Holiday from hell? Here's how to complain

Know your consumer rights and be firm but fair...

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Angry Passenger Complaining To Staff At Airport Check In

Nearly one in four British holidaymakers make a complaint about their trips, according to new research from HolidayTravelWatch.

And a massive 72% of these holiday complaints are about the state of hotel rooms. Hoteliers are not the only ones causing problems for Brits on their holidays, though.

Almost a third of holidaymakers say travel agents have left them out of pocket, while 23% blame airlines for costly problems.

Frank Brehany, consumer director at HolidayTravelWatch, said: "During peak holiday season we speak to holidaymakers daily, and it seems some hoteliers and companies have taken their eye off the ball."

Here's a quick guide to how to complain if your holiday falls below your expectations.

Complaining to a hotel

You can increase your chances of success when complaining to a hotel or accommodation provider by following a few simple rules.

First, be firm but fair, and have a clear idea of how the problem could be resolved to your satisfaction.

Write down a few notes, including dates or times, that relate to your complaint.

And if there is a problem with your hotel room, for example, ask a member of staff to come to the room to witness it first-hand. The more information provided, the more likely they will be able to assist.

If you are making a formal complaint on your return, check out this sample letter written by Which?, the consumer group, which you can download and change to suit your circumstances.

In extreme cases, you may also be able to request your money back from your credit card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which states that credit card providers are jointly and severally liable when things go wrong.

To benefit from this protection, you must have paid by credit card and have spent at least £100.

Complaining to a travel agent

The Package Travel Regulations (Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992), stipulate that the consumer should get what they booked and paid for.

So if your holiday did not match up to the description in the marketing material, you are entitled to make a claim.

The first step in this instance is to complain directly to the company in question, as this may well turn out to be the quickest way to resolve the problem.

If you are still unhappy with how your complaint is handled, then check whether you can escalate your case to a trade body such as ABTA.

Its members sign up to a Code of Conduct that includes an accurate advertising pledge and guaranteed complaints handling procedures.

Complaining to an airline

More than one in ten holidaymakers were frustrated by flight delays, according to the HolidayTravelWatch research. But less than half fully understand their rights in such circumstances.

On flights that take off from the UK or the European Union (EU), you are entitled to compensation of up to €400 (£344) if your arrival at your destination is delayed by three hours or more.

You should request this from the airline in the first instance, and escalate your case to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme such as the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution if you are not satisfied with the airline's response.

Remember, though, that the issue must be "within the airline's control", meaning that you cannot make a claim for delays caused by bad weather, for example.

Air Travel Complaints are Down This Year