Holidays, hotels and travel - what to do if everything goes wrong
(07/06/15) This week we've taken a look at ways you can get some redress and sweeten the bitterness of a holiday gone bad
We all hope that our getaways are a truly relaxing experience. Whether they’re long or short, luxurious holidays or bargain breaks, we want our time away to be as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.
Unfortunately, as many people who are on or have been on a half-term holiday will know, your time away often doesn’t go as smoothly as we’d wish. Travel disruption, flight or train delays, bad accommodation, poor service or terrible food can all conspire to put a dampener on your holiday experience.
But what can you do about it? Well, you should always seek redress for any service that doesn't live up to its promises or meet (reasonable) expectations:
If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, then you are potentially entitled to compensation depending on the circumstances. Flight delay compensation is based on how late after the scheduled arrival time your flight arrives.
Flights that qualify for compensation
• Any flight that has a UK or European departure and arrival airport
• International flights departing from UK/Europe but longer than 3500km and delayed in reaching its destination by more than three hours
• International flight arriving into UK/Europe with a UK-based or European airline, delayed in reaching its destination by more than three hours and for a flight longer 3,500km
• You are only able to claim compensation if the delay was the airline's fault, something within their control
It can be hugely frustrating if your ferry is late. Thankfully, due to new EU regulations, you are now entitled to a refund in certain circumstances.
You should also expect to be given refreshments if you have had to wait around. The ferry company is obliged to inform you of the cancellation within 30 minutes of the scheduled time of departure and to keep you informed of further arrangements.
• Before your trip, ensure you have adequate travel insurance that includes cancellation and curtailment cover in case of an issue.
• Monitor weather reports before your crossing and check to ensure there are no cancellations.
• You are entitled to compensation if your ferry is delayed unless it is caused by poor weather or other unforeseen circumstances
• If you cannot resolve your issue with a ferry company then you can take your case to ABTA for independent assessment
If your train is delayed for over an hour, you should be entitled to some compensation. Although the amount varies with each operator, the minimum you are entitled to is 20% of the ticket value (or 10% if a return ticket and only one leg is delayed). Some companies offer compensation in the form of vouchers if your train is delayed for half an hour or more and it was their fault. Ask at the ticket office or use Resolver to inform the company within 28 days of your travel.
These are the minimum requirements placed upon a train operator, but most companies can be more generous than this. Each company's compensation levels are set out in their franchise agreements with the government.
In the case of severe delays there must first be an agreement between the train operator and Network Rail that the operator was not to blame for the delays. In case of this agreement no compensation will be due.
If your train is cancelled or is delayed and you decide not to travel, you are entitled to a full refund. If this is the case, you should go to the ticket office, where they will refund your fare.
All train operating companies must adhere to the National Conditions of Carriage. These set the way issues must be handled and what compensation, if any you are entitled to.
If an issue cannot be resolved with the train company, you have the right to take your case for independent inspection. This is either Passenger Focus (which covers all of the UK outside of London), or London Travelwatch for journeys or issues within London.
When compensation is not payable on a train
• Acts or threats of vandalism or terrorism
• Suicides or accidents involving trespassers
• Gas leaks or fires in lineside buildings not caused by a train company
• Line closures at the request of the police or emergency services
• Exceptionally severe weather conditions
• Industrial action
• Riots or civil commotion
• Fire, mechanical or electrical failure or a defect (except where caused by a train company or its trains’ defects)
If you booked your accommodation in the UK, then you have protection under the Supply of Services and Goods Act. This means the service they give and the quality of the room must be reasonable and services delivered with reasonable skill.
The key word in this is ‘reasonable’. Reasonable is based on a number of factors, but the key one is what you paid for your room. The higher the star rating or the higher the room rate, the higher your expectation of quality should be.
The hotel should have the facilities that they describe so if they say they have a swimming pool then they should. If not available then you have a reason to raise an issue.
Keep a record
If you experience an issue then collate as much information as possible. Your smart phone is a great way to do this; take photos or videos at the time of the issue as well as any receipts or records of money you had to spend.
If you cannot resolve the issue while you are staying at the hotel, then you should raise the issue within 28 days of returning home. When you email the hotel through Resolver, try to attach as much supporting information as possible such as your invoice, photos etc to help express your issue clearly to the hotel.
Booked through a travel agent/website
If you booked through a travel agent or website, you should still raise your issue with the hotel directly. They do need to ensure the information provided is accurate.
If you feel the issue was caused by the website's or travel agent's mis-booking then you should raise the issue with them and not the hotel. Where the travel agent is a member of ABTA, if your issue cannot be resolved then you need to escalate the issue to ABTA.
Paid by credit card
If you paid by credit card even if it was only the deposit and you spent more than £100 on your credit card then you can make a claim against your credit card company. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act the Credit Card company is jointly liable and you can make a claim from them.