Crete
Crete

Travel question of the day: Simon Calder on refunds for discounted holidays

Have a travel question that needs answering? Ask our expert Simon Calder 

 

Simon Calder
Tuesday 17 May 2016 10:43
Comments

Q We travel a lot and are blessed to have been able to stay in some lovely hotels all over the world. However we found a little gem in Crete: Silvia Apartments, travelling on 24 May with Thomson. The problem is: we paid £203 per person. The same holiday is now £140 each. Thomson said there is nothing they can do regarding the price reduction. Can you help us, please?

Douglas Brown

A At the risk of sounding harsh: while I am always happy to address holiday problems, I’m not sure that you have one.

Crete is at its loveliest in May. The chance to go there and stay for a week at a place you clearly love, for a price that works out at just £29 per person per night, including four-hour flights each way, looks pretty good to me. At the National Living Wage, it would take just 28 hours’ work to pay for a blissful week on Greece’s biggest island. Your property is about half-an-hour west of Heraklion, the largest city, and the astonishing Minoan ruins of Knossos.

I agree that it would be even better to have paid only £20 per person, as the price currently stands. Yet at the time you booked, you were evidently happy with the price quoted.

You could have held on until shortly before departure. At off-peak times - during school terms - packages are often sold off at well below cost in order to limit the losses to the tour operator. But your £203 bought certainty, and entitled you to the much undervalued commodity of anticipation of a Mediterranean escape.

A very few holiday companies and airlines offer the assurance that early bookers will never pay more than other travellers on the same trip. If the price goes down after you book, you’ll get the difference refunded. For example, Saga, catering for 50+ travellers, has a “Price Promise,” which, it says, “means our customers can book early confident that they get the holiday they want and they won’t be paying more than their fellow travellers.

But mass-market operators such as Thomson do not make such a vow - and instead use “fluid pricing” as a means to fill as many beds and aircraft seats as possible while maximising earnings.

Have a great trip. You're still getting far better value than people whose trips are confined to the school holidays.

Every day, our travel correspondent Simon Calder tackles a reader’s question. Just email yours to s@hols.tv or tweet @simoncalder

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