When ants, noise and no view are better than bunk beds

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I recently took a holiday in Mallorca with my partner and another couple. We booked our apartment through a small family company, choosing a two-bedroom apartment, and we made it clear that we were four adults requiring two double rooms in a flat with sea views.

On arrival, we found that the room in fact contained bunk beds suitable only for small children. There was no room for two beds side by side. We complained immediately but the rep just told us we should have specified what we didn't want. A few days later, we were offered another apartment, but it had no view and was on a noisy crossroads. It was also infested with ants. All in all, our annual holiday was ruined. What can we do?

Simon Keat

Stevenage

Trevor Sears, a lawyer specialising in travel problems, replies: I am not sure which is worse: having nowhere to get a proper night's sleep or having to share your holiday apartment with thousands of ants. I gather you arranged your flights separately from the accommodation and I am assuming you arranged the accommodation in a telephone conversation with the company handling the apartments in this country. To enable you to claim the benefit of The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992, which would give you extensive protection, you would probably have had to book your flights through the company also and because you did not, this will not count as a "package holiday" within the Regulations.

But aAll is not lost, because it is going to come down to what you were told when making the booking, and common sense dictates that you would not have even contemplated going if you had known about the children's bunk beds. You rightly complained as soon as you arrived and I can understand that you had no alternative but to accept the other apartment offered.

On the facts of what you have told me, I would think that you could make a claim against the company booking your apartment, for damages for misrepresentation. This would compensate you for having been provided with something wholly inferior to what you had booked and paid for.

This sort of complaint cries out for an amicable settlement, which a helpful rep should have sorted out. I am assuming that when the booking was made, no conditions of contract were referred to which might enable the booking company to avoid liability. If you get no joy by writing to the company, then tell them you are going to take proceedings in your local small claims court. It should be worth a consolation dinner for the four of you, at least.

Trevor Sears is a partner of Kingsford Stacey Blackwell, 14 Old Square, Lincoln's Inn, London WC2A 3UB (tel: 0171-447 1200, e-mail: tsearsatkingsfords.co.uk).

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