Everyone has a story about a holiday that’s gone disastrously wrong – food poisoning, delayed and cancelled flights, poor accommodation and unruly neighbours. Most people don’t realise however that the may be entitled to compensation for their troubles. Read below to find out what you can – and can’t – claim for if your summer break went seriously wrong
What Can You Claim For?
You cannot make a claim if you have made a bad decision, you didn’t enjoy your holiday or you got unlucky with the weather. If however the package tour operator or one of their representatives is to blame, you may be entitled to compensation. A successful claim for compensation is usually based on proving the company failed to provide the holiday promised in the contract between you and them and usually falls into one of three areas.
- Loss of value
The holiday you received was of a lower value than the one you paid for e.g. you were moved to a cheaper hotel or lower grade room because of a booking error. You can also claim for the time spend resolving any problems on your holiday. The basic idea here is to assign a value to, and claim the difference between, the value of the holiday you received and the one you booked.
If you had to spend money during your holiday as a direct result of the tour operators failings you should be able to claim this money back. This may include expenditure on food and accommodation if the former was inedible or the latter uninhabitable. The replacements must be of an equivalent value to those booked.
- Loss of enjoyment
This compensation is based on any distress or disappointment caused when things go wrong during your vacation. Examples of this would include facilities that are closed during your stay (swimming pools, kids clubs). This is hard to value and is often disputed by the defendant as it is a very subjective thing. A closed kids club can be a mild inconvenience for some while for others it was the main reason for choosing a particular resort.
Next Steps: Make A Claim
The first step in making a successful claim is to organise your evidence and collect the names, addresses and phone numbers of other holidaymakers who can corroborate your claim. Some notes on how the problems affected you combined with photos and videos will help. You must also keep a record of any money you’ve spent as a result of the issue along with receipts.
The next steps in the process are as follows;
- Send your complaint to the tour operator within 28 days of returning home.
- Send the complaint by recorded delivery with copies of the supporting evidence.
- If you are an independent traveller you must complain directly to the owner of the accommodation.
Most tour operators have an established complaints procedure. If they accept your claim they will make you an offer. Feel free to negotiate this further.
If the claim is rejected you can contact The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) or The Association of Independent Tour Operators. These organisations offer an independent arbitration service. They will charge a fee if your claim goes through their arbitration scheme but they will give you advice on whether or not your claim has merit. The average award for successful claims is around £600.
If you are still unhappy the final option available to you is The Small Claims Court. For this you will need the support of a solicitor, preferably one with experience of such claims. You can claim up to £10,000 in England and Wales and £3,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. If your claim is successful the defendant will be ordered by the court to pay you compensation plus your legal costs. If you lose your claim you may be faced with paying the defendants costs as well as your own.
If Your Flight Was Cancelled Or The Airline Goes Bust
If your flight is within the EU and has been cancelled or delayed by more than 3 hours you are entitled to meals (and accommodation if overnight) regardless of the cause of the delay. In addition you are entitled to compensation of between €250 to €600. If the cancellation or delay has been caused by freak weather or volcanic eruptions you are not entitled to any compensation.
If you book a holiday that’s covered by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) scheme and the airline you’re supposed to fly with goes out of business, you’ll get a refund if you haven’t travelled yet or, if you’re in the middle of your holiday, you’ll be able to finish your holiday and get a flight home without paying extra.