Spanish holiday nightmare

LAST UPDATED: 8 Oct, 2011 @ 13:01
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Spanish holiday nightmare

EXCLUSIVE By James Bryce

A BRITISH family are fighting for compensation after their summer holiday at a rental home in Andalucia was cancelled at the last minute.

The Pattinsons, from Gretna, in Scotland, were due to fly out for a two-week holiday near Alhaurin in July after paying over 2,000 euros for a villa through the website HomeAway.

But just a day before their flight, the villa owners informed them by email that the booking had been cancelled.

The email cited ‘illness’ and a separate issue with HomeAway as the reason for the cancellation.

“And it also came with the clear promise of a full refund,” mother-of-three Carol Pattinson, 55, told the Olive Press.

But two months later and the family – who had to find another villa at the last minute – are still waiting for compensation.

Despite receiving a one-off £700 (750 euros) payment from HomeAway’s parent company Owners Direct, they are still waiting for a proper explanation.

The story comes just a fortnight after the Olive Press revealed that police arrested a couple in Mojacar in an alleged holiday rental scam worth more than 150,000 euros.

The pair John Treagust and wife Amanda advertised rental properties complete with photos and descriptions on their website costablancalive.com.

“It has all been very stressful,” continued Pattinson. “The owners have not come back to us at all, and even if they were ill, surely they could still have refunded all the money by now.”

The family had booked their holiday, via the popular website, which advertises widely in the UK media.

After a comprehensive search they settled on the five-bedroom villa owned by an Andy Wilford and Nicky Smith, in the Las Lomas area of Alhaurin el Grande.

A holiday rental agreement was made and £1,900 paid into the couple’s Unicaja account in Coin, in June.

They stayed in touch with the couple and arranged to meet them near Malaga airport upon their arrival in order to find the villa.

But alarm bells began to ring when they were unable to find the property on the site just days before the holiday.

When contacted the couple claimed it was because the villa was ‘fully booked’, but then out of the blue Pattinson received an email from HomeAway warning against continuing with the transaction.

“Of course that came too late,” said Pattinson, whose family ended up booking another villa in Fuengirola.

“I will never book a holiday through an internet site again,” said Pattinson. “We don’t trust anyone now.”

When the Olive Press tried to contact the couple we were unable to get through. An email remained unanswered.

A spokesman for the website said: “As soon as we became suspicious we removed the listing from our site and warned all travellers who had enquired about it.”

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