Smart Consumer: My holiday from hell left my blood boiling, what can I do now I'm home?
Q Michelle contacted Smart Consumer about what she calls a "holiday from hell" that she and her family experienced when they went on a two-week trip to Portugal in May 2009 for €1,248.
Michelle writes: "The problem started on day one when we could not open our apartment doors as they opened on to a street with homeless people on it and we felt this was a security risk to our one-year-old.
"We were moved a few days later to the second floor only to be woken by a bin collection at 4.15 every morning. On day six, we were moved to a suitable apartment away from the noise and safety issues but the holiday was ruined and we wanted to return home but we were told it would cost extra."
Michelle asked to be moved to another hotel, but was told this would cost an additional €600.
She says: "It was a total nightmare, a family holiday ruined" by what she believes was a misleading advertisement of the accommodation.
She cites other problems with water pressure and cleanliness, as well as the fact the family could not gain access to the Jacuzzi because the "lift was broken and the only access was through an unlit underground car park which was just frightening".
Michelle's complaint was registered with the holiday rep while in Portugal and she wrote a letter of complaint to the tour operator, looking for compensation but to no avail.
A Under the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act 1995, the accommodation Michelle and her family stayed in should have matched the description provided on booking the holiday.
Given the family were not moved until day six of their holiday, they are entitled to seek compensation for their ruined days and for the other parts of their holiday that didn't turn out to be as promised.
Smart Consumer contacted the tour operator on Michelle's behalf and received the following response:
"We do not comment on the details of individual cases with anyone but the customer. There are established channels and procedures for customer complaints as outlined in our booking terms and conditions. We have looked into the issues raised in this particular case and are confident that we have acted appropriately throughout and as such feel no further action is required."
Michelle can refer her complaint to the tour operator arbitration scheme run by the Irish branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, as per the terms and conditions for the tour operator. This is a dispute resolution method where an impartial arbitrator will settle the dispute. It will cost €100 plus VAT.
Alternatively, Michelle can use the small claims procedure and this will cost her a non-refundable fee of €15 and applications can be submitted online at www.courts.ie.