Travel & Holidays > Stories

Heartless National Holidays pockets bereaved customer’s hotel refund and refuses to hand it over

Nic McBride

Nic McBride
Mar 2, 2018

Tour company National Holidays pocketed a customer's refund and is refusing to pass it on, after he was unable to travel due to a death in his family.

Allison Bowler paid £180 for a birthday trip for her son Grant, 26, and his girlfriend to travel from Middlesbrough to London and visit the Harry Potter Studio on 22 February.

But his aunt died suddenly a week before he was due to travel.


A Spokesman Said fights for you - be it a company that won't listen or if you're getting ripped off on energy, insurance and broadband. Compare prices and save.

Compare & Save
GBP silhouette

"His auntie tripped and banged her head and she had to be put on life support. Her life support was turned off and she died. The funeral was planned on the Friday which was the same day as the trip," Allison told A Spokesman Said.

She a National Holidays complaint to see if she could get a refund or reschedule to another date.

But the tour company just said 'no, too bad'.

"They were not at all sorry, they had not one bit of sympathy," Allison said.

"I phoned to ask to cancel and rebook a different date but was told I couldn't as the hotel was already paid for.

"I asked the name of the hotel as I would try and get a refund. They told me it was the Ramada.

"I spent all my free time trying to sort this for my son. I phoned all three Ramada hotels until I found the right one. The hotel was very sympathetic and offered a refund straight away.

"They said no problem at all, they would refund the cost back to National Holidays.

"I thought that would be it."

But after raising a National Holidays complaint – the tour operator didn't care.

"They said it makes no difference if we get a refund from the hotel or not.

"They are basically hiding behind the terms and conditions.

"It is pretty unfair they get their money back, but they won't refund us.

"They do not deny they got a refund," she said.

Allison, who is currently out of work, said she simply couldn't afford to pay for another trip, meaning her son would miss out on his present completely.


A Spokesman Said fights for you - be it a company that won't listen or if you're getting ripped off on energy, insurance and broadband. Compare prices and save.

Compare & Save
GBP silhouette



Allison said her son had been looking forward to the trip.

She thought there had been a glimmer of hope when the hotel agreed to a refund

"I spoke to my son and said I have good news the hotel has agreed a refund and you might be going after all."

Allison said they gave National Holidays as much notice as they could.

"I phoned on Monday night when we knew when the funeral was, but no one phoned back."

She phoned again on Tuesday and was simply told National Holidays need seven days' notice.

"But we didn't have seven days' notice," Allison said.

"We gave as much notice as we possibly could.

"They just quoted the terms and conditions."

READ MORE: Most complained about companies of 2017


National Holidays won't help

Allison said it was quite difficult to make a complaint to National Holidays.

"They don't have a complaint form, only a contact us form."

She sent two messages but no one replied.

She sent an email for the National Holidays head office - but again no one replied.

A Spokesman Said asked National Holidays why it was being so heartless and why it would not pass on a refund.

National Holidays customer services manager Tracy Astley told us in a statement: "The details of our cancellation policy are advertised in our terms and conditions, which the customer had agreed to at the time of booking."

National Holiday also gave us a different answer to what it told Allison about her refund.

"National Holidays has a contractual agreement with our suppliers for the hotel and attraction included in the cost of the holiday which are subject to full charges."

Allison questioned why she could not at least reschedule considering the coach would be running anyway, and the trip to Harry Potter Studio was paid on the day.

Here at A Spokesman Said, we're wondering the same thing.

In fact it was not until A Spokesman Said had raised the compliant with National Holidays that it emailed Allison back and showed any sympathy to her plight.

Too little, too late, we think.