Each month this page will feature a complaint we have received that we feel deserves a special mention, either for the circumstances giving rise to the complaint, the questions it raises, or for the manner, good or bad, in which it was handled.
To get your company featured on this page you only have to treat your customers badly!
When you book with Teletext beware of extra costs and booking errors!
Mathew Brown of Manchester complains:
I recently booked a holiday for myself and two friends through teletex holidays. The original price was £368 pp but when I finished it had grown to £452 pp and when I got and read my confirmation email I noticed they had not put and luggage on for us, only hand luggage even though I specifically asked for luggage and asked how much allowance I had to which the lady said 20kg pp. I called their customer service line which took over an hour to get through and was told they would get back to me within 48 hours. 3 days later I emailed them to ask about this and got a reply saying they would investigate within 48 hours. You guessed it 72 hours later they emailed me back saying she never offered me luggage allowance. Sorry 1. she did and 2. isn't that an necessity? Since then I've phoned 7 times with no look and when I requested I copy of the phone call recording I was told I'm not allowed one. Is this right? I'm now having to pay an extra £148 to get luggage added which brings the cost from the original £368 to £500. I'm very angry and disappointed the way I have been treated by teletex
BA - The World's Most Arrogant Airline?
Marie of Glasgow writes:
My husband and I planned a special anniversary trip. It incorporated a 9 day tour of East Coast America & Canada, finishing with a further 4 days in New York. We flew with BA from Edinburgh via Heathrow to JFK. We arrived at JFK but our luggage did not. We were told there was some sort of problem at Heathrow. We were given a file number, phone number and web page to consult. I explained we were on tour and staying at different hotels, they photocopied our Itinerary (the page which detailed dates and hotels that we would be staying.) To sum up we did not get our luggage for our 2 weeks in the States. I have a catalogue of events for the next 5 weeks of the lies failures and times we have been ignored by BA. It was finally 7 weeks to the day before we got our luggage back. I am convinced we would not have got it back at all if we hadn't involved "the judge" in the Sunday Mail. The most frustrating part of this experience is NOT the length of time it took to get our luggage but the atrocious way we have been treated by BA. Even the head of customer services told me "Your luggage is winging its way to you as we speak" exactly 2 weeks before I received it. The statement to the press was also NOT true.
From Doreen: "Thank you for your email In July 2013 my colleague with whom I share a cottage in our retirement, 25 years ago purchased a time share with her husband and much later when her husband had died took up the option to exchange the time share for RCI points. In 2012 the purchase period for the points terminated and due to advancing years decided not to buy any further points.So in the past arranging holidays by 'phone has indeed been satisfactory by this method for her. However,in July 2013 she received a cold call from Resort Key(Rebecca) ) and subject to intense pressure agreed to purchase two weeks holiday.They would not accept her debit card so my credit card was used instead. In November 2013 she received another cold call from Rebecca and once again was persuaded to purchase another four weeks paying with her own debit card which they now accepted. On January 16th 2014 she received another cold call from Rebecca saying that a further upgraded payment was needed of £399.00 and they had the details of her debit card but fortunately on this occasion the Bank would not honour the payment. The following day the pressure continued from them and when I requested a holiday using the weeks we had bought that were supposedly in their banking system to use within a two year an eleven month period( client number 2539) I was told this would not be possible until a further payment was made. We were aware that a processing fee of £44.50 would be requested when booking a holiday but no information was supplied that indicated we would have to continue to pay further money to upgrade our existing holiday entitlement. Further abusive telephone calls came from different sales people including Michael Phillips the sales manager who informed me that we were on their red warning list (?) which meant that unless we pay for the upgrade our holiday weeks would be deleted. I asked for this information to be forwarded to me in writing but this never happened. I have sent an email to Resort Key on their web site 7 days ago but no reply. I have also sent a further email to firstname.lastname@example.org but this had been returned to me by Mailer-Demon. Needless to say we are still receiving very rude and abusive telephone calls from different sales people from this very unpleasant and rude company. Best regards, Doreen".
THOMSONS (just one of very many)
Being a big company, Thomsons attact a lot of complaints and once they get their hands on your money they lose interest in almost everything except keeping it. Mrs Heidi Baker of Hereford has just written to us saying:
"Myself and my family booked a holiday to Menorca with Thompsons to travel on the 24th Aug. My daughter's boyfriend who is in the armed forces booked to travel with us but as he was on stand by for the olympics. We asked Thompsons if he should be called would he get a refund where they assured us he would . Unfortunately he was called to go about a week before the holiday. We informed Thompsons straight away who assured us again if he got his cancellation form stamped by his commanding officer he would get a full refund. Consequently he did and it was taken in to Thompsons and they are now refusing to honour what they stated .I'm not sure where to go on this now but I find it totally unexceptable he should be treated like this for doing his duty to the country."
Nice one Thomsons, you are not noted for your customer service, but if accurate this is a little too far.
CityJet (Air France)
Mike Pearson recently contacted us about a problem quite a few people have reported where they have booked flights with various companies and have been charged amounts other than those for which they have contracted. He writes:
In December 2011, I received an invitation email to book a flight within about 3 days to travel within 3 months.
I booked a return flight from Luxembourg to London for January 2012
Normally if I book 3 months in advance the cost would be around EUR125
This time I was booking only about 6 weeks in advance.
The cost was displayed as FOF123.64. I wasn't sure what FOF was, but the amount appeared OK.
It was sometime later when I saw on my credit card statement, that the amount charged was EUR195.64.
I called the helpline number which was in Belgium. The employee, took my details and asked me to send a copy of the ticket. I faxed them.
Later that day I called again for an update as there was no hint given as to what the solution would be.
I was told this person had gone home and this employee could see a different amount when they looked.
I was advised to get a copy of my credit card statement and fax that to them
I found the attitude of this 2nd employee offensive, and so i asked to speak with a supervisor.
She didn't introduce herself, just said hello.
She had the same attitude as the others - basically, City Jet (Air France) had done nothing wrong, there was no problem in their minds.
I tried emailing my evidence, but the replies kept coming back that I needed to call the Belgian number again.
There were around 4 more calls, met with similar adversity. The best advice was to go to the Air France desk, at Luxembourg airport (which I later discovered didn't exist).
I tried at London City airport desk - I have to say the staff were really concerned about my case, though they couldn't help.
I noticed that they have a Facebook page, and I spotted an offer, so I popped a comment about buyer beware, the price you see is not the one you pay.
A lady called Claire Bruton, contacted me by email several times advising me that I was in the wrong, she had checked their system, I had agreed to pay the EUR195.64, and that was the end of it.
I contacted my bank BGL BNP who use Cetrel as a credit card platform. I sent as much info to BGL as I could (I am not allowed to contact Cetrel directly.
After about 4 emails to Claire Bruton, there was a partial change of heart, and I was offered a voucher, which I didn't take.
Then, I was finally offered a refund, which I did receive.
I still feel bitter about the way I was treated, and it has put me off flying with this company. This is a shame, as I wanted to support them.
Allan of Hampshire reports yet another instance concerning advertising of cheap flights that are never available when the customer tries to buy. We get countless complaints and all tell the same story in one way or another:
Allan reports: I have been in dispute with Netflights since early December, 2011, following purchase of four round trip tickets from Gatwick to Charlotte, North Carolina. At this point I consider that at best I have been misled and at worst cheated by Netflights. Whilst dealings with Customer Services have generally been polite on both sides, I believe that I have been subjected to delaying tactics, and more recently ignored. I have documented my contacts with Netflights and I should hope that Customer Services have done the same through telephone monitoring and the file opened under my booking reference:-
I am organising a golf trip to the USA for myself and 3 friends for which I purchased airline tickets through Netflights. I had researched tickets on the Netflights website and they were offered at £468 each. I contacted my colleagues for acceptance and a day or two later returned to the website to complete the purchase. I was staggered to find the price had jumped to £586. I immediately called Netflights Customer Services to check what was going on. I was told that the cheaper tickets had sold out and the higher price was the cheapest available. I asked whether cheaper tickets would be available at a later date and received a firm â Noâ . I was told that lower price tickets could only come available through cancellations and the chances of getting four were essentially nil. Disappointed I returned to the website to complete my booking. During this process I was phoned by a Netflights sales representative who had observed that I had been on the booking site for some time and he asked if I needed help.
I explained that I had held up my booking whilst phoning Customer Services to seek explanation of the price jump. He sympathised but confirmed that I had missed out on the cheaper seats and that the only way the price would go from here was up. With the same story from two sources I went ahead with my booking. By chance I revisited the Netflights site a few days later and looked again at the Charlotte flight costs. I was very surprised to find that the price had dropped to £483 despite being told that this would not happen. Naturally I contacted Netflights Customer Services the next morning, 8th December, 2011, and have been in fruitless discussion with various management levels for the past 51 days! I have had many telephone conversations after lengthy and costly periods "on hold", and sent several e-mails. I have been given dubious stories about how this situation is unprecedented and how unfortunately my tickets cannot be switched, and I cannot be compensated by a refund. More recently we have discussed the possibility of compensation by vouchers for future use and I have indicated the level of compromise that could be agreeable. The manager I dealt with agreed to take the issue to a higher level and promised to get back to me by January 20th, 2012. Despite several calls by me (manager is always unavailable) and e-mails requesting a response, I have heard nothing.
Whilst I appreciate that ticket prices fluctuate with market conditions and seasonality, I find it difficult to accept that such a large increase followed by a large reduction is reasonable over such a short period, particularly five months before the travel date. I note also that prices have remained low to this day! This leads me to suspect an error or some malpractice by Netflights which should be addressed through compensation and through internal procedural changes at Netflights.
Latest Villa Fraud
We were looking to book a holiday villa for our trip to Ibiza in August, so we went to homeaway.co.uk and enquired for a villa through their website. We were contacted by the (supposed) landlord whom we negotiated a price with and paid soon after (around £2000). However this was not the owner of the villa, whom we found out only 5 days before we left, had no idea who we were. We had fallen prey to a villa scam off their website, with 5 days left till we departed for Ibiza; you can imagine how much stress and tension this caused us not only as individuals but as a group.
As a company, I was very disappointed with their service. Not only did they show no care & compassion for us as consumers, they singlehandedly disavowed all responsibility and washed their hands of the whole situation. They had been a part in this as there is no way whatsoever that we would have contacted this owner if not for their website. They told us over the phone that it is definitely not their fault as there have been no hacks. But there was no proof of this.
My theory is that it was definitely through their formmail script on their server, as Valeria (the owner of the villa) told us she received an enquiry from us however the email we had put down had been changed to a fake address (email@example.com). This could only have happened if they got to it before it reached her email address.
Our advice is to avoid homeaway.co.uk
Terra Nova Holiday Promotions International - Tenerife
Mr Dennis P of Torquay contacted us with the following:
Complaint: Sold membership in to a holiday club last October,by a company called Terra Nova Holiday Promotions International who are based in Tenerife.They promised us cheap holidays & promised our money back after 4 years? We would receive a bankers cheque to hold & then decide if we wanted to cash it in.Also we were told that we could get holidays at £76 a week cheap flights, This has cost us £9,500 and I have tried to cancel the contract but this company will not reply to any of my e-mails or make contact.
Establishment - Individual Concerned: Terranova,Locales 312/313,Playa de las Americas, Torviscas, Adeje 38660 Tenerife spain.E-mail firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com the person we dealt with is named Ros Davies
Help Required: Well I would like to get our money back if possible? or if anyone else has had dealings with this company and if how they got their money back also to warn others of this company
We Say: We have not heard of these people before but they are very likely to be an experienced group who have previously operated under a different name. In Spain it's seemingly quite easy to do so without bothering the authorities!
Planigo Strikes Again (and again and again)
Steven M of East Hyde Beds, writes:
I booked an apartment with Planigo in Tigne, France a month ago and paid all in advance. When we arrived, the local estate agent told us the appartment was overbooked and offered us a different awful appartment which was 0.1 star. After a horrible 4 hours of arguing, we finally got him to sign a letter of cancellation. Not a great start to a holiday. And rather embarassing for me any my guests to boot.
Since then I have tried to conact planigo by email 23 times and phone 12 times. When I could get through (rarely!!) they have come up wih every conceivable excuse to avoid refunding me my bill. NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER USE PLANIGO!! or their agent TRAVEL HORIZONS. I have tried every way to get back my money but they are cheats and thieves.
Establishment - Individual Concerned: Planigo, Aeromar Voyages, Travel Horizons, Agency des Cimes
Travelwatchdog advice remains the same. Avoid this company like the plague!
The most recent complaint comes from Willis B of Honolulu who writes:
I followed an internet ad(Planigo.com) for a Best Western hotel in Ville-sur-mer.This ad was for 2 nights for 81 per night, much better than BW best internet price of 93.50. The booking company was Planigo.com. I went through the booking procedure and was promised a voucher for the room within 24 hours. The voucher arrived this morning and it said that they could not book me in the Best Western hotel in that town, but had switched me to another hotel in another town a few miles away, Hotrel Artemis in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer at a total of 198.28 for the two nights including service fee. The switch in hotels was unaccaptable, the switch in towns was unacceptable and the increased price was unacceptable. In my state of Hawaii, they have defined laws against "Bait and Switch" advertising- usual violators are used car salesmen.
I have sent them an E-mail requesting cancellation and notified VISA.The charge had not gone through yet. Hopefully, my E-mail will resolve the issue. I just thought that your organization could include Planigo.com in your file.
Tom W of Epsom and his partner booked through Planigo.com to stay at the hotel Saint Jean in La Ferte Bernard in order to attend the Le Mans 24 hours race. The hotel was booked by description from Planigo. When they arrrived, Tom and his partner found the following (his words): " we were handed a key to our room (Not forgetting this room was described as 'superior', for which we had paid alot of money), on opening the door to room number 27 the awful truth began to sink in immediately. The hand basin was absolutely disgusting, so filthy it had obviously not been cleaned properly , dried blood/spit ingrained dirt. Two cheap plastic cups were perched on the hand basin. Next our en suite shower was so poorly built, cheap think polycarbonate sides, after 1 minute the water did not drain away and if left would have flooded the room. Also very unclean. Then the bed - I would not ask my dog to sleep on or in it, it was presumably meant to be a four poster, the posts were fence posts, the cross pieces were 3'' x 1/2'' planks nailed to the posts, to finish off this utter joke two old shower curtains had been cut up and pinned with map markers to the posts!! The material/sheets/pillows were disgusting. The carpet was filthy, no wardrobe, just an old fashioned hat stand -the room measured approx 10'x10' maximum including the 'ensuite'shower. The electrics were exposed and in my opinion dangerous. No cleaning had been carried out under the bed because we found a previous occupants earplugs still boxed. No aircon. The toilet facilities did not improve either, the toilet was filthy and as it was used by all the guests on our floor it ran out of toilet paper on Saturday evening and was not replaced." Tom was charged €297.42 for three nights: The hotel room rate published by the hotel: €48 per night - much more than Planigo would have paid! Planigo insist that it is not their responsibility to check the condition of the hotels they sell!
"Not our fault" they will claim! However, a complainant recently started a booking on the internet via Planigo.com. He chose the French hotel he required and completed the request for a booking. A short while later he received an e-mail from the hotel demanding a photocopy of the identity page of his passport and both sides of his credit card! With identity theft growing at an alarming rate, he very wisely refused. However, the hotel charged him a 15% cancellation fee for accommodation he had not booked due to the unacceptable and quite outrageous booking conditions. If you are asked for similar details, refuse to give them.
5 minutes to the storm - Outside Chilean National Park
LINDA GOGAN - Hotelier - New York
We don't have the name of the hotel, but if you get correspondence from a hotel under the name Linda Gogan, keep well away. Karen of the Wirral reports:
Had an awful stay in accomodation in New York, the owner was very rude when spoken to whilst there. On return home I asked for a refund, she refused. I stated thet I had concerns over standards of building ,she said all was legal. When I contacted the authorities in New York they told me that the building was an illegal conversion not registered for hotel use. She is now being prosecuted in court. I have requested refund or will take her to court.please advise.
Sadly, Karen has lost her money as taking recovery in a foreign court is not a feasible proposition unless the sum of money is sufficiently large to justify getting a lawyer etc. Our advice is to be wary and book only through agents that you have checked. Almost all cities have tourist boards with whom you can check accommodation providers.
For a small organisation, Southall Travel attracts too many complaints. This is the most recent. Marie-Cybelle of London writes:
"My friend and I found a cheap flight on the internet through cheaptickets.co.uk to go to Rio De Janeiro. We telephoned and got transferred to Southall Travel. Booked the ticket but never recieved an invoice, email confirmation, or even our tickets. We then phoned up Iberia (the airline we were due to be travelling with)only to be told we had been booked to go to Buenos Aires. We had to track down the person who took our booking and enter negotiations with him for almost two weeks. He denied having made a mistake, and tried to accuse us of having booked to Buenos Aires which was a complete lie. His customer service was equally appaling, as he never called me back once, despite constantly reassuring me that he would. I had to chase after him constantly and was told on several occasions that he had gone home despite having told me that he would call me back in ten minutes. Eventually, he tried to charge us a cancellation fee of £320 for both tickets. I refused, so he then tried to bargain with me, bringing the price down to £100 pounds per ticket, again I adamantly refused. Why should we pay for his mistake? He then agreed to lower the price down to £50 per ticket, and I was forced to accept, due to the difficulty of the situation. I was disgusted by his attitude to customer care and by the complacency of the company as a whole".
Another Beauty from E-Bookers
This one comes from Robert T of Gerrards Cross:
Booked via internet for Business Class seat from Hong Kong to London via Helsinki with - yes wait for it - Ebookers. Arrived on 18
July 2006 at 7.30am to check having received, checked and printed booking confirmation to find Ebookers had cancelled my booking the night before. I called the Delhi call centre who claimed my credit card was declined despite their confirmation by email. I gave another credit card and they said a ticket was issued and gave me the ticket number. This took one hour on the phone at premium rate from Hong Kong! Back to the check in to find the reservation was in economy class. Back on the phone, yes it was a mistake with just 30 minutes to take off Ebookers promised to get me on the flight, hold for another 20 minutes, sorry the fare has gone up and we can't book, the flight is now closed. How can Ebookers help now - they can't. Can I have my money back and compensation - we dont know! Book with Cathay Pacific and waste 6 hours at the airport. What a company and now a legal case
EuropCar France & Italy
Sarah Robson, a London resident reports "I hired a car from Europcar out of Nice airport for a 2 week period, during which time a small dent was made on the rear offside bumper whilst the car was parked in a car park - we were not present and not at fault. On returning the car to the airport we reported the dent and were verbally assured that no charge would be made. We have subsequently been charged Euro 919.78 in damages. I have contacted Europcar who say it will take them 10 working days to find out why this amount has been charged".
Since this problem was first reported, Sarah has repeatedly asked for an explanation of the charges and for a refund. Nothing has been forthcoming.
There was a small dent in the bumper, that is not disputed. Whether or not Sarah was in the car at the time, if the damage is not insured under the contract, which it surely should be, perhaps Europcar has a legitimate claim. However, this was not a Rolls Royce and more than 900 Euros cannot be a fair charge. Where did the money go? Any guesses?
More recently the same Europcar outlet (Nice) charged in excess of €500 to replace a dented steel wheel on a Peugeot. The true cost? A maximum of €150.
August 2006 - Alan (surname withheld) reports the use of a fairly common insurance scam by Europcar reps in Tuscany. On collecting his car he was asked if he would like the additional insurance cover at a cost of £120. He declined. The form (in Italian)was then prepared and he was told to sign in three places. Like many before him, he later found that his credit card had been debited for the additional insurance. These car hire reps get a high rate of commission on the additional insurance they charge to customers. When the forms you sign are in a foreign language, you are very vulnerable - TAKE CARE
Kensington Park Apartments
Ms C C , a writer from New York, USA complains "We booked a hotel London based on their website. When we arrived it was not at all as described or pictured, so we decided not to stay. Now the hotel operator is billing the American Express card every month in increasing amounts. AmEx does not want to deny the charges any more, since the hotelier is writing long false statements justifying his billing practice. The date in question is November 27th 2003".
In total, this hotel debited the complainants credit card several hundred US$. This was an unjustified charge for cancelling the booking. The compainant is now instituting legal action against the hotel to recover her money.
Before giving your credit card details to any company for bookings or guarantees, be very sure that you want to do so. Get yourself a credit card with a very low credit limit and use it for this type of transaction. It could save you from being a victim of fraud.
We have had a couple of recent reports about Timelinx/Global travel who were recently operating in Tenerife. They claim ABTA & ATOL membership and take large sums of money from people they dupe into joining their holiday club. This organisation operate in Spain where a relaxed view of criminal activity is endemic. Although their web site claims membership of a host of trade associations, they are not, and have never been members of ABTA or ATOL and it would be very unwise to give them any money.
Saying: There is a great deal of wishful thinking in such cases; it is the easiest thing of all to deceive one's self. Demosthenes (384-332 BC)