Not sure which category this really should go into... It involves both EBookers & Halifax so wasnt sure where to put in Holidays or Halifax so have put it here for now...
Anyway, I have managed to get into a sticky situation with Ebookers and Halifax (Section 75 team) and could really do with some advice with this as have exhausted all avenues now and have hit a brick-wall with both Ebookers (owned by Expedia) and Halifax (Lloyds Banking section 75 team).
This is rather a long post so I can tell you everything that has happened regarding this. I would grab a cuppa before continuing, and I’ll try and keep this brief… Here we go!
My sister travelled to Spain in July this year and had booked a Villa through Airbnb. On arrival this turned out to be unsuitable for a number of reasons (this is being dealt with separately with Airbnb). This turned out to be quite upsetting after the first night so my sister rang from Spain to see if there is anything I could do. At this point I quickly realised from the pictures I received they needed to get out of their and find somewhere else. This is where the problems began!
I went off to Expedia, Booking.com, various websites etc looking at hotel rooms around Lloret de Mar for 2 Adults and 2 Children (8 and 3). Eventually, stumbled across a hotel being sold by Ebookers which was all-inclusive and the room stated it was a family room with 1 Double & 2 Singles – Perfect!
Phoned my sister back, said I found a hotel, blah blah, send link over so she could see photos etc.
Told her that I will book on my credit card here and we can sort out the money when you get home.
All good, so went off and booked. Total cost £1,144.37 for 9 nights.
Confirmation email arrived, forwarded over to sister who was then in car travelling to hotel.
Sister arrives at hotel, checks in etc and goes to room to find a small room with only 2 Single Beds. They go back to Reception to be told initially that is a family room! Sister askes where the kids are going to sleep. A lot of ‘flap’ ensues with Reception phoning different people. Told to go back to room and someone will be along shortly with a solution. Sister messages photos over WhatsApp and basically says not sure what is going on… I told her to sit tight for a bit and see what happens.
Eventually she went back to the hotel reception and spoke to a manager. They explained that the hotel keeps having this issue where Ebookers place a booking with them, but the rooms are not suitable for a family of 4. They apparently have made Ebookers aware of this but it keeps happening.
The only ‘solution’ the hotel could provide was to put another 2 beds into the room. By this point it is gone 7pm in Spain, my sister and family went off for dinner whilst they waited for housekeeping to add the extra beds into the room.
However, when they got back to the room, I can only describe from the description and photos sent that the extra beds were basically shoehorned into the room. Literally all the beds are touching together (one huge bed – kids loved it!) however, you now could not open the balcony door at all, had to climb over the beds to physically get into bed, couldn’t open drawers because the bed was touching them, and was very difficult to get into the bathroom, let alone trying to move with 2 suitcases in the room as well.
Anyway, this is now up to 8.30pm and the kids are tired. My sister now getting very upset, returns to Reception. Manager has gone home. Asks if this is really the best they can come up with and there are no larger rooms available? None. All rooms are the same size. Asks for a manager who is just the night manager who says he cannot do anything until manager returns in the morning.
Sister then rings me in tears, doesn’t know how they will be able to stay in a room like this for 9 nights, is fed-up, tired etc. Told her to calm down, the kids are fine (and loving the huge bed ), told her I will call Ebookers and get them to step in and try and sort this out or get them to move the reservation to a suitable hotel.
I then call Ebookers, and spend basically the next 3 HOURS on the phone dealing with the *worst* customer service I have ever experienced. All ‘contact’ is with Customer Services in India who in my opinion have no empathy towards the customer situation, and I ended up just getting transferred to multiple people who couldn’t do anything and kept trying to refer me to the hotel. I even ended up getting transferred to Ebookers ‘wholesaler’ of rooms, HotelBeds, who were surprised to even have a customer on the phone.
Ended up telling me sister to go to bed, nothing can be done tonight and will sort out in the morning.
I then spent the evening looking at other hotels in the area, and cross-checking details to make sure the room was actually suitable. Found a couple of places, but both more expensive.
Called up the hotel the following morning and spoke to the manager. Explained everything that happened yesterday with Ebookers and the hotel and made it quite clear that the current room set up was unsuitable and either a larger room needed to be provided or transferred to another hotel (the hotel is part of a chain and has a number of hotels in the area).
Manager said give me 30 mins to check with his reservations team etc.
Called back and was told that there was a room available in a hotel further up coast (20 mins away in car) which was large family room, but as this class of hotel was different, there would be an extra charge of £400 (£400 something – can’t remember exact figure). Told him this would be fine and go ahead and change the booking.
Sister and family had breakfast and packed up and travelled up to other hotel and finally began their holiday.
So, upon their return to the UK, got all the details, photos, confirmation emails etc etc altogether and fired an email off to Ebookers customer services. Waited and waited and waited (14+ Days – no response). Called up, asked for this to be escalated as had not heard anything. Apparently, the reason I was hearing nothing back from Ebookers was because the difference of name on the email and the reservation.
Was advised that it was not Ebookers issue and to take it up directly with the hotel. Refused and told Ebookers that I booked with them, not the hotel and they are the hotels agents and they need to deal with the hotel. Complaint went back into Ebookers system and silence continued.
Got fed up with this and emailed CEO of Expedia and Head of UK Customer Service for Ebookers.
Complaint was then escalated internally to ‘Premier’ Customer Service at Ebookers.
After some emails, back and forth, Ebookers refunded the £400 or so to change hotels, along with £100 compensation.
Refused this, explained that due to spending upwards of 8 hours dealing with this, I would like a full refund of the initial £1,144.37 paid also. Ebookers refused.
Told Ebookers this is your final chance to ‘put this right’ and learn from their ‘mistakes’ before I asked Halifax to put a chargeback through. Told there was nothing further that could be done.
Emailed back to the CEO explaining my full disgust and disappointment with whole situation etc etc.
Called Halifax Credit Card and explained briefly all the above. Told that this was enough to on.
Halifax then sent a letter about a week later asking to send more info and this could be emailed across. Did this, hear nothing for weeks. Chased, told they would be in touch. Eventually this escalated into a complaint with Lloyds Banking due to no contact (was 30+ days since sending info).
Then received two emails sent by different people at Lloyds apologising over delay. Turns out they had lost emails etc. Re-sent info over and asked if this could be looked at as a priority.
I then receive the below via email from Halifax on Friday 28th Sept:
Dear Mr 123NeilyB
Card Number: **** **** **** 1234
Transaction Details: Ebookers.com
Transaction Amount: £1,144.37
Transaction Date: 19/07/2018
I am contacting you regarding the above transaction.
I am sorry to learn of the difficulties you are experiencing with this merchant.
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 covers purchases made using the card costing between £100 and £30,000, where a misrepresentation or breach of contract has been proven.
I would advise that you as "the cardholder" are the debtor in this agreement and therefore must establish a valid claim for breach of contract or misrepresentation against the merchant to whom you made the card payment.
In this instance, the agreement is between yourself, and the merchant, Ebookers.com, who have fulfilled their obligations by passing the funds to HTOP Olympic Hotel. Any breach of contract is by HTOP Olympic Hotel, who is not a party to the credit card transaction.
If you accept this decision and you still wish to pursue the matter with Ebookers.com, you may want to seek independent advice, perhaps from your local Trading Standards Office or Citizens Advice Bureau.
I am sorry that this may not be the outcome that you were hoping for however I hope that you will understand this decision.
A.Person | Customer Service Advisor | Section 75 | Card Operations | Lloyds Banking Group
Andover Credit Card Operations, BX1 1LT
Now, to me, this email in itself contradicts what it is trying to say.
I called Halifax Credit Cards to try and get an explanation. Told that ‘Section 75’ team do not deal with inbound calls, and advisor could not see actual email above but could see the correspondence between Halifax Section 75 team and Ebookers.
After pushing the advisor for an explanation of how Section 75 have come to the above, it transpires this comes down to the fact that Ebookers have responded to Halifax and according to Ebookers terms and conditions of booking, they accept no liability in the accuracy of information on their website.
This left me rather astounded. In my eyes they have just ‘wriggled out’ of this by relying on their T&C’s.
I have responded to the above email to the Section 75 team with the below email (not mentioning that I have called up and spoken to someone and know about Ebookers trying to wriggle out by relying on their T&C’s)
Dear Mr Section 75 Advisor.
Thank you for your email.
I have tried to call and discuss this but apparently the ‘Section 75’ department is not ‘customer facing’.
I find the below email misleading. Let me break this down piece by piece:
I would advise that you as "the cardholder" are the debtor in this agreement and therefore must establish a valid claim for breach of contract or misrepresentation against the merchant to whom you made the card payment. Correct – The merchant in question is Ebookers.com
In this instance, the agreement is between yourself, and the merchant, Ebookers.com – Correct up to here - who have fulfilled their obligations by passing the funds to HTOP Olympic Hotel. Any breach of contract is by HTOP Olympic Hotel, who is not a party to the credit card transaction. Incorrect – it is not my job as the consumer to identify breach of contract between the website and the hotel.
I booked and PAID to EBookers, not the hotel. If a reversal is performed, then it is up to EBookers to recoup their losses from the hotel.
At the end of the day, due to a mistake either by either EBookers or HTOP Olympic Hotel, my sister and her family suffered due misrepresentation because the website was misleading.
So, as I do not accept this ‘decision’, I would like this escalating higher within Halifax/Lloyds to be re-assessed.
So, fellow Caggers, thank you for reading all the way to the end!
Note, I have DSAR’d Halifax already to get ‘everything’ they have regarding this as they refused this give the info over email the other day. Just to see what they have been 'discussing' with EBookers...
Also, I don’t think I will get anywhere by going back to Ebookers – they have already stated their case.
The hotel I am pretty certain will just point me back to Ebookers.
Just a note. If Ebookers had been cooperative at the beginning and the problem had been sorted on the evening this all happened, then we would had no issues paying the booked rate at all. It was the subsequent failures by Ebookers that have really upset us and that is why we were looking for a full refund.
Thanks a lot. Neil & Kim