National Holidays

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Mary's complaint against National Holidays

Mary Todner

12/10/2018

Not cheap and certainly not cheerful - Torquay 5576N

Complaint against National Holidays

This is additional information about our complaint concerning Tour 5576N 2 which my family undertook on 17th September. Our booking reference was R376848#4. I have written this in detail as I intend to put this on social media for other people to read before booking this holiday with you. We booked the holiday on 27th March for 7 people and told you that I specifically needed a room with disabled access. We asked that the 4 rooms be close together. When the booking invoice arrived there was no mention of this. We phoned you and was told that this would be sorted out when we registered at the hotel. Just to make sure, she contacted the Riviera Hotel the week before our holiday. They said they had no record of my requiring a disabled room as you had not informed them of this. They had no disabled rooms left. At this point we seriously thought about cancelling the holiday. The hotel however then offered me an upgraded room which had a shower instead of a bath at an additional cost of £40. I had no choice but to accept this and pay. We met up in the bus station waiting room at 7am on Monday 17th September, the bus was due to leave at 7.40. When the bus arrived at 7.15 the driver, Peter, loaded the cases into the hold. I had remained seated in the waiting room which is 4 yards away from the bus stand. My cousin came back to help me to the bus and we were absolutely horrified to see it reversing away at 7.30 leaving all 7 of us stranded. My cousin ran towards the bus shouting for it to stop - which the driver did very reluctantly. He didn’t want to open the door to talk to us and only did so when he realised he couldn’t get past us and we weren’t moving. Our group of 7 people got on at 7.35am. My cousin asked why Peter had set off early and he said that everyone was aboard. Clearly untrue. I was last on because I am the slowest. I couldn’t get up the steps. Peter watched me struggle but did not lower the step for me. My family could not get to me to help. Eventually I threw my handbag and crutch up the steps and crawled up the steps on my knees while Peter just scowled at me. It was agonisingly painful. It was completely humiliating and degrading. An elderly gentleman in the front seat came to help me and helped me to my seat. Peter just watched as I struggled. He set off before I sat down and was so bad tempered that he drove the bus over a pavement corner on the way out of the bus station. I was so humiliated that I couldn’t speak. The other passengers were appalled and several came to quietly say he had not done a head count before setting off. We have been on National Holidays before and this security has never been missed out by other drivers. We drove for 2 hours in silence, apart from subdued mutterings from other passengers until Peter issued a truculent list of rules. Possibly the most memorable was his advice on breaking the bus windows if we had an accident - particularly his advice about climbing out over the broken glass. As one of my health conditions resulted from shards of broken glass this was unacceptably brutal. It was all very negative. We weren’t the only ones who were now apprehensive about this holiday. Our second motorway stop was at a service station that was severely limited in choice and exorbitantly expensive, even by other motorway services standards. There was another service station 5 minutes further on which offered more choice and more appropriate facilities. Peter’s driving time was still in credit so why did he opt for a more expensive choice? He then offered an additional trip at extra cost to Cornwall on Wednesday but didn’t say there were very limited seats so people missed out. When we finally arrived at the Riviera Hotel in Torquay we were allocated rooms that were spread out all over the hotel, not together as we had requested. The hotel itself sprawled over different floors, different levels, there was only one very small lift and the corridors twisted and turned with bewildering, haphazard flights of stairs. There was no prior warning about this. The hotel’s evening entertainment in the Show Bar could only be accessed via two flights of stairs: I struggled as I have limited mobility. My room was clean but not for disabled people. The shower had a step and no grab rails. The toilet was so low so I had to take my mobile with me in case I couldn’t stand up and needed assistance. There were no safety grab rails for this either. I paid an extra £10 per night just for a shower. This was not the disabled access room you had advised me of. Used towels (left on the floor) were just hung up, not changed until we took them to reception and complained - daily. My “upgraded” room, 212, looked out over an outdoor dumping area used as storage for bits of wood, a mechanical hoist and cars surplus to space in the car park. No one had mentioned that in the evening the room above me was rented out to exercise and dance classes pounding rhythmically on my ceiling. On Tuesday morning we went on a half day trip to Dartmouth. Peter had curtly warned us that if we weren’t on the bus by 9am he would leave without us. The bus was half empty as other passengers opted out. It took 2 hours to get to Dartmouth and we were only allowed 2 hours there to look around. Not good value. On the 2 hour journey back - highlighted only by Peter making ignorant comments about other drivers – we too opted out and asked to be dropped off in Paignton as we passed through. He contemptuously advised us we could buy our Kiss-Me-Quick hats and rock there. How ignorant to have that attitude. Obviously he didn’t know of any nearby museums. On Thursday we went on a day trip to Plymouth. Again, 4 hours on the bus and allowed only 4 hours actually there. Peter dropped us off at the edge of the city centre at Primark as that was “where you’ll be going”. Disgraceful and derogatory attitude. We caught a taxi to the lovely marina and it was interesting to see other National busses parked up there. So, why had we been dropped off so far away? Peter’s dour parting words? “I want your bags in the morning on the coach by 7.30 or I’ll leave without them.” On Friday after an 11 hour journey, we arrived home. We’ve been on National Holidays before and enjoyed them. This was not a good holiday. The atmosphere was dreadful, at times begrudged and discourteous. I am still humiliated by being forced to publicly crawl up the bus steps. Because of your mistake I had to pay more for a room which was still unsuitable. Your driver was a bully, inefficient and impolite. The trips were meagre and begrudged. This was not value for our £1737.00. I would like you to address these issues,

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