+++ STOP PRESS +++ @chrisITV Chris Choi reports: Our Turkish footage shows Holidays 4 UK/Aegean Flights customers facing demands to "pay up or pack up" hoteliers distrust the ATOL scheme +++ STOP PRESS +++
|ALL FLIGHTS CANCELLED as holiday firm goes bust...|
13,000 Brits technically stuck in Turkey after Holidays 4 U firm collapses may have to pay extra to local Turkish hoteliers to stay in holiday hotels warns Broadcaster and Travel Expert Julian Bray +++ NOW CONFIRMED AS FACT BY ITN /ITV NEWS 4TH AUGUST 2011 +++
Around 13,000 Britons are technically stranded overseas after a Sussex, UK - based holiday company Holidays 4 U collapsed into administration earlier today [Wednesday 3rd August 2011] The company, which also trades as Aegean Flights, specialised in budget or cheap charter flights and package holidays to Turkey. Trade has been hit say the liquidators Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) by the economic downturn and general economic problems affecting the travel sector as a whole.
|ALSO IN ADMINISTRATION|
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that all 13,000 holiday-makers "should be able to complete their holidays as planned and return to the UK" under ATOL protection. The CAA said that it will be arranging repatriation for all customers in line with the scheduled end of their holiday. However the CAA said that all package holiday bookings and flights are now cancelled and customers are advised not to go to the airport, as the flights will not be operated. The failed holiday firm is thought to have 18 employees and an annual turnover of around £35m.
Julian Bray Travel expert commented: "Although the Civil Aviation Authority will in ATOL protected holidays try to ensure all holidaymakers with ATOL protection are returned home, there may however be problems with local hoteliers who traditionally are paid out on hotel contracts at the end of the season; they may now immediately demand guests pay extra for their accommodation or asked to leave, days earlier before the scheduled ATOL rescue flight."
Julian Bray suggests that where more than £100 is paid by credit card (not a debit card) the holidaymaker ignores ATOL for the full holiday refund which may take upto 2 years to settle... and starts an immediate claim against the credit card company, under the terms of Section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act. In many cases, the CAA external claim handling company will advise holidaymakers to do the same, if they discover the payment has indeed been made by a credit card.
The CAA/ ATOL scheme will not pay out until the claim is proved and this can take anything up to 2 years in contesteed claims to complete. The Claims process for hoteliers involves a long paper trail and exchanges of steam age faxes rather than a slick online computer system. Importantly the traveller or family of holidaymakers should preserve all paperwork, invoices,and reciepts especially local receipts where extra costs have been incurred, all these if agreed within the scheme can eventually be claimed back, but it takes time and certainly there will be no payout in time for this years holiday season.
Flight only arrangements are NOT covered, but the traveller will still have a claim against the credit card company if the amount claimed is over £100 under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. ( To clairify the total invoice may be much more say £600 but if at least £100 is paid by credit card, then the entire invoice can be claimed against the credit card company!
Julian Bray added: " I am surprised the CAA spokesman who has been touring the TV and radio studios simply glossed over the very real practical difficulties facing some budget families on holiday in Turkey. The CAA subcontracts the whole claims process and has very little direct day to day input. We can only hope they did learn lessons from the shambles of the Goldtrail collapse, no one came out smelling of roses, certainly not the CAA or ABTA."
A similar situation happened when Goldtrail collapsed and refunds through the CAA system took up to 18 months - 2 years to process. Although the CAA on Twitter claimed today they settled all legitimate claims within the year.. jury still out on that..
In a statement the CAA claimed;"“There is never a good time for a travel firm to fail; unfortunately the height of summer is the worst possible time. However people who booked ATOL-protected holidays with Holidays 4 U who are currently abroad will hopefully be able to complete their holiday or claim a refund from the CAA."
The latest in a string of small to medium holiday companies has just gone bust according to the Holidays 4 U website. The parent company Holidays 4 UK Limited has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrator.
Ian Oakley-Smith, joint administrator and director at PwC said: "The company has suffered because of the difficulties faced by the travel industry during 2010 and 2011, as a result of the economic downturn. The director has determined that the business is no longer able to trade and placed the company into administration. The company will cease operating with immediate effect.
Mr Oakley-Smith continued: "Regrettably most staff have been made immediately redundant. We will be working closely with employees affected by this decision to ensure they receive the support they need during this difficult time to assist with their claims for redundancy and other compensatory payments."
HOLIDAY FIRM COLLAPSE
What should I do? Helpful advice from Aviation & Media Expert Julian Bray :
Already on holiday? Relax, enjoy your holiday. The ATOL bond through the CAA will get you home at the end of your holiday.
Resort Hotel now wants me to pay them direct for my stay....
Somethimes this happens as the hotelier will have to wait for any payment as a creditor to the failed company and most of the negotiations over many months in some cases are conducted by fax! CAUTION MANY LOCAL HOTELIERS SIMPLY DO NOT TRUST THE ATOL/CAA SCHEME!!
You have several options.
1. Pay up using your credit card and reclaim/sue later and also call Julian Bray on +44 1733 345581 or twitter @julianbray
2. Refuse to pay and be turned out of the accommodation, possibly days before the scheduled rescue flight.
3. Show your hotelier (if they are demanding the direct payment) this page as the Travel Industry is maintaining a register of hotels who for various reasons may be blacked and denied bulk booking contracts in future years . The Hotel concerned would certainly be a candidate for inclusion.
Everyone else read on:
NON AIR HOLIDAY ARRANGEMENTS such as hotels only, are not covered by ATOL scheme
Booked but yet to travel? The tickets you hold are worthless for travel, your holiday and associated air travel has been cancelled. Do not go to the Airport! If you booked directly with the failed holiday firm, you may be able to claim the cost back through the ATOL bond. See www.atol.org.uk for details.
Also see if your travel agent will change your arrangements and accept the ATOL promise ie refund when it eventually comes as part or full payment and if they will defer their charges, although they are not obliged to do so.
Not ATOL protected...accommodation only arrangements are not covered. If the transaction includes a bundled in flight then ATOL is invoked, and you are protected.
ATOL protected and yet to travel? Check your confirmation if you contracted directly with the failed holiday firm, you are entitled to make a claim. The process will take several months and may take as long as two years (exceptional cases)
I booked with a Travel Agent... Talk to them about a claim and possible alternative arrangements. As a member of ABTA - [Association of British Travel Agents] (however not all travel agents or resellers are!) remind the Agent they operate subject to the ABTA Code of Professional Conduct and therefore morally (if not legally) bound to assist you to either recover your money or find an alternative holiday or resolution.
Credit Cards? If you booked through an Agent using a credit card claim through the CAA.
If you paid FAILED HOLIDAY FIRM directly using a Credit card for at least £100 of the total holiday inclusive tour invoice you may be entitled to make a small courts claim under the UK Consumer Credit Act against the Credit Card company for the full amount. Talk to your credit card firm today!
If you used a Debit Card, Cash or Cheque then claim from the CAA.
I just booked a room, can I claim? Doubtful but talk to your credit card company, bank or travel insurer.
Can I claim through Travel Insurance. No the insurance will not cover Travel Company failures hence the ATOL bond.
Will insurance premiums be refunded? No, but could be transferred to any new replacement holiday contact the broker or insurance company.
Generally: Carefully preserve in a folder all paperwork in date order, as the failed company records will be impounded by the Administrator/Liquidator and may be difficult to find...
Julian Bray Travel and Media Helpline: 01733 345581
Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5