Milton Keynes woman slams popular holiday company On The Beach as unsympathetic during Covid crisis

An NHS worker forced to cancel a holiday abroad to work through the Covid crisis met with an "unsympathetic" response from On The Beach.

Monday, 3rd August 2020, 4:54 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd August 2020, 4:58 pm

Terri Evans and her friend booked a trip to Ibiza last year and were meant to be leaving on July 16.

But Terri, who was paying via payment plan with the holiday company, was made redundant due to lockdown and her friend works for the NHS and was deployed as a community nurse, which meant all her annual leave had to be cancelled.

Terri cancelled the holiday but, aware she could not get a refund, she asked if the money they had already paid could be put towards another On The Beach holiday next year.

Terri and her friend were going to San Antonio in Ibiza

The company told her there would be an extra cost of £362 to change the date. Terri tried to get the fee waivered as a gesture of goodwill but says On The Beach refused.

By this time, the departure date for the original holiday has passed. Through Messenger, which is the company's preferred means of communication, Terri then asked to set up a new payment plan for the new holiday next year.

But little did she know that while these messages were being exchanged, On The Beach had already taken the final payment of £690 for the cancelled Ibiza holiday. And they had treated her as a "no show" at the airport.

Terri said: "At no time did they tell me this. I wasn’t aware until days later because the credit card had nil balance and I wasn’t using it. Therefore I only noticed after my departure date, when I actually went to close my credit card account down."

Terri has now paid a total of £1,022 for a holiday she was unable to take. She told the Citizen: "I then tried to call again, furious they took the payment, but I couldn’t get through. Another message later, they replied to say the holiday 'went ahead' and now I couldn’t change the date and book another one."

"So basically I paid for a holiday I didn’t go on due to a world-wide pandemic. I paid without knowing when I thought we were in negotiations about the extra £362. They let the holiday go ahead even though I asked them not to.

"They won’t let me change the holiday now and I’m unemployed, in debt on a credit card and missed out on a holiday. They have advised me to claim through travel insurance but I did not have any unfortunately.

"At no point in the message did they give me a deadline or advise that they would take the money and let the holiday go ahead anyway. I asked for a new payment plan on June 29 and also the July 6. They then took the remaining £689 from me on the July 9 without mentioning this in any of their messages.

Terri claimed: "They are almost impossible to get through to and they refuse to call me back and discuss. They are unsympathetic and won’t comprise at all."

The Citizen sent Terri's chain of correspondence, complete with emails, booking receipts and bank statements, to On The Beach press office and asked if they could help resolve the situation.

Three days later a spokesman replied: “It is not our policy to respond to individual customer queries through the press, however we are aware of Ms Evans booking and attempts were made to resolve the issue."

She added: "As the holiday amendment was not accepted by the customer prior to the original departure date and due to the hotel being open and flights departing, the customer was classed as a no show and therefore a refund cannot be guaranteed.

"When a customer chooses to cancel or amend a holiday of their own accord they will need to pay an amendment fee to accommodate these changes. In this case the hotel fee was reduced, however we were unable to waive the flight amendment fee from the airlines, as this is out of our control.

"This is a complicated situation and we are working to ensure that our customers can enjoy their summer holiday.”