Questions of Cash: June 2016

Posted on June 20, 2016 · Posted in The Independent

Q. I went on a ski holiday costing £1,426. The holiday was badly affected by a huge group of guests who took over the coach transfer and hotel with drunken rowdy behaviour, foul language and banging on our room door in the middle of the night.  The group was so noisy and foul mouthed that I could not converse with my partner at dinner. We arrived on a Saturday and this continued until the Thursday, the day before we went home.  It ruined my ski experience as I was so stressed and tired every day.  Inghams apologised and said it would review their procedures.  It also said: “With our summer season and accordingly our summer staff training just around the corner, we will also seek to include reference to your case as a case in point, to ensure that our staff are better equipped to handle any difficult situations as may arise where our guests’ behaviour impacts on the enjoyment of others. Equally, it will be reinforced that guests are not to consume alcohol on transfers – something which I am sorry was not dealt with at the time that you travelled with us, giving the impression that the group could ‘do as they please’.”  Given how unpleasant this made our holiday, we asked for reimbursement of 65 per cent of our holiday costs.  Inghams said that as “there were a number of elements of your holiday which were provided as booked and unaffected by the above, we do not consider that this is appropriate”.  Instead they offered us just £75 per person “as an expression of our regret that your holiday was disrupted by the thoughtless behaviour of others”. If our experience was so unpleasant that they are using it for staff training surely it warrants a proper compensation payment, not a puny ‘goodwill gesture’? BD, by email.

A.  Inghams does not deny that your holiday experience was badly damaged by the behaviour of other holidaymakers.  It also seems to accept in its correspondence to you, that its staff should have handled the situation better.  Its comments to us have a different tone.  Louise Newton of Inghams says: “All of our teams, including our most senior overseas director, did their absolute utmost during [the reader’s] stay.  To wit, members of the other party were ejected from the property early in the week.  The popular property is well run with experienced staff who we believe reacted with alacrity to the unexpected issues which arose.”  The offer from Inghams has marginally improved: instead of offering you £75 per person, it is now offering £100 per person, plus an additional £100 credit voucher for a future Inghams holiday.  That seems irrelevant, as you understandably do not want to go on holiday with Inghams again.  To make things worse, Inghams offers you “personal 1-2-1 advice and guidance when booking new holiday with Inghams”, which almost makes it sound as if you share the blame for picking the wrong holiday.   Inghams declines to further improve its offer.  It is a member of ABTA – the Association of British Travel Agents – which has a complaints scheme when a holiday has gone wrong.  We suggest you take advantage of this. The website link is https://abta.com/holiday-help-and-complaints/register-a-complaint.

Q. I was interested to read that Legal & General recently opened a factory to manufacture pre-fabricated homes, to be assembled rather than constructed on site.  I wondered what the attitude of mortgage lenders would be to this?  Will mortgages be available for pre-fabs?  RS, by email.

A. Ray Boulger of mortgage brokers John Charcol replies: “Most lenders stipulate that properties with non-standard construction are not acceptable security, but the definition of non-standard can vary. However, just because part (or even all) of the property is manufactured off site and then assembled on site doesn’t make it non-standard. In fact there is an increasing trend for this to happen as it can offer certain benefits to the builder without compromising quality, such as reducing time on site and avoiding delays caused by bad weather. Factory construction may actually help to improve quality because it may be easier to ensure greater consistency of construction and hence better quality control. A key issue for lenders on new build properties (or one less than 10 years old) is that the property has an NHBC or similar guarantee for at least 10 years. Providing this is available the fact that factory construction was used is unlikely to be a problem.”

 

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