Watchdog and On the Beach

In October 2012, we were disappointed to be featured on the BBC’s Watchdog programme. The BBC reported on 4 of our customers who had a poor experience after booking with us.

We wanted to write this blog post to update our customers with what happened in each instance and the actions we took to resolve the problems.

We hope that this reassures other customers that we do take customer feedback seriously, and that customer satisfaction is very important to us.

The Booth family – Hotel changed a week before departure

In a small number of cases, our hotel suppliers cannot fulfil their bookings. This could be because the hotel has closed or is over-booked. Unfortunately this is an issue across the travel industry (we hate it as much as our customers do), and although we do everything we can to prevent it, it does occasionally still happen.

We know this is upsetting for customers so if this happens we contact them quickly, and offer them a range of different hotels to the same value/rating in the local area.

It’s important that if a customer is unhappy with their hotel on arrival, that they contact us immediately on our 24/7 support line (we text the number to all of our customers before they fly). This allows us to do everything possible to move them to a hotel which meets their expectations.

While we contacted the Booths to offer them an alternative hotel, they didn’t see this email in time and did not have the opportunity to accept or decline a new hotel. This was partly due to the Bank Holiday at the time, and for this we’re really sorry.

We’ve apologised for the distress caused to the Booth Family and offered them a complimentary holiday to go some way to make up for their disappointment.

Sally – Quality of hotel below expectations

All some people want from a hotel is somewhere to drop your things before spending every moment of your holiday exploring, sun bathing, eating out and partying, for others a hotel is about indulgence and luxury.

That’s why we offer a wide range of hotel accommodation on our site, from just £5 per person, per night up to £2,000pppn. Our cheaper hotels are particularly popular with some customers, who expect a lower standard of accommodation but an amazing low price. We call these hotels ‘Cheap and Cheerful’ and we identify them in the hotel description.

We also provide Trip Advisor ratings and reviews to help customers make an informed decision, and encourage them to write reviews on their return to share their thoughts with other customers.

Of course, what’s ‘cheap and cheerful’ for one customer might be a little too basic for another.

If our customers are unhappy with their hotel, we encourage them to contact us straight away. We will then give them a number of options for the same price/rating which we can move them to.

Unfortunately, we weren’t contacted by Sally during her stay, so we weren’t able to help move her elsewhere. Despite the low price, Sally didn’t feel the hotel offered value for money so was disappointed with her stay.

As we weren’t contacted by Sally during her stay, we couldn’t move her to a new hotel at the time. However we have given her a refund of the total hotel cost and a further gesture of goodwill.

Mr Fearon – Website error / miss-mapped hotel

Unfortunately, this was an On the Beach website error. In this case, there were two hotels with the same name, one 2* and the other 5* and the two hotels were mixed up by our system. The customer had been charged a 2* hotel price, but thought he was staying at the 5* hotel.

Unfortunately the customer did not contact us while in resort and we did not have the chance to move them into a more suitable hotel while they were away.

We completely accept that this was our fault and have apologised. Mr Fearon was not booked into the hotel he believed he had originally bought and we have since refunded him the total cost of his chosen hotel. Mr Fearon has accepted our apology and offer of refund.

Mr Hill – Request to change the flight date

Mr Hill’s complaint was regarding the flexibility of the flight ticket he purchased and the additional cost to change it. He assumed the price to amend the ticket would only be the £50 admin fee, while in reality the new cost for the amended date was significantly higher. For this reason the cost to change his flight was the £50 admin fee plus the increased flight costs.

As an online travel agent, we must adhere to the terms and conditions set by our suppliers, in this case Gold Medal and Alitalia.

We understand that it must have been a frustrating experience for Mr Hill and that the true costs may not have been communicated effectively. With that in mind, On the Beach refunded the difference between the original flight cost and what he eventually paid.

Written on 1st November 2012 by

Tanase Rivers

Brand manager & digital marketer, festival frequenter, beach holiday bum, free spirit and lover of Yorkshire puddings. Festivals in the sun are my fave :)

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