Written on: 03/12/2010 by Ben Fernmoor (3 reviews written)
We have planned a trip to New Zealand over Christmas 2010 for myself and partner and both my parents. My partner is from New Zealand and we have made the journey together over a dozen times. We usually book flights direct with an airline. This is an extra special trip as we are showing my parents New Zealand for the first time and my partner's brother is terminally ill with cancer so it could be the last time they will see each other. For this reason we decided to book the flights 8 months early in April 2010 - Good move! Unfortunetely we decided to do it through 'Gold Medal Travel Group' and 'Hays Travel' - Bad move! Very bad move!
I use travel review sites a lot so I will spare you the long drawn out saga and bullet point it for you.
- Booked package holiday (flights and hotel stop in Hong-Kong both ways) with Hays Travel arranged by Gold Medal Travel Group April 2010.
- Paid £5579 up front for the security of knowing we had seats at the best price (airfares rise sharply nearer Christmas as there is little capacity (during their summer time) on this route). At time of booking - told we could reserve seats 90 days before deparure.
- 12 September (90 days before) - Called Tour operator to reserve seats and was told they cant do this as 'trouble with system'.
- 23 Sept - our booking passed on to a manager as Gold Medal had not released our tickets.
- 13 October - finally discover that our booking was never confirmed with the airline - we had paid £5579 for stand-by seats!! They have our money and we have nothing to show for it.
- Much hassle ensues with us trying to find out what is happening. Flights by this stage are booking up fast and it looks like there are no longer any seats available on any airline. I ask advice from Kent Trading Standards.
- 15 November - have been rebooked on a different airline. All seats confirmed but we may not be sitting together. Hotel stop on way home now not possible.
- 19 November - finally receive confirmation that we have seats together except from one leg - we wont find out about this until we check in.
- 3 December - just over 1 week before departure! We still havent received our hotel vouchers - not sure if they will arrive before we leave? No word yet on our refund for the forfeited inbound hotel stop? Precious little communication from either Hays or Gold Medal - it appears they have given up on us. Countless phone calls from us over the months to find out information - again at our expense. I could go on but I will summarise it all for you:-
- My advice - AVOID GOLD MEDAL TRAVEL GROUP AND HAYS TRAVEL. ALWAYS BOOK FLIGHTS DIRECT WITH AN AIRLINE. TOUR
OPERATORS ONLY COMPLICATE AND PUT UP OBSTACLES TO WHAT SHOULD BE A SIMPLE BOOKING PROCESS.