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Hi all, I have an issue re a Haven holiday caravan park which my parents have just returned from, and I am in need in of some direction and advice. I apologise for the length of the post but I figure best get it all in all to give folks a chance to get the bigger picture.


OK a bit of background first...


Holiday was booked through The Sun £9.50 Autumn Deals, through her Sun+ membership. She arrived at the park shortly before 4 pm which is the book in time shown on her confirmation, and waited around 40 minutes to get to the book in desk as there was obviously a few folks waiting to get booked in.


She gets to her accommodation and instantly notices a pungent smell, something similar to 'damp and urine and wet dogs' (these were as she described it to me). Along with this she describes a general uncleanliness of the caravan, such as lots of dust pretty much everywhere, and she said literally everywhere. Along with other things such as holes in the curtains and also they were not hung properly so they closed but with difficulty and they looked like they were rotting and once closed you could see through some of the holes, not really from a distance I suppose but you could see through them nonetheless.


In addition to this, she mentions the cupboard doors had a greasy and sticky film on them, as did the door handles to the cupboards. Also the splash plate and the wall of the caravan behind the cooker top was covered in splashed grease, I would assume from cooking. Upon further inspection she checked the fire, as she wanted to get a bit warmer, and realised the fire was not working, there was a spill of something on the fire and the shield was dislocated and not properly fitted, which obviously raises safety issues.


And on we go, she decides she will trail back to the office but before she goes will make a cuppa, at which point she discovers the hot water heater was non-functional, the pilot light was not on and therefore was not able to get any hot water. In addition to this the fridge was making a very shrill noise and was very loud.


At this point she called the reception, which by her estimate was about 10 minutes after they arrived at the accommodation, who said they would send a maintenance person to come to look at the issues with the heater and the fridge.


When the maintenance person arrives, he fixed the heater, ie turned on the pilot light and tested that hot water was being produced, and he turned down the fridge setting down as he said that the setting was too high, he informed her that the reason it was so high is that the cleaners test the fridges by turning them up to maximum, which obviously causes them to overwork (in his opinion) and they had forgotten to turn this one down, and strangely enough the fridge was the only thing that had actually been cleaned, along with parts of the bathroom, such as the sink, shower and toilet along with the bathroom area in general, the only blot in the bathroom being a rather mucky toilet brush, and I mean this literally.


Once the maintenance fella had gone, she decided to clean up a bit, because by now they wanted a cuppa and needed a sit down. So using washing up liquid from her own provisions that she had taken and hot water, she decides to clean up the kitchen area a bit, thus discovering cutlery is full of grease and grime and generally mucky so she washes the whole set of cutlery and the container it’s all sitting in. (Yes I know a bit foolish but we have realise, she is in her 60s, my dad’s is in his 60s they've been on the road by now 6-7 hours and were just most likely just hoping they could sit down and have a rest).


So they decide after a cuppa to bring the luggage in, whilst she made the bed, and she says the bedroom was ok but to be fair it was dark by now and getting cold and they were getting a bit tired and did not want to go back to the living area due the smell and also the discovery toenail clippings on the sofa and the floor.


They get up the next day, and clean up the clippings and noticed some very severe stains!!! In her words they looked like the 'brown stuff' stains along with general stains caused by dropped/spilled liquids, and she says these stains were 'everywhere' on the upholstery, and the carpet had some stains on it also.


So with all of this, she decides to make a complaint, she arrived and the office was very busy, so they get to one of the reception desk girls, and she explains who she is and where she is accommodated, and that she would like to make an official complaint. So she tells her ‘it is the grubbiest and smelliest caravan she has ever been in’, and she wants it on record so would like to make a complaint. The reception desk girl says all she can do is apologise and mom says well I want it documented and want to make a complaint and again the girl (we have her name) tells her that all she can do is apologise and offers no form of resolution, no advice, no mention that she will tell anyone or do anything and no form and basically (according to both my parents) she then stands there looking at them, so they leave.


Naively she thought she would get a response fairly rapidly, and expected someone would contact them that day, but of course looking back we now know that this obviously never happened. So as the day goes along my mom decides she would buy herself some cleaning stuff to clean up some of the mess and try to get rid of the smell, such as Febreeze and astonish kitchen and shower cleaner and also some disinfectant.


So she arrives back at the accommodation and goes about cleaning it herself, which I know was silly, but that's what she did and I had no knowledge of the ongoing saga at this point, and of course would have told her she should leave it well alone. Then she uses some of the spare covers from the bedroom to cover the seating area, i.e. the settee, and opens up all the windows and sprays around the place with the air freshener she had bought that morning. By now this was about 5.30 and she was still thinking that there was a good chance someone from the site would make a visit to her accommodation based on the conversation she had with the receptionist that morning, and again of course we know this never happened.


So now on the Wednesday, she decides the best thing to do was get up and stay out all day to avoid the stench of the caravan, and of course at this point she had still not seen anyone from the site team. She arrives back at the accommodation around 5.30 pm, so my mom goes into the bedroom and comes out of the bedroom and trips over a loose rug that seems to be all curled up at the edges. So she gets up and realises she had twisted her right ankle and decides to sit on the settee and give it 15 minutes rest and her ankle begins to swell. So she calls the ‘Out Of Hours Services’ at about 6.30 about 45 minutes of her falling over.


So the first aider arrives in good time, and advises the use of ice packs, and decides to wait a short while to see if the ice packs work. She tells the first aider, how unhappy she is and why and he tells her she should make a complaints and she replies with the episode that she has in fact already made a complaint about a couple of appliances and made a complaint in person to the reception desk the previous day. He tells her that when he sees the manager (site manager I believe he was talking about) he will tell her what my mom had said and that she had made a complaint or at least tried to make a complaint in person, he informs her that he believes the site manager is on shift the next morning and also he is on shift too at the same time. She asked him if she should make another attempt to complain, he informed her that she did not need to because he would do it.


At this point he was called about another accident to had to leave, and had not at this point completed his accident report form or whatever form they are required to complete and told her he would come back to complete the form and check her ankle. He returns about 30 minutes later, with a security officer, which I believe was not in relation to anything concerning my mom, just the guy was training for first aid and was helping out for experience, and puts a new ice pack on my mom’s ankle. The original first aider is now filling out his form, asking my mom questions about what had happened etc.


So she explains it to him as I have mentioned above. When she gets to the mention of the rug, he responds with the fact it should not have been there, and then tells her he should not be telling her this, and tells her that he will take the rug away, then carries on with the accident report. He then asks her to read the report, and sign the report, so she reads and signed, and then said can I have a copy of the report please, to which he responds, ‘he was not allowed to provide her with a copy, because, it had his personal details on it’ and refused to give her a copy and gave her no advice on how to about obtaining a copy. (At this point I had become aware of her situation because she called me rather upset and I told her that I thought this was bit suspect and that I was sure he was supposed to provide her a copy of the form, in case she needed to be seen by a doctor or paramedic practitioner for example, they would benefit from know what treatment had already been applied/attempted). So he informs her that ‘the only way she could obtain a copy of said accident report is through solicitor, if for example you were suing us.’


The first aider was generally polite, and did his job pretty well, and tells her she needs to rest but if it’s not better by the morning, she should consider visiting the local A&E and leaves her some more ice packs to use through the night. He tells her that he is going to now take the rug away, partly I suppose because it should not be there, but in his defence also, I suppose, that it avoids any future accidents. Of course we cannot be sure which reason was the strongest in his mind. With that that first aider and his assistant leave. By now it is of course late in the evening and she had a cuppa, took some paracetamol and went to sleep.


So the next morning, she thinks the first aider would (as he promised) to tell the site manager and expects some contact from her. So she decides that since her pain is affecting her mobility she decides it is best to stay in and around the site for the most part and she stay in the caravan with the windows open. At about 3 PM and after talking to myself she decides to send my dad to reception, to make a formal complaint and to find out why no one had visited in light of the conversation with the first aider.


So at the reception, he approached a reception attendant who he cannot name as she had no name tag (I had been telling them to get some names). He informs her that he wanted to make a formal complaint about the state of the caravan and he wanted see the site manager. The reception attendant informs him that the site manager is not on shift that day as he had been led to believe, as it is her day off. She tells my dad she will grab a complaint form and takes him into a private office and goes through it with him, obtaining general details, i.e., name, address, caravan number, etc…and then asks what the complaint. He tells her, it’s smelly, not up to standards etc., all the stuff I have written above. She then asks what ‘level or grade’ of caravan she has rented, and he replies that the level/grade is irrelevant as all guests can expect a clean accommodation as normal to which she agreed.


He tells her the whole saga, including the fact my mom had cleaned up and had also tried to sweep the carpet and a huge amount of dust came up etc., which he told her was unacceptable. So he asked her if there was a supervisor for checking cleaners work after the cleaning has been done and he said, that she says yes, and he said ‘well clearly she has not done her job has she’. He also now informs about the lack of cutlery, the fact they had a six berth caravan but in fact there was not enough crockery nor cutlery to feed more than 3 people and that all of it was dirty. So she tells him she will pass the form and his comments to the site manager. She tells him the site manager is on the next day, he informs her they are due to leave the next morning, 10 AM. She then tells him they are done but does not offer or give him a copy of the complaint nor advise him on the next steps so he gets no copy of the complaint form despite him signing it and asking about it, she tells him the site manager will sort it out.


So 10 AM arrives and of course no visit, so they go to the site office to hand in the keys, and the site staff ask if they had seen the site manager and it appears were surprised they had not seen her and that she had not visited. So my mom says to the reception attendant, I have written a letter and she handed it over to the girl, and informed her she had taken photos of all the faults and would be making an official complaint.


With this they leave.


Firstly the holiday was booked through the sun holiday offer so am not sure who I should be contacting first, I figure that both The Sun and Haven need to be contacted but haven make a state on their website that you have to contact them within 7 days of leaving the accommodation, which I think is rather cheeky, especially as she and other must do, went on elsewhere after they left the park. In addition to this, she had already tried on more than one occasion to make a complaint, which we now of course know, was never taken up nor actioned by anyone.


They also say that if you are still unhappy after you make your first complaint that you can leave on the first day of your holiday, which poses 2 problems, firstly, the first day, was on the night she went into the accommodation (though we can check this policy I expect to confirm if they class this as the first day or not). Secondly, if you complain on the first day, with less than 2 hours to go before the site office staff go home for the night, and you have gotten no resolution at this point, due to the fact no one has made contact, are they suggesting you just leave there and then? How are you expected to deal with the matter if you simply leave?


So I am looking for some guidance and advice here as to what I should saying, which points I should be highlighting and what kind of recompense I should be making claim to etc etc…She had photographs of most of her complaints, but has no record of any of the forms nor conversations they had with various staff.


Thanks in advance



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Sorry if I missed this, but what resolution are you looking for? If the complaint is that the caravan was dirty, a discount on the cost of the holiday might be appropriate. But as your parents only paid £9.50, I'm not sure that the outcome is going to be worth the effort.

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Hi Vauban, thanks for the input, I will try to clarify a couple of points, but first I want to throw in my own thoughts on something you mention re the price (and please understand, this is not aimed at you, but something I feel needs to be said).


Firstly, in my mind it is irrelevant whether they paid £9.50 or £950 (actually I will clarify the full price in a moment), in part this is because the price paid is not an isolated price, there are in fact other costs involved such as fuel, time, paying for gas and electric, bedding etc.


In my opinion, and I'm sure many folks would agree, paying less for accommodation obviously brings less luxury, less 'classy' décor and fittings and generally provides the basics in relation to things like the quality of the beds, quality of the seats, type of cooker, form of heating (i.e. you can hire a caravan with central heating if you so wish) and generally all round you get the 'basics' shall we say and this is fine, people understand this, my parents understand this.


However to my mind what it does not mean is that your obliged to put up with someone else's grease stained cooking areas, someone else's crap on your toilet, a crap covered seating area, someone else's toe nails, and a generally very poor accommodation, in other words you are entitled to feel that you deserve at the least, for your basic price, a clean accommodation, and not one that you have to clean yourself before you start your break. In addition to this, paying less for this basic accommodation, should not mean that you should expect to be ignored and fobbed off and that you should not expect people to take you seriously.


Now in regards to the £9.50, yes this is a problem, because in fact it doesn't cost £9.50, it actually says From £9.50 and is in fact a marketing ploy used by many companies to try to suck you in. I did try to tell my mom this at the time, and though I agree it does provide folks an opportunity to get away relatively cheaply, if you choose the right accommodation at the right time of year, it still does not mean you should be forced into upgrading just so you don't end up in an unclean and uncared for accommodation.


So the price she paid, well this was a little tough to figure out at first because you pay The Sun some cash and then you pay Haven more cash. So here we go, she gets and invoice from The Sun, outlining the costs, £113.55, some of which will be invoiced by Haven directly it appears. So she has at that stage paid £49.75 to The Sun, which works out at £12.43 per person for the accommodation. On this invoice you can see there is also a charge laid out for £31.80 as a service charge, and £32.00 for entertainment passes, as I say both to be invoiced by Haven directly. You can see the document here...[ATTACH=CONFIG]53625[/ATTACH]


So then of course she receives and invoice from Haven, which comes to £77.80, which includes the bed linen pack, entertainment and facilities pass and also the utilities charge. So this brings the total to £127.55, for a 4PM book in on a Monday to a 10AM book out on a Friday, so not looking so cheap, and I agree she did not have to take the bed linen nor the entertainment, but to be fair she is supposed to be on a short break. You can see the Haven document here. [ATTACH=CONFIG]53626[/ATTACH]...So all together, based on four guests, this is £31.87 for the accommodation/utilities/entertainment, per guest.


So, in answer to the question regarding what she/we are looking for, some form of recompense, a discount at the least and in truth I believe a full refund and formal apology would be more suitable, this is taking into account not only the state of the accommodation but the fact that despite multiple attempts to bring the situation to the attention of the management, they failed to address the issues effectively by ignoring them and by what appears at this stage to have simply fobbed off my parents.


All in all the issue is that the whole thing was an utter let down, they returned wishing they had never gone, wondering why not one single person from the management managed to see them, and even though she gave a letter to the reception on her departure, they have still not contacted her. This to me screams of complacency and a general lack of interest and care into the customers interest or welfare. It also highlights something mentioned at the start of this post, that they (at the park) clearly believe that those guests not paying for upgrades do not deserve a clean accommodation nor any time from the management to explain why this policy of laxness and un-interest is in place.


Thanks again...



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