We have been customers of Thomson (previously Lunn Poly) since 1990. Most of our holidays, both in Europe and long haul, have been reasonably acceptable and, although we have made some complaints, we have retained a relationship with our local shops, particularly as we found the staff to be of excellent quality. We have spent a considerable amount of money as we often take 3 holidays a year. This year we booked 2 weeks holiday in Paphos, deposit paid at time of booking and the balance to be paid by April 12th, as this date was a Sunday a verbal agreement was made at the time of booking that the balance would be paid on April 10th. Neither ourselves nor the sales assistant realised that this date was a Bank Holiday.
On the due date we arrived at the shop to find a notice in the window saying that they would be closed until 9.30 a.m. for staff training, as this was normal practice it did not cause us undue concern.
We waited for some three-quarters of an hour before we realised that it was a Bank Holiday and then returned home intending to pay the balance via the web. Having little success I eventually telephoned Thomson Head Office and explained my dilemma, their attempts to accept the payment were unsuccessful and I was then told that I could only pay at the place of booking. In the past a day late in payment has never been a problem, although this has never been standard practice. As we had been customers for such a lengthy period we were known to be prompt payers and we did not envisage that a payment on April 14th would cause any problems.
How wrong could I have been! At 4.20p.m. on Saturday 11th April I was telephoned and informed that unless I paid the balance before the shop closed that afternoon then the holiday was lost. For a variety of reasons that was impossible and I was, therefore, told that I must pay by telephone or loose the holiday. I, obviously, paid by phone.
It would seem to me that it is perfectly permissible for Thomson to accept payment 48 hours early but not to allow me 48 hours grace and I find that particularly distasteful. The Manageress at my local shop (Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough) could at least have cleared the problem with a call to her senior management.
With the current credit crunch we are hearing a great deal about fewer people booking holidays outside England, holiday firms are reported to be looking for business but Thomson with their rigid attitude are in danger of driving customers away. There is one certainty in all this, they have lost our custom. .
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Map showing Thomson Holidays Ltd on Hampstead Road