I've made a huge mistake - non-refundable

I've made a huge mistake, I think I know what will happen but interested in other views?

I was absolutely overwhelmed with choice for a couples spa experience (first one in maybe 10 years plus!) it was a gift for my husband (and me). I arranged childcare (which we almost NEVER do) painstakingly selected a package through a third-party spa experience site that I thought would be ideal. 

But I missed one key activity... checking the reviews. Now this is inexcusable I know. But I didn't really read and take in the reviews until after booking this non-refundable experience. There are usually always negative reviews that you have to take on balance with the good, but please believe me when I say this venue is thoroughly and completely slated and berated and called out left right and centre online.

So normally when you find bad reviews you just have to bite the bullet and try it for yourself and see what happens. But this time out is sooooooo rare for us I just don't want to waste it on what seems will be a horrendous experience and not to mention the cost. 

It has been called out for being cold, dirty/unhygienic, old, broken facilities, shocking customer service, scamming and giving people 10 minute treatments instead of the allotted 40 etc etc.

I think they will come back and say non-refundable use it or lose it. But I just wondered if anyone thinks a chargeback may be possible instead of going? The time is so rare that I'd rather cancel than go and have a bad experience.  Surely it makes more sense to refund without us going than for us to go and request a refund because it didn't live up to its 'Blissful' name. 

Any thoughts other than I'm stupid and I deserve this?

Thanks in advance 

P.S this is a theme for me, whenever I spend literally hours checking up and calculating and trying to get it exactly right, I make a stupid decision at the last minute. I. Never. Learn.


Comments

  • MorningcoffeeIV
    MorningcoffeeIV Posts: 1,882
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    edited 22 September 2023 at 4:51AM
    There's no chargeback as they haven't failed to deliver.

    You'll be subject to their cancellation policy.
  • You might as well go.  It might be good, if it isn't you can leave.  Otherwise it's money wasted.
  • nyermen
    nyermen Posts: 1,080
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    And take evidence that you can.  If you only get 10 mins of 40 minute session, etc etc, then depending on amount its cost you (must be quantifiable losses, eg. if you paid £100 for a 40 minute massage and got 10 mins, you might need to claim for 3/4), maybe legal action would be worth it.
    Peter

    Debt free - finally finished paying off £20k + Interest.
  • How did you select the venue if not by reviews?

    Presumably this is booked for a specific date given you mention having booked childcare rather than it being a voucher for an unspecified date? Assuming it is then the CCR which normally would give you a cooling off period for online purchases unfortunately explicitly excludes travel/leisure that booked for a specific date.

    Realistically your options are:

    1) Go along anyway, you may find its great and the reviews are written by a disgruntled ex-employee or such (though with expectations of things being bad you are more likely to find things to criticise) 

    2) Cancel it and argue with them about unfair contract terms when they say you can have no refund at all... if they remarket it and sell the slot in theory they should refund you less the marketing costs and reasonable admin

    3) Chalk it up to experience and book somewhere else for the same date so at least the childcare element isnt wasted

    If you do go and its terrible then collect what evidence you can and deal with the complaint after (though again this can become a self fulfilling prophecy) 
  • How did you select the venue if not by reviews?

    Presumably this is booked for a specific date given you mention having booked childcare rather than it being a voucher for an unspecified date? Assuming it is then the CCR which normally would give you a cooling off period for online purchases unfortunately explicitly excludes travel/leisure that booked for a specific date.

    Realistically your options are:

    1) Go along anyway, you may find its great and the reviews are written by a disgruntled ex-employee or such (though with expectations of things being bad you are more likely to find things to criticise) 

    2) Cancel it and argue with them about unfair contract terms when they say you can have no refund at all... if they remarket it and sell the slot in theory they should refund you less the marketing costs and reasonable admin

    3) Chalk it up to experience and book somewhere else for the same date so at least the childcare element isnt wasted

    If you do go and its terrible then collect what evidence you can and deal with the complaint after (though again this can become a self fulfilling prophecy) 
    Thanks everyone for the polite feedback! 

    This was essentially a comparison site/search and book for spa breaks but instead of displaying reviews they advertise the packages available which you book by date. I booked this one because the package had a good balance of treatments/use of facilities/cost and allegedly had Sunday availability but my booking hasn't been confirmed by the venue. The venue is a chain and I used them about 10 or so years ago and it was what I'd call cheap and cheerful but it was in a different city. It had all the features but without the ultimate luxury and was affordable. 

    I suppose we could go and have a laugh about it later. But my secondary fear is that I booked the experience thinking we would be able to go in the afternoon and choose an appropriate time slot for the included treatments, but I have this awful feeling they will come back and say the treatments can only be done in the am. In which case they may not offer an alternative. 

    I read other reviews saying it's difficult to collect evidence with no phones being allowed so I don't know where I'd stand here. Breaking the rules to take photos is unlikely to work in my favour i think. Also wondering how I could prove the length of the treatments wasn't right?

    I've now heard they charge extra for robes and slippers 😅 I feel like I'm taking my husband to the greasy spoons of spa's. The shame!
  • Agree with DarkDullGrey above - if you do cancel they will be allowed to keep some money anyway, and depending how close to the date it is will likely keep more money as there is little chance of having your spot filled. For example, if you cancel an hour before they still have to pay their staff so their pay will come out of your refund. It’s different if you cancel weeks in advance, or even find someone to fill your spot (in that case a small admin fee may be applicable). 

    It also comes down to how much it is - a spa day can range from less than £100 to over £1000 depending on what you do, where you go and how long for. Expecting a 5* castle experience for £75 per person is likely not going to live up to your expectations. If you do go, it may surprise you, or it may make a funny story. 

    Also worth noting that most people don’t write reviews for most things. Most people will have horror stories with one of DPD, Evri, Royal Mail, FedEx, or ParcelForce and say how bad they are. Very few people will have a very positive review of them. My point being that if you looked at the negative comments alone from all of the mailing companies, you’ll come to the conclusion that the parcel will get lost, stolen, booted over the fence, ran over by a forklift truck, soaked in the rain, given to a neighbour 4 streets away. Whilst the vast majority of parcels are delivered fine, but we don’t leave feedback until something deviates from the norm. 
  • the_lunatic_is_in_my_head
    the_lunatic_is_in_my_head Posts: 7,277
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    edited 22 September 2023 at 9:56AM
    they still have to pay their staff 
    I'm not sure they can deduct the staff pay as a cost for the same reason "they still have to pay their staff" i.e the staff are there regardless of whether there is a spare slot or not. 

    For something like this I would assume the actual costs in providing the experience are what would be consumed, such as lotions and potions, the cost of staff, running the building, putting the heat on (or not perhaps in this case) are all costs they suffer regardless.

    My understanding of it is they should

    Seek to find a new customer
    If they can refund the deposit/advanced payment.
    Any costs can be retained, perhaps advertising, but again I don't think they can bill 10 minutes of a receptionist's time as that person would be paid whether they are filling forms, talking on the phone or twiddling their thumbs. 

    If they can't find a new customer they should look at their costs and the value of their loss of profit and retain the larger from the deposit/advanced payment. 

    I would imagine retaining loss of profit is greater with this type of experience but with loss of profit that is net profit which should be calculated with all the costs, the staff, the running of the building, the lotions they would have used, the lot. 

    If OP cancels they are entitled to something, the question are what and whether it's worth the trouble to attempt to find out which would really depend on the value. £100 and I'd either go or write it off. A few hundred for 2 people I'd be inclined to spend a time seeking what I'd be entitled to if I decided not to go.


    Also worth noting that most people don’t write reviews for most things. Most people will have horror stories with one of DPD, Evri, Royal Mail, FedEx, or ParcelForce and say how bad they are. Very few people will have a very positive review of them. My point being that if you looked at the negative comments alone from all of the mailing companies, you’ll come to the conclusion that the parcel will get lost, stolen, booted over the fence, ran over by a forklift truck, soaked in the rain, given to a neighbour 4 streets away. Whilst the vast majority of parcels are delivered fine, but we don’t leave feedback until something deviates from the norm. 

    This is a good point OP and to add to it some people complain about things that aren't just and then write an over the top poor review.

    Personally I'd go with low expectations and the view it will be what it will be and if that turns out to be really bad at least it'll give you a nudge to check the reviews next time :) 
  • Thanks for the update, maybe you could leave a positive review for the third party firm?  But it also illustrates the point that bad reviews aren't necessarily true.  I would not book a company with lots of bad reviews (if I saw them lol, like many I usually do check but the occasional time I have made a mistake by not checking first).  I now don't buy anything advertised through social media after one very bad, stressful experience.  Did get my money back thank goodness but it caused a lot of stress. 

    But most of us have done it lol.  Its how you learn when a new (to you) thing comes along.  I now don't use Airbnb after two 'luxurious' apartments were filthy and 20 years older than their pictures.  Had lots of positive reviews from supposed users too.
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