AN Omagh couple have expressed their frustration with Thomson Travel after losing out on a dream holiday to Rome.
Elaine Fyffe-Harper and her husband Gordon had already paid a £900 deposit on the £1,200 romantic getaway, but were judged to have missed the deadline to pay the outstanding £300 by just one day, losing the lodged sum. Speaking this week, the furious local businesswoman revealed that after three years without a sun holiday, the couple chose the local Thomson branch to book a family cruise in May and a once-in-a-lifetime weekend in Rome in August.
Elaine, who works with Omagh Chamber of Commerce, said she chose Thomson over an online vendor in order to support local jobs in Omagh.
But after handing over a total of £3,300 for both holidays, the couple were shocked to learn that the June 4 deadline for the remaining £300 had passed while they were on the Disney Mediterranean cruise with their young daughter.
Thomson did move to extend the deadline to June 16, but the couple said they were never informed and received just one warning letter on June 16.
Addressed to her husband, who was working overseas at the time, Elaine said it was not opened until he returned the following day.
Heartbroken, the local mum has accused the travel firm of a failure in communication, a lack a flexibility and a lack of common sense.
“My husband called into Thomson the week before to pick up the cruise tickets and I was in three days before we left to book extras for the holiday,” said Elaine.
“We were in twice the week before we went away but none of the staff brought the deadline to our attention.”
Hoping for some leeway when she contacted the High Street branch on June 17, Elaine was met with a brick wall. “They said you’re too late, your deadline was yesterday, it has all been cancelled. I asked could we re-book, but they said we had lost our £900 deposit.
“I am disgusted that when my husband didn’t answer his phone or e-mail they didn’t consider that there was a problem. Why would someone pay £900 for a weekend away and not pay the last £300? It was an extravagant weekend, the treat of a lifetime,” she added.
The couple said while they accept that they must bear a degree of responsibility, Thomson failed to notify them in person during two visits to the agency, failed to send the letter via recorded delivery and failed to phone their home.
“We are great people for supporting local businesses, keeping business in Omagh, to keep local people in jobs,” said Elaine. “This is why we booked our holiday through a local travel agency and not online.
“I could see through it if we only paid a small deposit, but we had paid 75 per-cent of it. This has really put me off, I would think again about booking through a local travel agents.
“They kept telling me their terms and conditions, but you go to a local travel agency for the personal service,” she added.
“We are lucky enough now that we will be in a situation to go on a holiday every year, but we will never book through Thomson again.”
In a statement, Thomson said they were “sorry” to hear that the couple were “unhappy with their booking experience”.
“Our staff tried to make contact with the couple on numerous occasions, as well as extending the deadline for payment. We understand from the couple that they did receive the third balance payment reminder but did not open it. Unfortunately, as we acted solely as a booking agent for a third party tour operator, we are bound by their terms and conditions and are therefore unable to offer a refund or reinstate the holiday.
“All Thomson customers are given clear information on the payment dates upon booking, as well as being sent regular reminders to ensure payment is made by the required date – as a result, situations such as this are extremely rare.”