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Raw Deal: Couple wins refund after peaceful holiday planned at rural idyll hits troubled waters

© Shutterstock / cve ivWarning message at holiday let indicated the water was not safe to drink.
Warning message at holiday let indicated the water was not safe to drink.

Janis Linton and her husband Bill were looking forward to a peaceful break in the Highlands but their seven-day trip turned out to be anything but.

In October last year, the couple, from Kirriemuir, Angus, paid £629 to booking site for a week-long stay at a property near Helmsdale in Sutherland.

“The cottage was situated up a single-track road nine miles from the village and it seemed like the perfect place for a quiet getaway,” Linton said.

“We called the contact number provided a few days before leaving and were assured that a light would be left on as we expected to arrive in the evening. However, when we got there, there was no light on and the cottage was dark and cold which wasn’t the best of starts.”

As the property was advertised as having a microwave, the couple had brought a ready meal with them for dinner. But they couldn’t use the appliance as it was broken.

Things deteriorated further when during their first night, they were woken by the sound of an alarm going off.

“On getting up to investigate we found a water system in a cupboard making a noise and it was showing a warning message indicating that the water was not safe for consumption,” Linton said.

“We couldn’t switch it off and it kept us awake all night.”

In the morning the couple called the booking company for assistance and they waited in until a plumber arrived.

“The plumber switched off the alarm but couldn’t fix the system so we decided to drink bottled water from then on, although we were told the tap water was safe to drink.

“My husband was shown how to reset the system so that the alarm didn’t go off again. Bill is on the extremely vulnerable list so we didn’t want to take any chances with the water which was brown and had a strange smell.”

A few days later the plumber returned with a replacement part for the water system but it still didn’t work, Linton explained.

“The microwave was replaced earlier the same morning but by then it was too late to be of any use to us but we still had to get up early for the delivery and also to give access to the plumber.

“All in all, the holiday was a bit of a nightmare.”

Linton said when she got home she contacted the booking firm but was offered just £75 in compensation.

“I also contacted the local environmental health department with regard to the water system as the owner is supposed to make sure that the system is maintained in working order,” she said.

“They are investigating my complaint.”

Unhappy with the experience, Linton wrote to Raw Deal. After we contacted the booking company, it wasn’t long before the couple got their full £629 back.

James Starkey, chief operating officer at, said: “It is always a disappointment for both and our property owners on the rare occasion a holiday doesn’t meet the expectations of our guests and we are sorry that this was the case for Mrs Linton.

“Our team have looked into the particular case and worked with the property owner to resolve this. We can confirm that a full refund has been arranged for Mrs Linton.”

He added: “Additionally, all of the issues raised have either been resolved or are in the process of being resolved by the property owner.

“We are sorry once again that the holiday wasn’t as Mrs Linton had hoped for, and hope that she will consider another holiday with us in the future.”