A family of six from Birmingham, including a disabled mother and her autistic son have described their nightmare ordeal at the hands of TUI on what was supposed to be a special family reunion holiday
Andrew Alexander, 45, and his wife Lorraine, 45, booked the Jamaican holiday with the TUI superstore in Birmingham Fort. They were looking forward to meeting relatives they as well as some new faces. However, the expectations set in store were a far cry from what they experienced whilst in the Caribbean.
Andrew, who is currently unemployed due to a disability of his own, said: “TUI described it as the perfect place to enjoy an unforgettable holiday. For us it is certainly unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.” The family suffered waterlogged corridors, a total lack of care and assistance and many parts of the holiday went wrong.
The family approached the holiday firm to complain about their experience but were fobbed off with a £150 voucher between the six of them to use off their next TUI trip. They have now instructed Bott and Co to hold the holiday-giant accountable for their disappointment and loss of enjoyment.
Planning A Reunion Filled With Sunshine And Laughter
It was very important for Andrew to trace and connect with his family roots in his father’s birthplace of Jamaica and it took him two years to plan and pay for the two-week trip. Over £8,000 was spent on flights and accommodation for Andrew and Lorraine, their son Andre, 16, daughter Latia, 14 and Lorraine’s parents, Herbert and Matilda Murray.
“We went into the TUI holiday superstore and after discussing our situation and various disability needs in great detail, we were recommended the Hotel Riu Ocho Rios in Jamaica, which was described as a large complex suitable for all our family’s needs” said Andrew.
Special Assistance Promised But Not Delivered
16 year-old Andre has a full spectrum autism disorder known as ASD and his mother Lorraine was in need to use a wheelchair and crutches at the time of the trip while she awaited a hip transplant.
“One of the reasons we booked with TUI was because we needed to register my son and wife as disabled and make sure their requirements were catered for. We relied on them to make sure everything was in order so that we could enjoy our holiday.
TUI offer a special needs package which is supposed to make travelling more comfortable for those with a disability. It includes reserved seats together on the plane, early boarding, assistance in the airport and getting on and off the aircraft as well as a quiet room to wait in before the flight.”
Things started to go wrong when they got to the airport with not a single TUI representative in sight and staff having no knowledge of their necessities.
“My wife was not provided with a wheelchair and so it was very painful for her to walk around. We had to ask many different people and eventually we were given a wheelchair.”
Arriving On High, Things Started To Go Downhill Quickly
“The children were very excited about their holiday and they were especially looking forward to meeting family they had never met before. Once landed, there was still no sign of any special assistance and to make matters worse, my mother-in-law Matilda’s suitcase didn’t turn up.
We were told to wait for three more hours for it to turn up. We missed our transfer coach and the luggage never came. Not only was my wife in pain, my son distressed but now my mother-in-law was panicking because her suitcase included her medication. It was one major headache and we hadn’t even got to the hotel yet.”
From Disappointment To Distress
The family arrived at the hotel but had to wait as there was a delay in allocating their rooms. Eventually, they were taken to a room at the far end of the complex, far away from the lift.
“To our horror, when we opened the door the toilet was leaking, there were loose power sockets coming out the walls and the bed hadn’t been made since the previous guests. We had booked 18 months in advance, it wasn’t good enough.
My son Andre started getting worked up, he was so shocked by everything and all the stress caused him to sit on the bed with his headphones on rocking back and forth. His holiday was ruined and for the rest of the trip, he shut himself away from everything and everyone and due to his distress, he missed the association via the reunion.
TUI didn’t meet the needs of our family and I blame them for my son isolating himself. It was heart-breaking to see him so upset when he should have been his happiest.”
To make matters worse, the hotel landing was flooded, making it very hard for Lorraine to walk with her crutches. There was also a constant alarm going off by their bedroom, which Andrew described as scary and nerve-racking.
“My wife had a hip replacement operation booked in for our return to the UK due to previously slipping on a wet floor so the flooding caused her anxiety. This was meant to be a relaxing experience before her operation and she was told by the surgeon to avoid any stressful situations which could create blood clots. It was impossible to avoid stress in that situation.”
My son was in bits, my wife was in excruciating pain and my mother-in-law was without her medication.
The family spoke to the TUI representative every day to raise their issues as well as desperately trying to locate Matilda’s suitcase. They had to go into the local town to get clothes and toiletries. The case eventually turned up eight days into the holiday.” He continued
Last-minute Changes To The Reunion
On the night before the reunion, hotel staff told Andrew that the room where the reunion was originally due to take place was no longer available.
“We had family coming from London and different parts of Jamaica and were told that our plans were redundant. I had a banner and balloons to put up in the dining room and we were going to have a private meet and greet, a meal and drinks. We were forced to have it in an open plan dining area outside, with other hotel guests walking around. It wasn’t very special.“
Fobbed Off With A Holiday Voucher
“It was nice to see my family but everything was spoiled by the hotel and TUI’s incompetence. Their lack of care and support towards my family, especially given our circumstances, was nothing short of terrible. TUI portrays themselves as a family friendly holiday company that looks after their customers which is not what they did with us.
As soon as we got home we went straight to the TUI store to complain to the deputy manager. He passed the details onto their complaints department but they refuted it. Eventually they offered us a £150 money-off voucher on our next TUI holiday between all of us. We were in complete shock; these same vouchers were being handed out on the flight home for free.”
The Alexander family are looking to stay clear of TUI when they come to booking their next holiday.
“We’ve lost all trust in them. My son doesn’t want to go on holiday ever again. I hold them responsible for our holiday hell. They tried to palm us off with vouchers when I specifically want to be compensated. I found Bott and Co during an online search and felt they were the best people to help us.
This family were enormously let down by TUI and suffered a great deal of stress and upset. Prior to the holiday, they did everything in their power to make TUI aware of their disability needs and were assured they would be catered for. They were also faced with sub-standard accommodation.
It is surprising that TUI refused to pay compensation, only offering vouchers. Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 2018 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015, TUI had a responsibility to provide all the elements of the package.”
We go the extra mile to fight for consumer rights on a daily basis and have an excellent record of winning cases. We plan on doing exactly the same for this family.”