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.