Making the best of a holiday disaster: A prompt and full complaint will give you the best chance of compensation. Ian Hunter reports

HOLIDAY horror stories - and the difficulty of securing compensation - are nothing new. But if you complain promptly you have a greater chance of getting money back. Failing that, courts can award damages for disappointment caused by the failure - in breach of contract - to provide certain forms of entertainment and enjoyment.

In August last year Alison Benjamin, Martin Flack and eight friends booked a villa in Tenerife with Florisun holidays, a Hertfordshire-based company. After a number of flights had been arranged and a deposit paid, the party was informed that the villa had been double- booked. Alternative accommodation in two smaller villas was offered and accepted.

On arrival the villas were found to be filthy. Old food was left in cupboards. There were spider-webs and larvae hanging from walls and ceilings. Many shops were shut for renovation and the pool bar was closed.

The 'two fine swimming pools' featured in the brochure were empty and when a complaint was made to the agents, unsuitable alternative accommodation was offered. Eventually, three privately owned studios were found. There were not enough beds for everyone and one person had to sleep on the balcony. The studios were in a timeshare complex and the manager refused to allow the party to use any facilities other than the pool and the bar.

The party at least had a sympathetic tour operator. A formal complaint was submitted in August and within six weeks compensation of pounds 4,500 was offered and accepted. Mr Flack said: 'That went a long way towards easing the resentment.'

Many holiday-makers do not have that experience. One difficulty faced when making a claim is measuring the loss. The law does not normally provide for the award of damages purely for injury to feelings, annoyance or any social embarrassment caused by a breach of contract. Damages are usually only awarded for identifiable financial loss.

However, the Court of Appeal has allowed an exception to this principle. If a tour operator fails to provide entertainment facilities that have been contractually promised, damages can be awarded.

One such case involved people who had booked a holiday at an apartment complex in Portugal. It was said to have a large pool, a bar and various other facilities. On arrival, the holiday- makers were told that, owing to a dispute, they would not be allowed to use the pool to swim. They had to travel by hired car to local beaches. The court awarded them pounds 1,000 in damages for inconvenience and disappointment.

Huw Davey, a litigation specialist with the Exeter lawyers Anstey Sargent & Probert, advised: 'Travellers with a complaint should voice it at the earliest opportunity. They could complain either to the tour operator's representative in the resort, or to the supplier of the service, such as the airline or the hotel. Failure to do so could reduce the amount of the tour operator's liability as the holiday-maker could be said to have failed to mitigate his loss.

'Disgruntled holiday-makers should keep a careful note of additional expenses incurred. Any receipts should be retained to back a claim.'

Those who book their holidays by credit card may have an additional right to bring a claim against the credit card company. The Consumer Credit Act says they are jointly liable with the supplier for agreed goods or services that cost at least pounds 100.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003