Holiday Complaint Letter

This was actually written by my Dad in late 2001 and, I think, comes under the category "horribly reasonable". I've removed the name of the company for now...

We are writing to give you our account of the holiday in Nerja for which your company arranged the accommodation, and from which we returned last Saturday, October 27. We have deliberately given ourselves a period of reflection before committing pen to paper, so that you could be sure that what we have to say has been fully considered and was not simply dashed off in the heat of the moment. Nevertheless, the letter clearly falls within the 28 day deadline stated in your terms and conditions for the submission of complaints.

It may be helpful to summarise briefly the problems we encountered, before entering into the detail of what occurred. Firstly, there were considerable discrepancies between the description of our accommodation in Almijara II in your brochure and the reality we discovered. Secondly, the condition of the accommodation was unsatisfactory in a number of important respects. Thirdly, the quality of the immediate environment of the accommodation left much to be desired. Fourthly, it took your company a whole week to find us alternative accommodation, and, for much of that time, we were expected to sort the problem out for ourselves. Finally, for the period 13-27 October, we were placed in accommodation which had its own problems and which we could have rented for just over half the amount we paid you for Almijara II. Naturally, we cannot and do not hold you responsible for the fact that Nerja experienced three days of incessant torrential rain in our first week, although the occasional resulting losses of electricity and water did not make life any easier!

To return to the first and most important problem, virtually everything you say in your brochure about the accommodation we booked at Almijara II is completely inaccurate and misleading. It is also clear, for a variety of reasons, including discussions with your representatives in Nerja, that you were aware of most of these discrepancies. Firstly, the brochure states that the accommodation is 10-15 minutes walk to the beach. We checked this explicitly with one of your office staff before we confirmed our booking, because we are both in our early sixties, although fit for our age. The reality is very different. On our first evening it took us 25 minutes to walk down to Burriana beach. We did not attempt the walk back up the steep hill, but it would obviously take appreciatively longer. Your representative at Almijara, Paul GenSavage, concurs with this view. The information in the brochure is clearly inaccurate and misleading, and we would not have booked this accommodation had we been aware of this.

Secondly, the brochure states that there is a shared swimming pool. What it does not say is that the pool always closes on September 30th every year. This is absolutely clear from the pool admission card found in the accommodation which is clearly dated until September 30th only. Again, Paul confirmed that this has always been the case. Our first contact with your company was on October 1st and we explicitly checked out the availability of the pool; nothing was said to indicate that it was already closed. Again, the information in the brochure is inaccurate and misleading and we would not have booked the accommodation had we known this.

Thirdly, the brochure states that the accommodation has satellite TV. It does, but no-one knows how to work the system introduced by the owner, and Paul confirmed that your company has been aware of this for some time. We do not normally spend much of our holidays watching television, but, given the world situation, it would have been extremely helpful to have immediate access to the latest news. Again, the information in the brochure is inaccurate and misleading, and you knew it was.

Fourthly, the brochure states that the accommodation has recently been refurbished; this is clearly not true. I will describe some of the more serious defects in the next section of this letter, but one of your other representatives in Nerja, Karen, entirely without prompting, described the accommodation as “tatty”. The decoration is shoddy and much of the furniture is chipped and worn. Again, the information in the brochure is inaccurate and misleading.

Finally, your brochure states that there are views to the sea from two of the bedrooms. Here we enter ‘Fawlty Towers’ territory! This is just about true of the main bedroom, but in the second bedroom it is only possible to catch a small glimpse of the sea if you stand on a chair! Again, Paul was most uncomfortable about the accuracy of this statement in the brochure. You may also wish to note, although it was not a problem for us, that the accommodation is arranged in two double bedrooms and one twin bedroom and not the other way around as stated in the brochure. This could be important for some holidaymakers; in any case, it seems simpler to get it right.

The second overall problem that we experienced relates to the substantial defects in the accommodation itself. Firstly, and this is not a trivial matter, the kitchen tap unit would not function properly. It operated only in ‘full on’ mode, which drenched the user, and was impossible to switch off completely, dripping incessantly and disrupting our peace and quiet, particularly at night. A plumber that Paul called in was unable to effect a repair and said the only solution was to install a replacement tap unit. We were informed that, when this problem was raised with you previously, your response was that it was not worth repairing as it was almost the end of the holiday season. We simply stopped using the tap, thereby causing ourselves much inconvenience.

You were also aware, apparently, of the fact that it is impossible to use the utility room safely, and therefore the washing machine, because it is blocked by a large quantity of broken glass, and that one of the stairs has a loose wooden board. We fail to understand why these dangerous situations were allowed to continue. Other problems included exposed electrical wires, both to the front porch light, which incidentally did not work, and in the back bedroom, whose electrics were idiosyncratic to say the least. Finally, the bedlinen and towels provided were acknowledged by Paul and his wife, Lynda, to be so worn as to be of unacceptable quality; we certainly would not choose to use them in our own home.

Our third area of general complaint concerns the unsatisfactory nature of the overall environment at Almijara II. The main problem is the long-established cement factory in the Rio Chillar valley, and the fact that an unending succession of very noisy lorries make their way up and down this boulder-strewn waterway very close to our accommodation. The first lorry on Wednesday 10 October woke us up just after 7.00am, and we counted ten (10) more before 8.00am. Apart from the noise, the problem is further exacerbated by the clouds of dust thrown up by this traffic, and the consequent need to keep the windows in the accommodation shut for most of the time. All this is hardly conducive to a successful holiday.

We informed Paul of these multiple problems on Tuesday morning (October 9th), well within the 24-hour deadline stipulated within your terms and conditions. After much deliberation we decided to request a change of accommodation and Paul agreed that this was the most sensible course of action. We have never ever had to do this before. Paul said he would contact you as soon as possible and we anticipated an early resolution of the situation. We couldn’t have been more wrong! We eventually moved on Saturday 13th October after a series of events worthy of a Whitehall farce, only we weren’t laughing.

Things started promisingly. On Tuesday lunchtime Paul and Lynda showed us round no.78 San Juan Capistrano. Although it was much further from the beach it had some attractive features and during the afternoon we made up our mind to accept it. However, when we returned between 5-6pm to take a second look, we discovered luggage in the hall and the owner of the property asleep in the bedroom. He was not amused and neither were we, because the whole exercise had been a completely incompetent waste of time.

The following day, Wednesday, October 10th, Paul came up with five further possibilities. Two were with the James Perez agency, but that was shut because of the annual fair. The third was another property on San Juan Capistrano, but several phone calls eventually established that the owner was not available to show us round on that day. This did not seem to matter since the other two properties were with another agency run by John Corderoy, and included, according to Paul, a luxury apartment near the Balcon de l’Europe. However, when we went to look at it, in a torrential downpour, it turned out to be nowhere near the Balcon, but on a very busy and noisy road junction near the Hotel Monika. Furthermore, the room we were shown and the remainder of this new apartment block were seriously affected by a number of considerable water leaks. The ‘swimming pool’ was also ludicrously small.

So we were back to square one, back to a third night in our original accommodation, where we were finding it increasingly difficult to have a good night’s sleep, due to the incessantly dripping tap, poor quality mattresses, and an extremely noisy water system, which got worse after the lengthy interruption to the supply. Not to mention the lorries.

We were also not amused at the extent to which we were left to our own devices, after the Tuesday, to solve the accommodation problem. This is not a criticism of Paul GenSavage, who appeared to be as helpful as he could, within what we took to be his limited responsibilities on behalf of your company. He even gave us the use of his key to the pool on Almijara III, although the appearance of a rat in the ladies’ changing rooms brought our use of this facility to a sudden end! We had not created the accommodation problem and we were surprised to be expected to make all the arrangements – telephone calls (there was no phone in the property and it was usually pouring with rain), meetings, etc., etc., - to sort it out. Nevertheless, we eventually arranged to see three properties on Thursday, October 11th, but no-one was prepared to show us round until very late in the afternoon; another day lost from what should have been a holiday.

We decided on the Friday morning that we would take the apartment we were offered at No.5 El Califa, largely because its pool was still full, unlike the property at Pinomar, which we had in any case been unable to see inside. We were also quoted £175 per week by Juan Perez for El Califa, which was considerably less than we had paid you (£300 per week) for Almijara II. We then discovered that the James Perez agency was on holiday again, so no action could be taken until the Saturday. On the Saturday morning, there was a further delay while James Perez insisted on checking with you that we could move into the accommodation, even though it is in your brochure and had been specifically offered to us as an alternative to Almijara II. We eventually moved at about 4pm, and immediately enjoyed a swim in a rather dirty pool; Debbie at James Perez had assured us that it normally remained open through October, but ‘it depended on the weather’. Since the sun had returned, and remained until the end of our holiday, we thought all our problems were over; we were wrong-again!

On the following day, Sunday 14 October, we got up to discover that the pool had been half drained, and it remained irritatingly half-full and impossible to use for the remainder of our stay. We informed Debbie of this immediately, but no action was taken. The mattresses were even worse than at Almijara, and we were eventually obliged to sleep in separate beds to get any rest at all. The soundproofing was virtually non-existent, and the people upstairs spent most of the night playing football in Doc Martens. The last straw occurred when new arrivals for No. 4 next door woke us up in the middle of one night because they had been wrongly informed that their accommodation was in No. 5.

Please accept our apologies for the length of this letter, but we have never had to articulate such complaints before, and it would be difficult to do justice to the depth of our discontent without going into some detail, although we can assure you that not everything has been included even now. We went to Nerja full of high hopes for an enjoyable holiday, and a complete rest after a hectic year. We came back in need of a further holiday (which we cannot afford) to recover from our experiences.

We look forward to receiving, as soon as possible, your comments on the problems we encountered, and your proposals for compensating us for the considerable disruption and distress we suffered. Please let us know if you require any additional information or evidence.