At the weekend I wrote about how Thomas Cook had changed the hotel we had booked, despite it being booked back in January, and had also lied to us in the process. You can read the story up to that point here.
Well, since then people have been asking me for updates and I have had so many comments on my blog and also across social media offering support, advice and people looking for alternative holidays for us that I thought I should post an update to let you know what has happened between then and now.
Saturday evening I wrote that blog post and between then and Monday morning I had received two tweets from Thomas Cook asking for my booking reference, which I gave, but no other reply. Thankfully @ThomasCookCares (amazing name, I know) got in contact after someone tagged them and took the details to escalate it for me. By this point I’d also emailed a PR contact I had in the hope of getting a resolution.
I had a phone call early Monday morning from someone fairly high up in customer relations with Thomas Cook to tell me she was dealing with it, it would be all she did that day and they were liaising with Malta to try and work out what’s happened and what they could do about it.
At 5pm Monday we had answers. As I expected, the original hotel had been overbooked so we had been kicked out to a hotel that, even Thomas Cook admitted, was not on the same level as the original one. They couldn’t explain why they’d lied about the original hotel closing and apologised, promising it would be looked into internally.
Then they gave me options. We could go back to our original hotel BUT would have two separate rooms, with a child and adult in each room. I declined this immediately as it would split our family in two for two weeks. Dave and I would have no time together as a couple in the evenings and would sleep apart for two weeks. It just couldn’t have been more wrong.
The next option was the replacement hotel – which we really didn’t like. The main issue was us and the children being in the same room for two weeks – we disturb each other spending one night in the same room in a hotel let alone two weeks. It had been a hotel we’d looked at when originally booking our holiday but had discounted it immediately.
Another option was any other holiday that Thomas Cook had available. But having scoured their site there just wasn’t anything that was right for us. This was our first family holiday abroad. A holiday we had been hoping for since LP was born – the day when we could take them both on a plane for the first time. We wanted it to be perfect.
We didn’t mind where we went as long as there was a separate sleeping area for the kids. We wanted all inclusive so we could have a proper break – no cooking or washing up – and we didn’t want any extra costs, like having to pay for food and drink on top. We also wanted flights that were ok for the children, getting us there in the afternoon so we still had part of our first day and leaving in the afternoon/evening so we really got the most of our holiday time.
But Thomas Cook didn’t have anything that ticked those boxes – apart from Turkey, which we didn’t even take time to look at. So we went with Thomas Cook’s final offer – a cash refund, increased because of all of this and in the hope that we could then find a holiday with a different company.
But, we have specific dates booked off work. Due to Dave and I working shifts around each other it isn’t often easy to get time off together. But we managed it. Two weeks off work with Dave finishing nights the day before and back on lates the day after we fly home.
We also have a hotel and parking at Gatwick for the night before, the cat booked into a cattery and all these other things you sort out when you have a holiday to look forward to. I have been looking at other holiday websites, constantly since we found out we would be getting a refund – and not going on our planned holiday after all.
But there is nothing that ticks our boxes. I know, I may be stubborn, but I want the children’s first time on a plane and our first holiday abroad as a family to be perfect. To be as perfect as it would have been if Thomas Cook hadn’t messed up so spectacularly. Because of that I won’t be sharing a room with the children for two weeks, I won’t be going for just a week when we deserve the two weeks we had planned, and when we so need those two weeks together as a family, and I won’t be going self catering when we had saved so hard to be able to afford that all inclusive holiday and have a proper break away.
At the moment it looks like we won’t be going away this year, that instead we’ll probably be going to Cornwall for a week or driving over to France – maybe taking the kids to EuroDisney. But whatever happens, at some point we’ll have our first family holiday abroad and it will be an amazing one – the one we had planned, just later than we had hoped.
I just hope that if that is the way things turn out that the children aren’t too disappointed at not going on a plane just yet, that they’re upset at not going to Malta and don’t really remember all those photos we showed them – and the plans to go to Gozo on a boat trip.
Right now I am so sad, but have been sad since I originally heard from Thomas Cook last Saturday. At least now, as well as being sad, I have come to terms with the fact our first family holiday abroad may have to be postponed. I know that when we do, finally, take the children on a plane it will be everything we had hoped it would be – whether that is this year or next. But one thing’s for sure, it won’t be through Thomas Cook.