Most people have a great time on holiday and their only complaint is that they wish it could have lasted longer. But sometimes things do go wrong and if you think your health or safety could be affected you need to act straight away.

Package holidays

If you book a package holiday with a tour operator in the UK, it must provide you with the standard of accommodation, transport and other services it promised when you booked your holiday. If it doesn’t or you have concerns about any health and safety issues while you’re away you should tell your tour operator immediately.

For example, if you’re on holiday and discover the railings on your balcony are loose, your accommodation is dirty or you see staff inappropriately handling food, tell your holiday rep or tour operator immediately. Make sure you back up any claims with evidence such as photographs or witnesses.

In most cases your rep or customer service contact will probably be able to sort out the problem straightaway. They are there to help you so keep the conversation friendly, remain calm and let them sort out the problem. But if they can’t or you’re not happy with the way your complaint is handled you can take up the matter when you get home (see below for what to do).

Self-organised trips

If you have organised your own trip you will need to take up any health and safety issues with your accommodation or transport provider yourself. This could be the manager of a hotel or hostel you’re staying in, the owner or agent of a villa you’ve hired or the organisers of any excursion you’re on where accommodation and transport is provided. They might not realise there’s a problem until you tell them so it’s always good to voice your concerns straight away to give them time to put things right.

Keep the conversation friendly and remain calm as this offers the best chance of resolving the situation. You also don’t want to let the problem spoil your holiday or have your relationship with them soured if at all possible.

If you don’t get the outcome you want it’s worth assessing how serious you think the problem really is. It may just be mildly irritating in which case you may prefer to ignore it so that it doesn’t ruin your holiday. On the other hand if it is a serious problem, for example if you fall down some steps because they are in poor repair and there’s no safety rail, then make sure you get as much evidence as possible (such as written and photographic evidence and contact details of any witnesses) to support any later action you might want to take.

What to do when you get home

If you booked your holiday through a tour operator and want to make a complaint contact them in writing as soon as possible after you return home. Hopefully you will be able to resolve the problem but if not you may need to take further action. Citizens Advice has a letter you can use to make a complaint.

If your travel agent or tour operator is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents you can contact ABTA for advice on how to resolve your problem. All its members must follow its Code of Conduct and it has an independent complaints resolution service which you can use.

If your travel agent or tour operator is not a member of ABTA or you have booked independently, you should contact your accommodation or transport provider direct in writing to see if you can resolve the situation. If you have no luck then you may choose to take legal action either through the small claims court (if you booked through a UK firm) or you could get help from a solicitor but in both cases the process can be expensive and lengthy.

The consumer watchdog Which? has a good guide on how to use the small claims court which can help.

If you suffer from food poisoning while you’re away and want to make a complaint our guide on food and water safety has details of what you should do.

If you need to report a crime see our guide for details on how to do this.

Published on 07/06/18

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