A Tale of Thomas Cook

Before children we went abroad every year – a couple of times a year but when LP and Little Man came along we decided to wait a while before taking them abroad, when they’d be old enough to appreciate it and when we could all enjoy it as much as possible.

So last year we started looking at holidays for this summer. Our criteria was anywhere sunny, close to a beach and around £4k for our family of four. We wanted all inclusive and the main part was that we wanted the children to have their own sleeping area, somewhere we could close the door on in the evening and have some time to themselves. I’ve mentioned before how sharing hotel rooms is never a good thing for us and so for two weeks in the sun this aspect was a necessity.

In January Thomas Cook had a sale on and a hotel we’d looked at before and not been able to afford was suddenly closer to our budget. The DB Seabank Resort and Spa in Malta looked perfect. It had kids clubs, an indoor soft play area, a lovely kids pool with slides and most importantly family rooms with a sliding partition so we could put the children to bed and then relax by ourselves in our room or on the balcony/terrace.

So we booked our holiday, paying the deposit partly in cash and partly in Thomas Cook gift vouchers. We then had the next three months to save up the balance – about £3800. In that time we found out that through Dave’s work he could get a 5% discount on Thomas Cook vouchers, so instead of paying for the holiday in cash we bought vouchers, saving ourselves just short of £200 and thought nothing more of it.

The kids have spent the last months talking about their first time on a plane and asking what Malta will be like. We’ve spent time talking to them about how all inclusive works, about the pool, the beach and showing them photos of the resort. They couldn’t be more excited.

Then a few days ago I had an email telling me our holiday was coming up and asking me to pick seats on the plane. I responded immediately, looking at a layout of the plane, picking seats that would be good for the children and getting so excited – less than a month to go!

Then today I had an email telling me that due to a hotel closure our hotel had been transferred to the DB San Antonio Resort and Spa, also in Malta. But this hotel didn’t have the little soft play, or a nice children’s pool – just a new pirate ship pool that looked uninspiring, a beach that looked dirty and family rooms that didn’t have that space to put the children to bed first, just a lounge and bedroom in one and not the space we needed for two weeks away. It wouldn’t have been a hotel we chose and so I was unhappy to say the least.

So I rang Thomas Cook and after half an hour on hold was told that I had to ring the store, as I booked in store – although to me Thomas Cook is Thomas Cook, they should all be able to help regardless of where it was booked.

So I rang the store and after the phone ringing for ages I spoke to someone who said they’d try and find out more about why the hotel had changed – as I said on DB Seabank’s social media they are very much open with no signs of imminent closure. She also confirmed, what I knew from looking online, that there were no other Thomas Cook holidays available for our dates unless we wanted to go to Turkey – which, in the present climate, we don’t.

So I waited an hour for a call back and then rang to chase the call, being told I’d get a call back by Monday. However, they actually rang me ten minutes later, telling me that the DB Seabank was definitely closing and that I could either have the change of hotel or I could have a refund – however the refund would be in vouchers as we’d paid in vouchers.

I pointed out we only bought the vouchers as we booked a Thomas Cook holiday and if we’d booked with any other company we would have paid cash – and would have paid cash with Thomas Cook had we known that this would happen. I also said that vouchers wouldn’t help as we would never be booking with Thomas Cook in the future as we had lost all faith in them. This means that if we cancel our holiday we’ll have £4k in Thomas Cook vouchers that we won’t be able to use and will need to find another £4k to pay for another holiday – or not go on holiday this year.

But, the plot thickens as I didn’t really believe that the DB Seabank was closing, as they are a really popular and well liked resort with really good reviews. So I rang them and they confirmed that no, they are not closing and are in fact fully booked for the the summer.

So, Thomas Cook, why have you lied so much? We have now been moved to a new hotel that isn’t what we want or need and isn’t a patch on the DB Seabank. We were told it was closing, yet it isn’t. So this leaves me unsure of why we can’t have the holiday we paid for?

We have been pouring over travel books, reading day trip websites and planning our first family holiday abroad since it was booked. The children are so excited, telling everyone they’re going to Malta and as it stands we may not even be going on holiday – and we will end up one incredibly disappointed family.

We are set to end up with £4k of vouchers we cannot use, no holiday and someone else enjoying the holiday that we had booked through no fault of our own, in a resort that Thomas Cook insists is closing.

I have resigned myself now to not having a holiday. I want our first family holiday abroad to be an amazing one, something we all remember, not in a resort I didn’t choose and in a hotel room that we’re not happy with. But I know the children deserve a holiday and so I would like to know what Thomas Cook are going to do about this. Hopefully I’ll get some answers soon.

A Tale of Thomas Cook


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. Oh my goodness Donna, I am lost for words. The fact they have lied to you is the most despicable thing. I know how much you were looking forward to this family holiday, and how hard you have worked and saved for it – I am so sorry you have been left in this position.

    Sort it out Thomas Cook.

  2. That’s outrageous!!! Oh Donna what a nightmare. I have a small idea of what you’re going through as when I booked my first wedding we were getting married in a very small hotel in Mauritius, we’d booked the hotel specifically because it was small and intimate. A few weeks before we were due to fly out our travel agent told us the hotel was closed for refurb but don’t worry, you’ve been moved to xxxx at no extra cost. The new hotel was huge, they advertised that brides to be had a parade around the pool before their weddings, my absolute idea of hell. Needless to say I camped out in the travel agent until something I considered more suitable was organised, but I did have to pay extra.

    I’d say in this instance Thomas Cook have oversold their allocation of rooms in that particular hotel. There must be something that can be done for you, I truly hope so xx

  3. That is disgusting. You booked a holiday it is not your fault if they have overbooked (which it seems is likely). They should refund the full cash value of your holiday (after all they still get the 4k cash regardless) OR book you somewhere else on a like for like basis. I really hope they don’t mess you around anymore.

  4. Wow, this is disgraceful. Absolutely disgusting. If they’re fully booked then they will have to turf out another family to put you in and also maybe there are more like yourselves. This is so disgusting. I can’t believe they lied to you so blatantly with such a huge amount of money invested in a booking. Absolutely horrifying, I would’ve absolutely been crying my eyes out and after working in travel myself for years I can guarantee I will NEVER book with Thomas Cook again. You poor thing. Hope they sort it but don’t know how they can without putting someone else in the same position, not your problem I know but what a mess.

  5. Oh I’m so sorry to read this Donna, I know how much you’ve been looking forward to it. I won’t book with Thomas cook again either after reading this, I don’t think what they’ve done is even legal. I’m sure you’ll be in touch with ABTA and hopefully they’ll help even if Thomas cook won’t.

  6. Really hope this is resolved, Donna, and that you all get to enjoy your holiday in the hotel you originally booked. I know how much time and thought you have put into carefully planning your first family holiday abroad and can imagine how upsetting this is for you.

  7. This is outrageous and very worrying that they are LYING!
    We were pricing up Disneyland with them but after reading this I can categorically say we will be looking elsewhere. Awful behaviour. I really hope you get some answers ASAP.

  8. It sounds to me like they have doubled booked you, but instead of telling you the truth they have just lied to your face. Hopefully they can sort this out for you and if you do have to go to another hotel, they should at least reimburse you some of the money

  9. That’s absolutely out of order, they have taken no responsibility for their own mistake and have chosen to lie to you instead I certainly would not book with them after reading this. I hope Thomas Cook step up and you get the holiday you all deserve.

  10. I feel very sorry for you. TC has let you down big time. Alas you have fallen foul of a large faceless company thats prime interest like most others is profit. I fully expect that TC faced with higher costs for the hotel of your choice found they could get similar accommodation cheaper elsewhere. A few pounds saved by them across all the holidays people book soon add’s up to a higher yield for the shareholders and consequently higher bonus payouts for the senior exec’s who can proudly boast of increasing percentage yields against difficult trading conditions.

    The local branch found out as you did that the Hotel wasn’t closing and when querying it with their head office were I am sure politely told that TC was not booking customers into this hotel and so had made up an excuse to get them off the hook.

    Large companies seem to believe that their customers are thick or stupid. You however like many of us are intelligent and suspected a rat. You were not wrong either. TC alas are not duty bound to return your booking in cash as you opted to pay with vouchers. Sorry to say that this is just another example of grey suits smiling smugly as they gaze out of their office windows. I would perhaps suggest making a new item from this and trying to get TC some painful publicity (sad looking children) might be one route as no CEO likes to lose face when presented with evidence of their company lying.

  11. Donna that’s flipping disgraceful! I can’t understand why this would happen or why they would think it was ok?! What awful service. I hope you get things sorted as I know how much you’ve been looking forward to this x

  12. Malta is a total hole anyway, it’s like they’ve not bothered rebuilding since the war. Horrid beaches, believe me, I’ve been. Take the vouchers and go elsewhere.

  13. Oh gosh! I am angry for you! This is disgusting! I hope Thomas Cook sort something out. I have heard bad things about Thomas Cook lately but I didn’t think they would stoop so low to blatantly lie!

  14. Oh this is shocking!!! What is going on? Why in the world would they lie about the hotel closing – I really can’t believe the way you have been treated. I hope they take note of this post & get you guys back into the hotel you booked so you can have the family holiday you were hoping for. I’ll share this too lovely – good luck & keep onto them!! x

  15. Oh Donna, I really hope you can get something sorted. People work hard for their holidays and these travel companies don’t know what they’re doing when they mess people about. I can’t believe they’ve actually lied too with what can only be because of an over booking situation.
    Keep us updated with how you get on x

  16. There are no words!!! I just don’t understand how they thought they could get away with lying, that is disgusting from anyone and certainly not what you expect from a large company like them! I really hope they step up and do something about this. I know how much you were looking forward to it xx

  17. I just can’t even, I’m literally there are no words, I think you are handling this with such grace and politeness where you would actually be permitted to be apoplectic with rage, maybe a tweet or two to some well placed journalists or Watchdog might be helpful.

    I hope you get a holiday I really do xx

  18. Absolutely disgusting Donna, I do hope you manage to get this sorted. Holidays certainly don’t come cheap and when you have children to consider it takes a lot of careful planning. Gone are the days of accepting allocation on arrival and just going with it. Will be sharing this for you x

  19. Oh my god Donna this is terrible! Thomas Cook should be ashamed of themselves and I can tell you now that after reading this I will NEVER be booking with them in the future — and to think I believed until today that they were one of the best!!

    I hope they sort this out for you, I really do. But from what I’ve read I really don’t think they’ll step up and take responsibility for what they’ve done 🙁

    Louise x

  20. I once booked with Thomas Cook. They changed my hotel at the destination airport. I wasn’t happy. I’d chosen a particular hotel because I wanted to be in Lindos, Rhodes not 5 miles down the road. I rang them and asked to be moved to my hotel of choice, they eventually moved me. Later I bumped into a rep and we got on really great even chatted over coffee, she didn’t know who I was, and told me a “woman” had been very aggressive and threatened the rep to get her way. I said oh dear that was me. You should have seen her face! Never, ever again they are rubbish!

  21. This is absolutely shocking! I do hope you get sorted. It doesn’t surprise me though, we had a similar nightmare with Hays Travel and Jet2 for our wedding in Cyprus!

    Cta x

  22. Can’t believe this. It seems absolutely insane treatment with the lies especially given the cost you’ve paid. Can you threaten Watchdog? Sometimes that works. Fingers crossed something comes through that’s better.

  23. They have over booked the hotel. It happens a lot as not everyone goes a head and pays in full. there are people who pull out prepared to loose their deposits.

    They have the right to change your hotel but what is not acceptable is they have lied to you about the resort closing.

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