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After losing his job a couple of months earlier, the family was living on universal credit and relying on food banks. Seeing how hard it had become for them, Peter’s parents offered to cover the trip in early September so at least the family had a break before winter. Peter made the online reservation for a family room in the Llandudno Hotel through Booking.com. But barely had he done that when Covid happened. The mounting stress of their predicament had taken both a physical and mental toll on his wife’s health and she was admitted to hospital.
Peter told Crusader: “Covid was the last straw. We dared not risk going away. I thought cancelling within a fortnight of reserving gave the hotel plenty of notice to find other guests.” Peter emailed explaining but the hotel told him the booking was non-refundable and he would be charged the full £329.
“I wouldn’t have made a reservation so far in advance had I realised there was no leeway,” he says. The hotel tried to take the money from his bank.
“But being on benefits we’ve very little spare so the payment didn’t go through,” Peter adds.
++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer and small business champion Maisha Frost on [email protected]
He contacted Booking.com which did try to arrange a free cancellation but it was unsuccessful, says Peter, who had so much else to cope with that he let matters rest.
But in August another debit attempt succeeded. “Our universal credit had just gone in so there was enough money. Our overdraft shot up to its limit,” Peter recalls. While £329 is a pittance to an oligarch, it was the world to this family.
Hospitality firms are facing hard times too however, although the staycation boom is helping UK ones.
Crusader asked both Booking.com and Llandudno Boutique Hotel Ltd, the firm that owns the Llandudno Hotel, to review the matter.
Booking.com responded swiftly saying: “Our aim is to help people experience the world and for this to be as smooth and as hassle-free as possible. Given that this may not have been the case in this instance, we have refunded the customer in full.”
“We can’t thank you enough for your patience and support,” Peter told Crusader. “We can pay our electricity bill now.”
• The Mills’ family’s names have been changed.
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