Departures: Shocking complaint

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The Independent Travel
I AM amazed at how badly some tour operators deal with complaints. If there were no other reason, the business argument for giving proper consideration to customers' grievances is compelling. Market research shows that a satisfied customer, on average, tells three people of his or her experiences - a dissatisfied person tells 15.

Attracting new customers can cost five times as much as holding on to existing ones. Of those who complain and have their complaint dealt with satisfactorily, more than 85 per cent will buy from that company again.

Marjorie Stanley of Kenilworth has passed on to me correspondence with a small self- catering specialist, SFV Holidays, of Oxford. The rights and wrongs of Mrs Stanley's complaint are not the point at issue - she was unhappy with the standard of accommodation provided.

What is extraordinary is the response to her complaint from John Cullom, SFV's managing director. In his letter to Mrs Stanley he snapped: 'There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the property and having spoken to the owners about their impressions of you, I fully understand why you were not offered much help or hospitality.'

Mr Cullom's letter concludes: 'Our offer of pounds 75 off a future holiday was generous and fair. This offer is now withdrawn and we have added your name to a list exchanged between us and our competitors. None of us accept bookings from clients who have proved to be irksome in the past.'

Mrs Stanley said she was 'most upset that SFV should attack me - a 63-year old mild grandmother - in such a vicious way'.

If you have a shocking example of bad behaviour by a tour operator, please pass it on. Is there anybody else out there who has been added to SFV's blacklist?

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