Holiday Problems - does not match description

If you arrived at your holiday destination and it was not as advertised in the brochure then you may be able to claim compensation

If when you arrived at your accommodation some of the advertised facilitates were not there or not available for part of your stay, there may have been a breach of contract. You may be able to claim compensation for loss of enjoyment of your holiday and any losses you have incurred.


Holiday does not match description:

Your rights 


You are entitled to rely on the description of your holiday in the brochure. 

  • This means that facilities, such as swimming pools, and services, such as inclusive meals and drinks should be available for your holiday. 
  • The area of law is known as “contract law” and if your holiday did not match the description then you may be able to claim if you can show the holiday company did not keep their side of the deal. This is called a “breach of contract”.

You are also given extra rights under the Package Tour Regulations if your holiday was a package holiday (usually where transport and accommodation is booked together). 

  • If your holiday was not a package holiday, because perhaps you booked the flights and the accommodation separately you may still be able to claim compensation for breach of contract. 
  • The Regulations say that travel organisers cannot provide misleading information.

If a holiday doesn’t match its description, it may also be a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 [CPRs].

Did you pay by Credit Card?


What do you have to prove to bring a claim?


You will need to prove that the description in the brochure was misleading. 
You should be able to claim if you can show  the information you were given was factually incorrect. Perhaps the brochure saying there is a pool when there isn’t, or that all meals are included when it turns out you had to pay. 

However some issues are not so clear cut. For example if the brochure says that the beach is 2 minutes away - this may be technically correct but if you have kids and need to take a buggy with you may find you can’t use the direct route and have  to take a longer route that takes 20 minutes. 

This could still be misleading if the holiday is promoted as family friendly or suitable for young children. It will depend on what is a reasonable understanding.


What evidence should you collect together?


All of the following suggestions may help. It will be easier if you are reading this whilst still on holiday:

  • Take photographs or video of the problem.
  • Take contact details of any witnesses of what happened to you and caused your holiday to be spoilt.
  • Take details of any other people on holiday who have also suffered (your claim will be even stronger if there are other people who are also unhappy because they suffered from the same issue or problem).
  • If you have suffered an injury or the hotel food or swimming pool has made you unwell - make sure you receive the medical treatment you need. Keep a note of the doctor and where the treatment was provided (so if they are needed later, the medical records can be obtained as independent proof of what you have been through).
  • Keep a list (and receipts) of all the extra expenses you have to pay for as a result of the problem or injury (such as taxi fares and medication).
  • Keep a record or diary of the impact on the holiday of the problem on you and your family. This can cover the inconvenience caused, activities you can’t enjoy (and with injuries your pain and suffering) and the impact on the holiday for you and your family.
  • You should complain to the representative whilst you are on holiday. You should give the company the chance to remedy the problem as soon as possible or your claim for compensation might be affected. Keep a note of when and to whom you reported it.  If you have a holiday rep they should offer you a written report form.​


What can you claim?


1: You can claim compensation if there has been a breach of contract. The amount will depend on how serious the failing of the holiday company. 

  • If a holiday is completely ruined it might be reasonable for you to get a full refund.
  • If the problem just reduced your enjoyment of a small part of the holiday then your reasonable compensation will be less.

2: You can also claim back your additional losses and expenses. 

  • A refund of your extra losses and expenses suffered as a direct result of the breach or failings of the holiday company.
  • The amount you can claim must be reasonable and will usually need to be supported by receipts or other evidence.
  • For example if your booking meant you paid for Bed and Breakfast, and there was no breakfast available, you may be able to claim the cost of breakfasts for your holiday.



What is the deadline for starting a claim at court?


This is a complicated area of law where you will need specific advice. But very generally you have 6 years to start a claim in the courts of England and Wales.

However to stand a chance of proving your claim you will need to make your complaint as soon as possible – usually first raising it will your holiday rep whilst you are still away.

In some instances a judge would expect you to return home, if the holiday has not been as you were expecting.


Example claims


  • Description of facilities inaccurate, for example, no pool, laundry, tennis courts, children’s playground 
  • Description of services inaccurate, for example, meals not included, tuition advertised and not available


Disclaimer reminder


Please note: To give you general information about your dispute, the information given here is a simplification of a complex area of law and cannot be relied upon. As part of our commitment to serving you better, we highly recommend utilising the resources available at the Money Advice Service website. Their comprehensive guides and information cover various aspects of financial and legal matters, including small claims advice and may be able to give you the support you need.


Format - complaint letter (Holiday does not match description)



Information to include

Sample letter – does not match description


Start of official letter to holiday company.


[If you know the person’s name]: Dear Mr Smith, 

[If you do not know their name]: Dear Sirs,



Any relevant background information:

What was agreed between you?

What happened (in date order)? 

Be specific and refer to any written or verbal agreements.  ​


I have recently returned with my family from a holiday with your company at the Cala Gran Holiday Park in Menorca.

I booked the holiday on the 25th February 2013. We booked for 7 nights, all inclusive at a cost of £1530.

Your booking reference: CG-Men 2013/56

This holiday was advertised in the second edition of your Spring/Summer 2014 brochure. In the information for this hotel it stated that there was a heated pool at this property and because of this I booked my holiday with you. I have kept a copy of this.

The holiday started on 24 March 2013.

When we arrived we found the pool was not heated. 

On the second day of our holiday (25 March 2013) we spoke to Jessica Smith (your representative) and she confirmed the hotel did not have a heated pool. She did not offer a solution or any compensation to us. 



Details of any payments requested and any payments made.


I paid the £1530 using my credit card on 25 February 2013 using your website. 

I attach your emailed receipt which also confirms details of my booking.



Identify clearly why you are unhappy.

Give any relevant dates

Be clear about why you think the other person is responsible


I am very unhappy because the pool was not heated.

We booked the holiday because your brochure stated that there was a heated pool at the hotel complex. 

We have two small children and we could not have put them in an unheated pool at this time of year. 

The information in your brochure was inaccurate and I was misled into booking the holiday with you. 


Problems caused

Give details of any problems you have suffered as a result.

If relevant refer to photos.

Problems caused

Due to the lack of heated pool, we had to travel every day to the water park which was on the other side of town to access a heated pool. The water park was a taxi ride away and this added considerable expense to our holiday.

This did ruin our holiday.

We could not return to our hotel with the children during the day which meant their nap times were interrupted. 


Losses and expenses 

If the problems have caused you losses or expenses - give details.

Also provide proof of the damage and cost of repairs or replacement wherever possible.

Losses and expenses

The cost of entry into the water park was €35.00 per day for a family ticket. We went for 6 days making a total of €210

As we were not at the hotel, we had to buy drinks and food at the waterpark.  If we had been able to stay at the hotel these would have been free as part of our inclusive deal with you. The total extra cost was €176.00

We also had to pay for transport, to and from the waterpark. The cost of taxis was €63.

I attach a photocopy of the receipts we kept




Be as clear as possible about the remedy you would like. 

  • Say what action you would like them to take (or stop). 
  • Where you are asking for a payment - put a price on the you seek.



I require you to pay compensation for the total loss of enjoyment of our holiday. The inconvenience and disruption to our children’s sleeping ruined the holiday for us. Therefore I require refund of my holiday costs of £1530

I also require refund of our extra expenses which total €449.00. The current euro/pound exchange rate is 0.83, so I would accept £372.67.

The total claimed by me is £1,902.67



Give your opponent 14 days to reply to the letter – to  either:

  • agree with your complaint and give you the remedy that you seek 


  • arrange to inspect the problem


  • set out their detailed response.


Please do not ignore this letter. I would like us to try to resolve our dispute without court proceedings and legal costs.

Please reply in the next 14 days, so that this dispute can be resolved as set out in this letter. 

If you do not agree that you are liable and/or do not agree with the remedy sought, then please reply within 14 days with a detailed explanation of why not.




Point out that ignoring your letter will mean you may start legal proceedings for the court to deal with the dispute and that you may refer the judge to your letter.


I am sure it will not prove necessary but if I do not hear from you within 14 days then I reserve the right to start court proceedings without further reference to you. I will ask the court for an order that you pay me £1,902.67.

If I do have to issue court proceedings, I will refer the court to this letter and I will also ask the court to order you to pay me interest, court fees and legal costs.

I look forward to hearing from you within the next 14 days.



[If you started with their name]:
Yours sincerely, 

Ian Rate

[If you started using Dear Sirs]:
Yours faithfully, 

Ian Rate

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