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★★☆☆☆

“Unwilling to accept genuine negative feedback”

Written on: 01/01/2014 by InthelandoftheBard (1 review written)

We had travelled to Crete with Simpson in 2012 and were very impressed with the accommodation, reps, etc and hence didn't think twice about booking with them for a holiday in Corsica in 2013. Sadly our experience on the second trip was not so good.

We stayed in two rental properties. One was beautiful but unfortunately it turned out to lie directly under the flightpath into the airport. As the weekend approached the number of planes increased enormously and on the Friday, Saturday & Sunday there was the constant buzz of planes arriving, some large jets, but mostly small private jets. These were no no more than a couple of hundred feet above our heads. We had a lovely pool but as we had to drive to a beach to find peace we might as well have not had the pool. The other property had clearly seen better days but had been very carefully photographed (or maybe they were very old) to hide a kitchen that was falling apart and a ancient and filthy dralon armchair that no-one in their right mind would want to sit on. The pictures in the brochure of the pool and terrace on that property bore no relation to the reality of an untended, scruffy area in need of maintenance - the furniture shown didn't even exist. Neither property had been properly cleaned and checked - there were still old coffee grounds in the machine (both houses) and in one mould was growing on a colander from old food waste still on it whilst the other had an oven tray that was caked in grease and had clearly not been cleaned in aeons (yuk!). The reps did sort out some issues with missing or broken items, although one of them did so with a pretty poor attitude.

A few days after we arrived home I received an email asking me to complete a questionnaire (this is standard practice with Simpsons). I gave my honest feedback on the good and the bad. A few days later I received another email following up the points I had made and seeking to rebut them. It was quite obvious that they thought we were trying to get compensation for the problems we had experienced - we hadn't even thought of this and had simply chalked it up to experience. What really irritated me was that having asked for our opinions, they weren't really interested. In my view if a business asks for feedback then they have to be prepared for both positive and negative comments and act upon them, otherwise why bother. I was so incensed by the response that I fired off another email. This is the last paragraph from that email:

"I was merely disappointed with our holiday originally but the tone of your response and the casual dismissal of the issues has actually made me angry. I note your offer of a discount, however that would not influence our decision whether to re-book even if the offer had not been so limited in scope. The issue for us is one of trustworthiness, in particular whether the photos and descriptions on your website properly reflect the style & quality of the accommodation on offer. We might have considered another holiday with Simpsons had the response to our reasonable comments been a simple apology or straightforward acknowledgement of the issues. Instead we received a mealy-mouthed defence with a tawdry attempt to blame the customer and to deny or ignore legitimate complaints. The website constantly refers to 'luxury' villas: I am still trying to equate the word 'luxury' with furnishings which included a kitchen on its last legs and a sitting room with a grubby brown dralon armchair (La Vigna Maggiore) and being directly underneath a flightpath (La Vigne). Clearly we have differing takes on the meaning of luxury."

The next email from Simpsons did at least produce a somewhat grudging apology and suggested that in relation to the aircraft noise issue they would amend the property description and ensure that anyone booking was made aware - apparently we should have been told during the booking process but weren't. I cannot comment on whether the issue is now highlighted during booking, but six months later the website description hasn't changed.

The pity is that the mis-handled response to our feedback in the questionnaire they asked us to complete has put us off travelling with Simpson in future. There is no point asking for comments if you only want to hear good things and if you are going to ignore or dismiss the negatives.