a legitimate complaint we try to help. If you do not, we say so. Similarly, unlike media correspondents, we do not travel as 'guests of the company'. What we write about a trip is our honest opinion, not a fudge in case our free travel is cut off! The bottom line is that you can trust our advice and the information given in our travel articles. If you have a complaint, simply want some travel advice, or have a good travel story to tell, please contact us using the form at this link

Traveller! Whatever else you do during this visit, please read the thumbnails on this page. It could save you money and heartache.

Shirley .........v Thomas Cook - York County Court

Big travel agents and tour operators are not merely agents without responsibility. They have a contract to deliver what they have promised you.

In February 2012 Shirley and her partner booked, with Thomas Cook, their dream cruise to the Holy Land. Princess Cruises were the cruise line and the cruise was to depart in November 2012. Thomas Cook took the money and issued confirmation documents and the matter rested until a couple of weeks before the cruise was due to depart. Shirley went on-line to download boarding passes and bag tags etc. and found that their cruise had been cancelled and they had been transferred to a Dead Sea and Croatia cruise. Thomas Cook denied any knowledge or liability saying that they had not been informed and they were merely the agents and thus had no liability in the matter. However, they did offer a full refund that Shirley eventually received.

Shirley was devastated at the loss of her dream trip. (It had apparently been cancelled as early as April 2012). Train tickets had been booked and a substantial number of purchases made in readiness for the holiday. We advised seeking compensation from Thomas Cook who waved away the claim saying that it was not their fault and came up with their regular but spurious claim: “We are just the agents. We take the money but have no responsibility beyond that. We don’t pay compensation”

We advised that Shirley should take her claim for £1000 compensation to the County Court under the small claims procedure. Shirley did just that. Thomas Cook entered a defence that they were - you guessed it! “Just the agents and should not be the defendants”. In May 2013 a mediation hearing was held, but TC still insisted they should not be the defendants although they did offer a paltry £300. Shirley rejected this and went to court where Thomas Cook were represented by a hot-shot lawyer whose job was to make certain they did not have to meet their clear responsibility. On 6th August the York County Court Judge took a different view and awarded Shirley her £1000, dismissing the stance of Thomas Cook that they were not responsible for delivering the contract they had made with Shirley at the time of booking.

The message here is clear. This is the second time Thomas Cook has lost this type of case in a couple of months. It confirms that if a travel agent takes your money and contracts to provide you with a holiday, that travel agent is responsible for delivery. They cannot hide their maladministration or failure behind the shield of only being the agent. In this case Thomas Cook took the money and had a duty to Shirley to monitor her booking and keep her informed of any changes. They failed to do so. Accordingly, they were responsible for Shirley losing her holiday and could not deflect the blame to others. Travellers should be encouraged by this confirmation that in a poorly regulated consumer sector, the courts are prepared to back legitimate claims.

General Travel Advice

Even the experienced traveller needs to take a great deal of care in planning a trip. Most of the time nothing goes wrong, but if it does you really do need to be prepared. Take advantage of our printable travel trip check list and avoid the pitfalls that are regularly reported to us.


Travel Insurance

In recent months we have had many cases where holiday stopping events have occured after booking. ALWAYS arrange travel insurance as soon as you make your flight or holiday booking. Tour operators and travel agents will not normally refund however bad the tragedy. They make sympathetic noises but some see it as a bonus rather than a problem. To them it's a holiday they may be able to sell twice! Use our travellers check list at this link.


Travel Regulation Care

Travellers must be aware that it is their personal responsibility to ensure that they meet all Visa and other travel requirements before commencing their journey. The consequence of not doing so can be profound.

Mr K's family recently travelled to Brazil without him, but when Mrs K and her children attempted to return to the UK, they were prevented from doing so by the Brazilian authorities who will not allow a lone parent to take children out of the country. In this case, not being aware of the regulations before travel has caused a great deal of distress and additional expense.

Expect travel agents and airlines to offer advice on such matters, but they do not have the final responsibility; YOU DO! Check with the visa section of the relevant embassy if you are not certain that you are absolutely aware of the requirements you must meet for your journey.


Stop being a 'Sticky' Customer!

What is a 'sticky' customer? This is a term companies apply to those customers who either by design or ignorance can be relied upon to stay with the company. This happens where a company earns a reputation for being good value and despite market trends offering better value almost everywhere else, the company retains its customers because those customers are too lazy or too foolish to research other opportunities.


Beware Europcar on the Continent

Over the past couple of years we have had a number of e-mails about outrageous charges levied by Europcar for minor damage to hire cars. Europcar, owned by EURAZEO, is a franchise organisation with some very dodgy franchisees. Nice seems to be the worst place to hire from this company. The credit card of one customer was debited over €919 for a small dent in a bumper caused when they left the vehicle in a car park. More recently, another Europcar Nice customer's card was debited more than €500 for a dent in the steel wheel of a Peugeot and another in Malaga, €800 for a broken clutch cable! You can avoid such overcharging by using a credit card with a very low spend limit or avoiding this company altogether.


 

Before Travelling to any suspect region, check the latest travel advice with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

 


 

Finding new experiences is one of the great joys of travel. In these days when conforming to a pattern is more and more a part of life, when you find something different it is worth letting people know. If you are going to the Auburn area of California drop in and see Charlie Green at his fabulous winery in the hills.


Fly.co.uk

We have had a host of recent complaints about this company who take additonal charges from credit cards without the customer's authorisation. Although they are Fly.co.uk they operate out of Leipzig in Germany. They do not return calls and frequently send information etc. in German. Our advice is to avoid them like the plague.

 

©Travelwatchdog.com - Feb 2012. Images, video and articles from the site may be freely downloaded, but may only be reproduced in their full version and in the context in which they appear here

A message from the Editor

For more than 10 years we have offered free advice to the travelling public and, apart from a small annual payment from one of Britain's top firms of Solicitors and a few public donations, we have personally met all of the considerable costs of maintaining the site. If you wish to help, please use the Paypal button below. A Paypal account is not necessary.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Braban

About the Editor: Bob enjoyed a long career in the Royal Air Force before spending 10 years as a public school Bursar and a further 5 years as head of Education Marketing International. Throughout this time he worked concurrently as a part-time freelance journalist, for a period with BBC local radio and regional daily newspapers. Legally educated and widely travelled, he started travelwatchdog.com in 2002 after successfully fighting misrepresentation by e-bookers and realising that in travel matters there is no independent source of advice assistance for those who feel they have been wronged. In recent years more focus has been placed on trip planning and pre-travel advice



Water cascading down Yoemite Falls, Cailfornia

The Stunning Yosemite Falls. Part of the California Tour


 

Photograph of golden domes at Perterhof, St. Petersburg

The Domes at Peterhof St Petersburg A highlight of any Baltic Cruise

 

A Cell at Alcatraz - A popular stop for California visitors, but one that must be booked in advance

Cruising. Get the Best Value

As a consequence of the growth in cruising during recent years, cruise lines have dramatically increased their capacity. Several new ships have been commissioned and capacity of others has been increased. What these companies did not foresee was the looming economic recession and its inevitable effect on the potential customer base. Eventually, capacity will disappear from the market place, but until that happens cruise lines will be fiercely competing for business by offering discounts and other incentives. Follow this link to read about cruising and the serious problems with Spirit of Adventure and its Black Sea cruise.

DO READ our travel features and travelogues for which there are links at the top of the page. We publish only genuine first-hand experiences. If you read travelogues in media travel sections, almost without exception they are based on trips PAID FOR BY THE TOUR OPERATOR. The writer is a guest of the company who roll out the red carpet and it is implicit in the arrangement "If you don't behave, this will be your last trip"! WE are never guests of the company and we write what we find. If we don't like it we say so. See Niuew Amsterdam review.

The recent accident to the Costa Concordia will also depress market prices as the wary stay away. This should mean great savings. Our advice is to ignore the Costa disaster. Book a cruise now and you will never be safer!


 

TERRANOVA HOLIDAYS SCAM

Over several years we have received many horror stories about this company. This is one of the most recent. This warning comes from Mrs L H who writes (verbatim)
" I was on holiday and was stopped by a young lady and asked to visit their offices because I had won a top prize, but I would only get that prize after listening to a holiday promotion. On arrival I was given a drink of wine and sat and talked to a couple of very nice ladies who told me about a company called Club Class Corporate who if I bought into the club I would not only get good deals on any holidays/flights in 5* hotels anywhere in the world, I would not only get my £7000 back in total, a cash-back guarantee, but they would buy my Tenerife timeshare in Adeje for £2,000, in 52 months time.
In fact, I have just found out that they never passed those funds onto the the Reclaim company who invested the money in order for the cash back guarantee, which means I have lost £7000. I have since tried to contact them without success."
Establishment - Individual Concerned: Ros Davies, Terranova Holidays Promotions International SL, Locales 312/313, Playa de las Americas, Torviscas, Adeje,Tenerife.

DO NOT GIVE THESE PEOPLE MONEY - To read more click here TERRA NOVA HOLIDAYS TENERIFE


If you are a UK Senior Citizen looking for other than travel advice, you may find these links of interest :

www.seniorsnetwork.co.uk

www.pension100.co.uk


Booking on-line

Every week brings several stories of financial losses by travellers who have made mistakes whilst booking on-line. Getting travel companies to put these errors right is almost impossible with the best and quite impossible with the worst. They see it as money in the bank. if you are not confident go to a travel agent. If you are confident, take care. If you are over-confident, go to a travel agent! read this:

 

RESORT KEY WARNING!

If you are approached by Resort Key be very cautious. See our complaint of the month for details

 

 

On Advice:

George Harris (1844-1922) US Educator

I intended to give you some advice but now I remember how much is left over from last year unused!

Oswald Theodore Avery (1877 -1955)

Whenever you fall, pick up something.

Edward VIII (1894-1972) Only two rules really count. Never miss an opportunity to relieve yourself; never miss the chance to sit down and rest your feet.