The principle problem that faces most holidaymakers is in what they perceive to be a lack of evidence to support their claims. This view is often supported by travel companies telling them:
- That they have received no other complaints;
- Travel Companies pointing to positive travel reviews;
- ‘It’s a virus on the island’;
- ‘The bug was brought in by a holidaymaker’;
- ‘We sent you an e mail’;
- ‘You haven’t got a package holiday’, or
- ‘Normal booking conditions apply’!
For the most stout-hearted, these comments can knock you off target and cause you to begin to doubt the nature and validity of your holiday complaints.
What never fails to surprise us is how many holidaymakers fail to get evidence when they are on holiday:
- They do not talk to other holidaymakers to see if they have experienced the same problem;
- They forget that their phone is also a still photo and video camera;
- They do not take names and addresses of other holidaymakers;
- They did not keep a daily diary of their experiences and who said what to whom, when they made a complaint!
That said, we would not criticise any holidaymaker who has not followed these simple rules, because sometimes holidaymakers are under stress. We have recently dealt with one holidaymaker who explained that he did not make a complaint because the manager of the hotel told him that he would throw him and his family out of the hotel if he complained; is it any wonder why some holidaymakers do not complain or collect evidence?
When you come home your evidence or what you perceive to be a lack of evidence could be bolstered by following some simple rules:
- Take copies of the booking process you used online – this will help you explain what you saw at the time you made your booking;
- Check the travel review websites – see what other people are saying – print the comments off, particularly those that demonstrate a pattern before and after your holiday:
- Don’t be put off by the argument that ‘negative’ views are subjective and therefore not valuable. Travel Companies use ‘positive’ views to sell their holidays are they not also subjective views – you could argue that ‘negative’ views are just as valuable!
- If you can, speak to people who have posted on the travel review websites – particularly those who have expressed ‘negative’ views – private message them;
- They may have visited your hotel or cruise ship at the same time;
- They may be able to give you a statement or letter of their experiences;
- They may have photos or video they could share with you.
- Check UK Newspapers for stories connected to your experience – they may have names and locations of where they live;
- Check Newspapers in the country you have visited – particularly local newspapers and radio/TV stations – for stories connected to your experience;
- If weather is a feature of your complaints – research hurricane data via the National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – they have information and links to all weather events;
- If your complaint involves returning holiday illness, make a Freedom of Information application for information on returning illnesses from your holiday destination/country/location (for the previous 3 years) with the Health Protection Agency;
- If your complaint involves holiday illness, speak with your local Environmental Health Department – they may have information about other people who have returned with similar complaints;
- If your complaints involve security or crime, submit a Freedom of Information application to theForeign & Commonwealth Office to extract travel advices they have given about your holiday destination/country for the previous 3 years;
- Catalogue all your evidence into one central area, and
- DO NOT send your evidence to any Travel Provider until you have received independent guidance;
- NEVER send original evidence, ALWAYS send copies;
- NEVER give access to your medical records unless you have received independent guidance
- NEVER sign any documentation sent by a Travel Provider until you have received independent guidance.
These simple pointers are designed to make you realise that a ‘hopeless’ situation is not necessarily the case – there are always methods you can use to gather information and not all are listed here!