Advice re: discriminatory policies from BA Holidays
Hi all, can anyone offer advice about how to approach a refusal from BA Holidays to compensate for the discriminatory policies put in place by a hotel I stayed at in August?
I contacted the hotel in advance to ask about restaurant booking and also to inform them of my disability. I am recovering from 4 spinal operations and 6 hospital admissions in a year, and so requested a bungalow close to reception as I’m unable to walk distances and use a cane.
Unfortunately the hotel had made significant changes to their advertised services meaning that any guest with a mobility problem would be unable to enjoy the same experience as an able bodied guest at the property listed as being all inclusive. The resort is on a steep hill (not mentioned on BA website) and hot food was only available at the beach restaurant (for an able bodied person it would be an easy walk down as long as you were careful not to trip, quite a challenging walk up and likely to be out of breath if completed in one go)
After I asked for help, use of a car was made available, however this was clearly an ad hoc arrangement and demonstrates that no consideration of the needs of disabled guests was in place. The car was used by resort employees for errands, it wasn’t intended to be used by guests. There was no indication that the car was cleaned before or after transfer and naturally even having to ask for a car to move me uphill was humiliating. I managed to walk downhill once and realised quickly there was no way I’d get back up.
The accommodation fell short of expectations in a number of ways, food at breakfast was crawling with wasps, it was impossible to secure a booking at the one table service restaurant despite making enquiries a week in advance of arrival and the pool shower room and toilet floor was swimming with water. It was like walking on sheet ice. There were no signs to warn of the hazardous walking surface and I can’t imagine that this kind of ill maintained facility met local safety standards. As this was the only area accessible to guests with a disability it’s very disappointing how poor it was. Other issues too but too long to bore you with!
BA Holidays have refused to entertain the idea of compensation. I raised my concerns with the hotel and BA Holidays by telephone, email, and met with resort management. I asked to be moved property on more than one occasion but was ignored.
What should my next steps be? I completely understand that services provided will be modified in COVID times but I did feel I should have been informed of their policies when I booked in July and also that my request to move should have been considered. We absolutely were lucky to be able to get away, my son has been through a tough time seeing me so unwell over the last year and I thought a break would be a treat. I do resent being treated like a burden or a diva though, and the management in the hotel were not only cheating guests but exploiting their staff, they were put in an impossible position.
Small claims or Ombudsman? I’m new to this!
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Although I would have to question the wisdom of foreign travel during a pandemic.
As to the wisdom of travel during a pandemic mentioned by 2 forum members, at the time I travelled Greece wasn’t on the quarantine list, I made the decision to travel with full insurance and followed all measures recommended by U.K. and Greek governments. Neither response added anything to the discussion but I hope you enjoyed having a go
The wider issue surely is wanting them to do better in future and for others, so trying to work with them to improve policies and information would be a more reasonable goal than compensation. I don't know whether you would actually get any further in that endeavour, but you probably stand (slightly) more of a chance of someone being willing to listen than just demanding compensation.
Surely a tour operator (as BA Holidays are) should be aware of the configuration of the resort and also the modifications to services? Likewise if a car service is suspended for ‘safety’ I don’t believe that an ad hoc arrangement could be considered safe.
’Demanding’ is a strong adjective, what made you think I was being unreasonable Spoonie_Turtle? I didn’t take a holiday for humanitarian reasons so I’m not sure why my experience should be used as a learning experience for BA Holidays at my expense
*from a faceless business perspective, with enough abled people who have a decent enough experience to use them again keeping their profits and business ticking over nicely, time and effort and money spent to give more people equal access just doesn't seem worth it - until they understand just how many people would benefit from it and therefore be more inclined to give them their business (and recommend them to yet others still).
And given the current state of the holiday industry, spending money (either on improving accessibility or on compensation) is likely the thing they would resist the very most.
I'm not saying you are wrong to be aggrieved, I know how it feels to be told that somewhere is accessible and then it turns out they didn't think I actually meant it when I told them about my needs (not in so many words, but you know what I mean - they either lied or didn't check or just didn't care). However it does depend on how specific my enquiries were as to how let down I feel in such situations.
I am still having trouble working out what the exact issues were in your post specifically relating to disability other than the car (and maybe the beach if they claimed to have closer restaurants that turned out to be closed?) - maybe I'm missing some implied information, in which case I apologise for misunderstanding. [As I was typing my initial comment I was hesitating precisely because I couldn't quite understand all of the problems; I should have just kept quiet.]
Both the hotel and BA were informed about my mobility problems in advance. Turns out BA Holidays ask customers to fill in a form after they’ve booked a trip in order for them to check the property is suitable, they require 14 days notice and there’s no commitment to honour the price paid if it happens not to be. The first I heard about that was last week, it wasn’t mentioned on the 4 calls I had with them, by the hotel or in the response to my original email. Peculiar!
To me it seems to be three main issues: things that were not ideal but they couldn't be helped [in the short term at least], things they did wrong including where they could have accommodated you but didn't, and things for which correct information to start with would have helped.
It's tricky. If it was advertised as having step-free access then turned out not to, you probably have basis for complaint. The takeaway service being advertised then not being available and if you asked for it but they refused to help, you probably also have a basis there, as it can't have been unreasonable to accommodate your need for it - doing takeaway for one person or pair is quite different from having the means to do it for all. However whether you asked for it while you were there or not, they do absolutely need to know how important it is to have accurate information about services available.
If they didn't follow their own procedures and as a result you suffered more because of it, that's probably the crux of the matter. If you still wanted to pursue compensation, that may be the main basis for it to be honest. It sounds like a whole load of things were unsuitable for you, in isolation maybe not massive issues but as we know the impact is cumulative. I think you probably can't reasonably complain about the car or the uneven surfaces, nor being unable to carry a drink or not having step-free access (unless it was wrongly advertised), but it is of course still worth highlighting most of them still as issues to be addressed to make the resort more accessible.
^ I realise you've already raised the issues so this may all be moot, but if you are trying to continue with it then separating out the issues may be helpful. Or it may not! I don't know.