Holiday overbooking; UK family group receive no assistance to get original holiday in San Antonio from UK tour company

I write with reference to a grievance with [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR] with regard to a letter from them dated 3rd June ‘09, which we received 6th June. 
The letter informs us of a change of accommodation due to an error on the reservation system, this was described as ‘being oversold’.  Whilst on the telephone to the operations team we were informed that they [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR] had overbooked and there were no rooms available at all in the hotel. Subsequent visits the [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR] website, clearly advertised rooms and the Hotel website; advertising both family rooms and twin rooms available.  The holiday booking was made well in advance, in September 2008, as we wanted to ensure that all parties were together. Indeed on one particular day in question, 25th September, both ourselves [NAME] and the third family party [NAME] were on a four-way telephone conversation with the booking team, informing them that we were booking a group family holiday. Unbeknown to all families, we should have been interlinked on the system. At no point in the proceeding did the operatives ask, or recommend this procedure, which clearly shows professional negligence.  The holiday is in fact a gathering of four families for a large group holiday, at a total cost of just under £12’000. There is in total 14 people involved in this holiday – 7 Adults and 7 children, two of which are disabled. It is to celebrate a gathering of not only family, but it has other important factors associated with.  Our Son, who is one of the disabled children will have to undergo his third open-heart operation next year, therefore this holiday would be his last family holiday for some considerable time. The other disabled child in question is severely autistic. [NAME], who is our fourth family on the holiday, is the disabled child’s mother and sister to [NAME], who is joint carer of the disabled child. Autistic children find it extremely hard and stressful to associate with people they do not know. It has taken 3 months for the autistic child to comprehend and accept a large holiday. [NAME] booked in January.  Referring back to 6th June; during our telephone conversation, the operative asked for all party names to check the manifest. Unfortunately for [NAME] and family, they too were not on the list, as they had booked and paid for the same room as ourselves – Double three with 1 extra (child).  Not only is it totally unacceptable to be offered no alternative accommodation within the hotel but also a data protection issue, as we were asked by the operative to inform [NAME] ourselves. As yet to date, [NAME] still have not received a letter from the Operations team, giving them the same information as ourselves.  It has transpired that the specific room that we booked, three-bed room plus 1 extra (child only), is no longer used in hotels as a law was passed over two years ago, stating that a child over the age of twelve cannot be top and tailed in the same bed with a younger child. On Tuesday morning 8th June [NAME], who is a VIP member at the above named Hotel, phoned the Hotel directly and enquired about our reservations – for all four families. It was then confirmed verbally, and then by email, that there are indeed two rooms reserved for [NAME], and [NAME]. The hotel was even willing to give us their reference numbers for the rooms. The rooms that have been reserved are double rooms with a double bed added. [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR] failed to contact us during this process to inform about the original room advertised, and paid for, as well as not giving alternative rooms to choose from.  On Tuesday afternoon [NAME] phoned [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR] and conveyed this information. The response from them was, there are no available rooms at the hotel, it was fully booked and the hotel does not give out such information and they insinuated that we were not telling the truth.  May we however, congratulate the team of [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR staff at [NAME OF TOWN], who have been extremely helpful and made every endeavour to assist all four families concerned.  Today, [NAME] have had verbal confirmation from the Reservations team, via the [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR] staff at [NAME OF TOWN], that our rooms are confirmed.  With this news [NAME] has phoned [NAME OF TOUR OPERATOR] and informed them of this. They have now said that we have not got a room and will not confirm any recent developments and they will be sending us to a down-graded 2 star accommodation in San Antonio.  The manner in which all four families has been treated in totally unprofessional, as well as causing considerable stress and anxiety to everybody concerned, but more so to the children.

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