Refund for family forced to flee from freezing cold and damp holiday home – The Crusader

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As Charles and Rose Brown and their children stepped through the front door of the detached house in Tralee, County Kerry, they were knocked back by an overpowering smell of entrenched damp sharpened by a pervasive, bitter chill in every room.  

“We had a video of how to turn on the heating, but after an hour there was no improvement in the temperature, it stayed freezing,” says Rose.

 “There were no matches to light the wood fire in the kitchen or living room, luckily we found some in our car. We kept our coats and gloves on the whole time.

“The bedding felt very damp and thin. We decided to leave our clothing in the car as it might pick up the odour. We dared not risk that for our son’s wedding. It was that bad and uninhabitable.”

++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++;

The family had arrived amid the post-Christmas torpor as dusk fell on December 27, Bank Holiday Monday.  

Two internet codes to use the wifi failed and with no response from the home’s owner to their messages, the family decided to lock up and leave. 

“Time was running out to find another place, we felt the pressure,” says Charles. “We couldn’t understand why the owner, who knew when we were coming, had not put on the heating in advance. 

“The decision to go was right as no quick fix was possible in our view and we did not want anyone to say we had stayed and therefore benefited.” 

The Browns had paid £1,145 for their stay through booking.com, an online travel and reservations agency they had often used before very successfully.

“This time we first phoned booking.com in England they advised us to move rooms, but when we explained it was the whole house, they said they would get back to us,” added Rose.

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“Later that evening they said no compensation could be provided. Our view was that the way the property had been marketed was not a true representation and capturing proof of something such as a stench is impossible. But we had been so looking forward to the wedding and this was really spoiling it.” 

Having a found another place to stay, the family checked the web to see if there were any other reports about the house. 

“We found a similar complaint had been posted a few weeks before from an Airbnb customer,” they told Crusader when they emailed us the next day. 

Keen to get a just outcome for them and one, if possible before the nuptials so the problem would not cast a cloud over their enjoyment of the big occasion, we asked Booking.com to review the matter and help if it could.

Just as speedily it responded, giving the family a full refund, comprised we understand of a contribution from the owner and itself. 

A spokesperson said: “”Our primary aim at Booking.com is to enable smooth and enjoyable travel experiences.  In the rare instance where a property does not meet expectations, we seek to rectify that immediately and have since apologised to the customer, alongside a full refund for the inconvenience that they faced.  We will also be working with the partner to ensure all future guests have a good experience.”

“Everyone did really well for us,” Rose and Charles said when thanking Crusader for our support. “The timing really helped, we were so relieved and it made our stay even more wonderful.” 

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