Review: North Wales
Escorted Tour - Coach
Appalling and potentially dangerous
I booked this holiday with my mother for my mother. (to North Wales) She was recently widowed and I felt that she needed to try to still enjoy things like holidays even though she is now alone. It took some cajoling on my part and she was nervous but we were attracted to what was offered and that it is specifically designed for the over 50s. I felt she would be in safe hands, with people of her own age and that this was the right choice for her.My mother is 74.
There are various issues which I will discuss later but I’m going to cut to the main one which is quite frankly very shocking. On the third day (well second really as they take ALL DAY Monday to get there) there was a trip to a castle and then onto Anglesey. At 10.30 they made their first stop to the castle and were told to be back at 12.30 to the coach. My mother as it happened was the only ‘single’ person on the coach. She pottered around came back a few minutes early, went into a shop right by the coach and came out bang on time to see the coach disappearing into the distance! Obviously she was very distraught but the guard said wait 10 minutes they will be back (how often does it happen one wonders?) so she did and then waited some more and none returned or made contact. Of course can you imagine she’s stuck there alone, now she’s frightened, all names are in Welsh she doesn’t know what to do. It was frightening and traumatic for her. Luckily two dear elderly Welsh ladies scooped her up and put her on a public bus to her hotel which took and hour and a half. At approximately 1.45pm, over an hour after they had left her the tour guide finally rung and said we are turning the coach around at which my mother said don’t bother I’m on the way back. Other passengers told my mum the guide Anna didn’t even notice until they got to their next stop where she suddenly said oh I think I’ve lost someone. No apology was offered although Anna claims differently. Anna you would think would track my mother down when she returned to the hotel and offer sincere apologies? No that didn’t happen, instead when my mum who believe me was utterly distraught by this event (can you imagine the scenarios that may have played out in different weather, different times of day, for more frail people, if she hadn’t got help from the ladies, in different locations etc – doesn’t bear thinking about) came downstairs to dinner. Anna was there and could see her but sat where she was and put her head down – ignored my mother. My mother walked over and said – do you not have anything to say to me and Anna looked up with a snarl and said well what do you want me to say? My mother said well an apology to start and Anna said I did on the phone and my mother said no you didn’t. Anna then said don’t talk to me like that and my mother said like what? Down she said, down. My mother said I’ll have to report you and walked away and Anna followed her a bit and said yeah I thought you would.
Well I’m sure I’ve no need to explain further why everything about this incident was wrong from what happened to the way it was handled. This Anna has no right to be in charge of vulnerable people, none at all. It’s undone all my hard work persuading my mother that she can still have a holiday, it ruined her trip, has left her in a high state of anxiety and of course she didn’t have the trip to Anglesey.
My other complaints about this shocking ‘holiday’ is that it took from 6 am till 7 pm to get there and nearly the same back on Friday. From where we live that is normally a 3-4 hour journey so there’s two of your 5 days gone. I was at the booking and we were shown a specific double aspect room and told how lucky she was to be getting this room as it was special and an upgrade. Guess what she never got that room but was charged a single supplement for being in a double room – hmm can see how that game works. I wrote to the travel company and said you need to sort this and sort it properly and I wanted an apology and a refund. They said they were getting written reports from those involved – that would be Anna and the coach driver she is on very friendly terms with biased accounts only. At some point I asked aren’t you going to take my mother’s account of this trip then and was told oh yes of course get her to send it. It was at that point I knew for sure they weren’t a bit interested, if I hadn’t requested that they take my mother’s written account as well then they wouldn’t have bothered. Needless to say I was right .
Here’s the pathetic response they gave:
I am now in receipt of written responses from all parties involved and feel able to respond with a balanced view.
First and foremost I would like to apologise that this incident even occurred and the inconvenience this caused your mother.
Unfortunately it is correct that Anna left your mother behind at Caernarfon, this was purely down to human error and a miscalculation on her part. There was no malicious intent and Anna is very distraught that this occurred. Once she realised what had happened she felt that she did everything in her power to rectify the situation, including an apology passed on to your mother when she was able to speak to her on the mobile.
It is extremely unfortunate that your mother was not able contact our 24 Hour Emergency Helpline number, which is printed on all our pre-tour information. This would have helped reduce the magnitude of the problem and almost certainly resolved it within minutes. We can only assume she did not have this information with her at the time.
In the evening it appears clear to me that no one handled the situation particularly well and we are prepared, at this time, to accept that emotions were running high. However, we cannot condone threatening and abusive behaviour under any circumstances.
Having said the above, I do understand that as a consequence of the events described your mother did miss out on her trip to Anglesey and for this I am truly sorry. It is quite difficult to place a monetary value on such a visit, so rather than try to be too exact, I am more than happy to offer her £30 off a future holiday, as a personal gesture of goodwill on my behalf. In addition I will ensure that any future holiday goes well and that your mother is safe and well looked after in the hope that this will help restore some faith in holidaying on her own again in the future.
I look forward to hearing from your mother at some stage in the future, when I will endeavour to reassure her to book again. We are a reputable firm that carry thousands of single travellers a year without incident and I am very sorry that this situation occurred.
Tour Services Controller
So be warned everyone if they leave you behind somewhere, the focus is on you not the tour guide to rectify the situation. YOU must ring the emergency number, never mind the guide who has not even noticed she has left you behind for a good hour or so its up to you. As I told them – she didn’t take it and nor would I on a supervised trip I would assume it wasn’t needed. I would take the emergency number for if I ventured off on my own or if I needed it at the hotel room during the night if taken ill etc. I’ve explained to them that had she known she was going to be abandoned then yes she would have taken it.
No apology was given even so let’s say it was given but not heard on the phone when my mother was so distressed – is that really enough ? Wouldn’t any decent human being (especially one who was by all accounts so distraught they had made such a gross error!!) go seek out the person and say shake their hand or apologise profusely? You would think that would happen wouldn’t you but no Anna was clearly to distraught to make the trip to the room to do the correct professional thing of apologising in person.
And although there is a clear acknowledgement that Anna did not handle the evening well my mother is labelled as abusive for asking for an apology? Let’s see, Anna messed up, Anna didn’t go seek out my mother, my mother says she made sure she was very polite (she wanted Anna to face up to what she had done and apologise). Anna said my mother was rude, my mother says Anna was – I wonder who is the most credible in the situation? The woman who failed spectacularly at her duty and didn’t do anything to make up for it, identified by her own company as having not handled it well or my mother the victim?
And oh yes the spectacular compensation for a holiday ruined, a trip missed, a new bus fare shelled out for and immense emotional damage sustained – 30 quid off a future booking WITH THE SAME COMPANY WHO WRECKED THE HAVOC. Are they serious?
I think any mistake can be rectified depending on how it’s handled, it’s what separates the good guys from the bad guys – how the aftermath is dealt with. Not only do UK Grand holidays fail on their holiday but they fail on how they handled it and their subsequent dealings with my mother the victim. This has set her back so much now she won’t go away again. For that alone I’m furious.
Like everything some people will go away and have a nice trip but you have been warned – for those that they leave behind or treat badly it’s a terrible experience. I will continue to fight this but through solicitors now. Safe to say no-one I know will ever darken their doorstep again.
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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.