ANDREW Tait and his wife Angela were excited at booking a dream cruise for their 40th wedding anniversary.
The couple, from Lockerbie in Dumfriesshire, chose a £7000 package that included flights to New York from Glasgow plus accommodation – then returning to Southampton on the luxury ocean liner Queen Mary 2.
Their ruby anniversary falls in May but they opted to travel in November when it is far less expensive.
“We simply could not have afforded a holiday like that at peak times such as May,” said Andrew, 63, a driving instructor.
“But we were happy to go at the end of the year and delighted to be travelling on the QM2.”
In February, Andrew booked the trip over the phone with Imagine Cruising, based at Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire.
“The agent on the phone explained that the price in the advert of £2999 per person was for a P2 level of stateroom on the QM2 but they had sold out,” said Andrew.
“He then offered us a P1 stateroom which was of higher quality but a good bit more expensive.
“My wife and I accepted this and the agent arranged flights for us from Glasgow to New York via Iceland.
“The agent told us that by agreeing to book it would cost £6998 and that a deposit of £2300 would be required.
“A statement he then read out advised us to read the terms and conditions which were found on their website. I accepted this, and paid the deposit.”
However, when the couple received the full itinerary the next day they were not happy.
“I looked on the websites for Cunard and also Imagine Cruising, to find that there was no mention of the P1 stateroom that we had paid an extra £999 for being ‘better’ than the P2 rooms,” said Andrew. “They were exactly identical in size and equipment.
“Imagine Cruising could not furnish a reason for the extra £999 for the stateroom at first, but then explained that it was Cunard’s price for the allotted position on the deck.”
The couple decided to cancel and asked for their deposit of £2300 to be refunded.
Imagine Cruising at first declined their request and instead offered the Taits £300 towards their spending money on board the ship.
Andrew argued that, as he did not have a chance to read the terms and conditions of the holiday at the time of booking because he had done so over the phone, he believed he had the right to cancel.
In turn, a company representative pointed out that during the call an agent had referred Andrew to the terms and conditions on its website and had advised him to read them.
“That is all very well but it was impossible to read stuff on a website while I was on the phone,” said Andrew.
The couple turned to Raw Deal and we asked Imagine Cruising to investigate.
And it was good news for the Taits, as within a few days the issue had been ironed out.
Imagine offered the couple their original trip for the same price – plus a substantial free cabin upgrade on the QM2 for the duration of the six-day cruise, worth about £1500.
“We upgraded Mr Tait to a Queens Grill cabin,” said a spokeswoman for Imagine Cruising.
The Taits are delighted to take up the offer and they now can’t wait to celebrate their 40th anniversary in style.
“I would like to thank Raw Deal for the big nudge that you gave to the travel agency to get this issue resolved,” Andrew added.
“However, I still think that the company should address the problem where they can advise customers over the phone to read T&C’s, but do not actually provide them.”