Last December, I booked a property with Cottages.com for this summer’s holiday and paid £3,029. As the date approached, I was given a mobile phone number for the property owner to arrange key collection, but my texts got no response. Cottages.com assured me that I would receive an email with instructions two weeks before our arrival. Three weeks before our trip, I realised the property was no longer listed on the website. Cottages.com told me there did not appear to be an issue, and that I would be called back. I wasn’t. I rang again and was informed that I was on a “relocation list” because the owner had withdrawn the property. It was another nine days before I received notification that it was unavailable and we were given no help to find an alternative.
Last summer I reported the plight of dozens of Cottages.com customers, including author Michael Rosen, whose bookings were cancelled at the last minute, sometimes without notification. Parent company Awaze UK blamed unprecedented demand for overwhelming its systems. This year, once again, bookings for UK holiday lets have soared due to travel restrictions.
VF of Middlesbrough says her mother-in-law’s booking was cancelled eight days before her holiday. Six promised calls from Cottages.com failed to happen, and the only available property in the area was three times the price.
“I’ve spent over five hours on the phone trying to get this resolved and my mother-in-law and her family are left with work leave booked and nowhere to go,” she says. Cottages.com told me that it always offers an appropriate resolution and compensation in such cases – and, indeed, it has now done so, but only after I waded in.
CN has received a £3,029 refund plus the same sum again in compensation, and VF’s mother-in-law has had £900 added to her refund. Cottages.com says: “There are unfortunately rare occasions when owners decide to sell their property mid-season after we have taken a booking. In any normal year we are usually able to find suitable alternatives, but this has been more challenging due to the fact that summer is running at 98% occupancy.”
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