Seaton father slams holiday firm

PUBLISHED: 12:43 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 01:13 16 June 2010

A SEATON father has hit out at Virgin Holidays after they charged him an extra £1,600 for his trip to Florida, in the wake of the volcanic ash chaos.

A SEATON father has hit out at Virgin Holidays after they charged him an extra £1,600 for his trip to Florida, in the wake of the volcanic ash chaos.

Rob Gibbons, joint owner of Tower Services, strongly criticised Richard Branson for taking advantage of customers following the recent plane ban.

Virgin Holidays has said most of the extra cost was due to the change of date and the company would talk to Mr Gibbons again.

He said he felt emotionally blackmailed by the company to pay the difference than wait indefinitely for a refund as he did not want to let his two children down.

"It was a case of either break my boys' hearts or take the holiday and pay the extra money," he said.

"My young boy was absolutely distraught and in tears when he heard we weren't going. He had been really excited about it for weeks and it had been counting down the sleeps.

"The worse thing you can do as a parent is to promise something and not deliver."

Rob and his family were due to travel out on April 18, but flights were cancelled because of the volcanic ash cloud.

Virgin Holidays originally asked for an extra £2,500, but dropped the fee following negotiations.

Mr Gibbons added: "I think they have taken advantage of the situation. It was not we couldn't fly out, but it's like they are saying because they didn't fly for a week, the great British public is going to pay."

Mr Gibbons had rung the hotel in Florida, and learned they had not increased their prices, and nor had charges for the trip been upped in Virgin Holidays brochures.

A holiday representative told him he would be entitled to a full refund should he wish not to have a holiday - but could not tell him when he would get the money back.

He said he was given one hour to make a decision.

A spokesman for Virgin Holidays said Mr Gibbons was offered the chance to rebook subject to availability and a possible re-cost. If no alternative dates were available, they said customers were offered a full refund.

She said: "The bulk of the extra cost incurred by Mr Gibbons on the new holiday dates he requested was from an upgraded room, as the original room type he booked wasn't available for those new dates.

"An extra transfer service was also added on to the re-made booking at the customer's request."

She added that the travel cost slightly more and that they planned to talk to Mr Gibbons further.

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