Not every ‘holiday of a lifetime’ delivers on its promise. We helped a Which? member get their money back after a dream break fell flat.
A Which? Legal member and his wife booked a 24-night package holiday to Johannesburg, Victoria Falls and Cape Town, plus a cruise back to the UK, in November 2016. It cost £12,498.
The couple were left disappointed when they weren’t given time to explore Johannesburg as advertised.
A last-minute hotel change meant they missed the luxurious steam-train ride they were promised, and were given drinks and canapés instead of the advertised five-course meal.
When they contacted the company, it said the events had been beyond its control. However, it offered a £60 goodwill gesture for the difference in price between the five-course meal and the canapés, along with a £100 voucher off a future cruise.
The member then contacted Which? Legal for advice.
Why the company was liable
We advised that as they had booked a package holiday with the company, it was liable for its failure to provide what had been advertised in accordance with The Package Travel Regulations 1992.
As the couple had experienced loss of value and loss of enjoyment, they would be entitled to compensation. They had sent several letters to the company to no avail; ending up having to initiate court proceedings.
The company then settled the claim in full when it received the court papers, and the member received a cheque for £1,570.
Understanding the law
When booking a package holiday, the consumer will be afforded protection in accordance with The Package Travel Regulations 1992. Regulation 15 holds the organiser liable for the proper performance of the contract by its suppliers.
Damages for a ruined holiday can be difficult to calculate, but judges will regularly award compensation for distress and disappointment.
In 2010 the Court of Appeal in the case of Milner v Carnival Plc (trading as Cunard) set out a guide on the assessment of damages for distress and disappointment. The member had asked the company to reassess its compensation in line with this case.
Have you ever had a dream holiday fail to live up to expectations? Did you consider claiming compensation?