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“Heartless” Butlins stalls on refund after cancer girl family is forced to cancel

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jun 17, 2016


Holiday camp chain Butlins has been labelled ‘cruel’ and ‘heartless’ after stalling on a refund – after the family had to cancel their holiday because their four-year-old daughter is battling cancer.

In fact, Butlins first of all told the family they couldn’t have any money back at all – even after a letter from hospital doctors explaining how ill the little girl was!

When relatives intervened, Butlins said they’d allow the holiday dates to be changed – but admin charges would apply!

Little Isabelle Cullen, from Barnsley, has a rare form of cancer, of which there are only 62 cases in the UK a year.

Her parents, window cleaner Brendon and his wife Julie, are at her side at Sheffield Children’s Hospital 24/7, while doctors carry out test to find the best way of treating Isabelle.

Her aunt, Jackie Brannon, told us: “Isabelle’s parents booked this holiday at Butlins Skegness long before Isabelle was diagnosed. 

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“They have been going there for years, but they only go every other year because they have to save up.  

“Brendon isn’t working at the moment and they are having to spend £25 a day on hospital parking charges alone.

“In the scheme of things, a £410-odd refund for a week’s holiday isn’t that important to them right now.

“But they could really do with the money AND, to me, I want people to see how heartless and cruel Butlins have been.”

Jackie, who is looking after the couple’s three other children aged six to 10, added that she had phoned Butlins repeatedly over the past three weeks asking for the money to be returned.

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Sheffield Children's Hospital - where Isabelle is being treated

Butlins say no to a refund

“They just said ‘no’ to start with – they don’t do refunds on holidays! We got a letter from the hospital explaining, but they still refused.

“Then they changed their minds and said the holiday could be re-booked, but they wanted to charge an admin fee. I couldn’t believe it! They also said any extra charges would also have to be paid for. I couldn’t believe their attitude.”

Jackie said Butlins finally appeared to back down after they were contacted by the local paper.

“They made lots of promises about how the money would be paid back on Monday. It wasn’t.  Then it was coming in the next 24 hours. It didn’t come.  

“I phoned them again and they said there were no notes on the file but I’d get a call back. Nothing. I’ve given them the bank account details to do a transfer and still nothing.  We're all totally disgusted.

“I think they are just stringing us along hoping we’ll go away.”

We’ve contacted Butlins to ask what they’re playing at. We’ll update when they respond.

Meanwhile, Isabelle’s uncle has set up a Just Giving appeal here to try and raise money for the family to have a holiday at some point and to donate what’s left over to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

“No one is thinking much about a holiday at the moment,” said Jackie.  

“But it would be a lovely thing to look forward to – obviously little Isabelle is four and it’s all about princesses at the moment, so Disney is the obvious place. But we’ll have to wait and see.”

You can support Isabelle by sharing her story on Twitter and Facebook using the buttons at the top. 

A Butlin's spokesman said: "After a lengthy discussion with family members, it was made clear they wanted a full refund. That happened on Wednesday, at which point we explained a refund would take 5 to 7 working days to be processed.

"The next day (Thursday) the family told us that wasn't quick enough. Therefore we explained we would attempt to make the refund via a CHAPS payment, and this would happen either today (Friday) or on Monday.

"We can confirm the refund will be processed so that the money is back in the family's account by 3pm on Monday."

 UPDATE: Brave cancer girl Isabelle’s fight goes on – but at least Butlins finally pay up

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