How to complain on holiday – and when you’re home

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For most of us the annual holiday is a time to relax, spend time with family and friends and forget the stress and strain of daily life. With the current recession and money being so tight, it makes it all the more important that our holiday lives up to expectations from day one.

Holiday Hell – Today Legal Holiday Claims

But sadly, for many it doesn’t. And the time to complain is there and then – not after 2 weeks of hell in a shoddy hotel with inedible ‘food’ and after you’ve returned home.

Here are a few tips from top travel sites as to what you should do and when:

  • When you book a package holiday with a tour operator did you know that the description and photos you see on their website or in the glossy brochures you’ve sent for actually stand as a legally-binding contract? So take the brochure or a print out of the web page with you – any questions or queries when you’ve reached your holiday spot, then you can email the company straightaway (remembering to keep a copy of the reply).
  • Any problems need to be mentioned straight away – if your room’s not up to scratch or the hotel facilities not the standard you’d been led to expect, you need to tell hotel staff or your holiday rep straight away. There’s no point trying to sleep on it – the sooner you complain, the better.
  • However, do keep your cool. Losing your temper won’t get you anywhere – not even a room upgrade – so stay calm and reasonable, explain the problem and ask for it to be resolved. If you do make unreasonable demands this could affect any compensation claim you might want to make later. For example, a minor problem in your room doesn’t mean demanding to be transferred to a new hotel – perhaps a different room or complimentary meal whilst the problem’s being fixed might do the trick?
  • If you’re really not getting anywhere then it’s time to start taking notes. Get times, dates, who said what and to whom. And then take your complaint to the next level – the hotel or duty manager, your travel company’s resort manager, even phone the tour operator’s helpline in the UK. But, again, be calm and reasonable no matter how angry or emotional you feel.
  • If the problems are with standards of cleanliness, health and safety or hazards to health such as slip, trip and fall dangers or the potential for food poisoning – whatever it is, get as much photographic and video evidence as you can and the names and addresses of any other guests who feel the same. You might even be able to claim compensation as a group. And if you do incur costs such as having to eat out rather than at your hotel, keep all receipts.
  • When you’re back home and think your complaint wasn’t taken seriously on holiday then write to your tour operator or travel agents within 14 days – keep it short and to the point and keep a copy. If you’re unsure what to write, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau where you’ll get great help.
  • If it goes to 8 weeks and there’s no sign of a resolution then get in touch with the Consumer Affairs section at Abta – for claims up to £3,000 they will support you for a fee beginning at £71.30.
  • Lastly it might be time to go to a small claims court where you won’t need a solicitor and you can name the court you want your case to be heard in. With a bit of luck, you’ll get back what you paid for the holiday you simply couldn’t enjoy.


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