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Coronavirus And The Broads

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Government is due to suspend rules on refunds for cancelled holidays. The Package Travel Regulations 2018 were never designed for a total shutdown of tourism and travel. The EU has updated its guidance encouraging customers to accepts vouchers or credit notes as long as the customer is allowed their money back eventually, but the guarantee must be backed by insolvency protection turning the vouchers into IOUs that are backed by the state.

The UK government is looking to do something very similar here to protect the travel companies. I don't know exactly where they are in that process, but it is possible that Hoseasons are acting on that new advice, or in anticipation of that new advice.

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16 minutes ago, psychicsurveyor said:

Make all payments on a credit card to gain the extra protection.

That's actually a very good idea. Trouble is I don't have a credit card! :default_crying1animated:

I wonder how sound Hoseasons are? Be interesting to see what happens. 

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The suspension of refunds if and when it goes live is all about protecting companies such as Hoseasons to ensure they still have cash to get back on with business once the virus goes away. I suspect it will also apply to bookings placed directly with hire yards.

It is likely that anyone who gets issued a voucher will be able to use the voucher for a holiday within two years of the voucher being issued. If it is not used by the end of two years then a full cash refund will be issued. This would seem to have the effect of an interest free two year loan to travel companies if you don't rebook with them, in the hope that it keeps them trading after the virus goes away.

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20 hours ago, EastCoastIPA said:

This would seem to have the effect of an interest free two year loan to travel companies if you don't rebook with them, in the hope that it keeps them trading after the virus goes away.

This is most radical, but then a radical solution is what must be found. After all, the world has never before had to deal with something like this so there can't be an existing law that covers it!

I think if I had paid the balance on a holiday that I now can't take, then I would be happy to accept the voucher as described. After all, if I had taken the holiday, then I have spent the money. I'm not going to "get it back" anyway! This way I still have a holiday to look forward to and the boatyard has a chance to still be there in business, when the time comes.

Yes. Good idea!

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2 hours ago, Vaughan said:

I think if I had paid the balance on a holiday that I now can't take, then I would be happy to accept the voucher as described. After all, if I had taken the holiday, then I have spent the money. I'm not going to "get it back" anyway! This way I still have a holiday to look forward to and the boatyard has a chance to still be there in business, when the time comes

I agree if you are in a position to do so. We've got a holiday booked in April and my first choice is to change the date, if available, if not, then a voucher would be OK. As you say we've already spent the money. However, there are people at the moment either not covered by the governments generous schemes, or who won't get any cash for a few months and they may need cash now to feed themselves, pay the utility bills etc. So I think the schemes should be optional. Those of us who can support the businesses to get through this do, but not at the expense of individuals or families.

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Whatever the rights and wrongs of not allowing cancellations, I would have thought this would be very difficult to enforce when Hoseasons booking conditions, (which would have been in force at the time of booking) state:

B3 Cancellations or changes made by us It is unlikely that we will have to make changes to your booking arrangements but, as we make the arrangements for your booking in advance of the start date, we may occasionally have to make changes both before and after bookings have been confirmed. Or, we may have to cancel confirmed bookings. While we always try to avoid changes and cancellations, we can make them at any time. Occasionally we have to make a ‘significant change’ such as a change of boat to that of a lower standard, changing the departure time by more than 12 hours or a change of area/resort. If we need to do this, we will let you know as soon as is reasonably possible before you leave. We treat all other changes as minor. As a result, we will decide whether to let you know about them. If we have to make a significant change or cancel your booking, and as long as there is time to do so before the departure date, we will offer you four options; a) you can accept the changed booking arrangements we offer you; or b) you can transfer to another booking if we are able to offer alternative arrangements (with comparable or higher facilities (at no extra cost to you); or c) if available, you can accept an offer of an alternative holiday of a lower standard, with a refund of the price difference between the original holiday and the alternative holiday; or d) you can cancel your booking, in which case we will refund you all amounts you have paid.

There would have to be some serious legislation that allows for new booking conditions to be back-dated. I do think it is the responsible thing to take a (protected) credit note, but in the end it has to be accepted that not everyone will be in a position to use one. Regarding how safe Hoseasons are, well they are part of the Awaze group, which was purchased a year ago by the Platinum Equity group. Their portfolio of companies is listed here: https://www.platinumequity.com/portfolio . Looking at it, I wouldn't think Hoseasons would be under any direct threat as a result of the virus.

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Vaughan, the world has dealt with this before and in a greater scale, the spanish flu of 1918 was much worse, killing up to 5% of the world population (50-100 million estimated deaths), but at that time the world wide communication wasnt there and governments were not set up to react as swiftly then either. as we had just finished the great war, expectations from the general populace were probably less too.

If a lost holiday is the worst impact for an individual or family, from the virus then i think they should be considering themselves fortunate, Yes, i have a holiday booked in about 6 weeks (the week of the cancelled may meet) do i expect to be able to go on that holiday, not really, Marthams have put out on facebook that they will be contacting customers before their holiday, so i await hearing from them, and will reschedule if possible, but i am prepared for the possibility that i will lose out, at very least i will be able to cancel the leave days at work and take it later.

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 the world has dealt with this before and in a greater scale,

Agreed but there is a huge difference this time round - It involves me an mine :default_hiding:   :default_coat:

Griff

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I feel it is like a bad dream and I wish someone would wake me up soon.     We have all watched films about something similar but never ever thought it would happen.

I see one of Herby Woods Picnic boats has parted with one of it life belts.

 

life belt.PNG

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More of a nightmare than a  dream, I've never enjoyed films etc with this sort of theme always finding them sinister because it is  all too possible  and  of course as we now see it is! It's like living in some sort of sci-fi scenario. I think the fact that  it's so open ended makes it all the harder to cope with.

 

Carole

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Oh no!! I can't believe it.

Not the "Leaping Lifebelt" again!

When will they learn, that they they are being watched?

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1 hour ago, Hylander said:

I feel it is like a bad dream and I wish someone would wake me up soon.     We have all watched films about something similar but never ever thought it would happen.

I see one of Herby Woods Picnic boats has parted with one of it life belts.

 

life belt.PNG

Social distancing between boats, at least at the stern! No allowance for swinging bows perhaps? 

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David H    Would you assume that even if you booked direct with Richardsons they (as they have in the case of the Beast from the East) refund all our monies and offer a further holiday in the future.   We were due to go on our boating holiday in early May.      Thus all monies have been paid in full.

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1 hour ago, Hylander said:

Would you assume that even if you booked direct with Richardsons they (as they have in the case of the Beast from the East) refund all our monies and offer a further holiday in the future.   We were due to go on our boating holiday in early May.      Thus all monies have been paid in full.

All the operators are trying to enforce a line that they will hold on to the money, (keep it in credit), then allow a change to another date when things improve. This is good for the company's survival, and fits most customers needs. The point I was trying to make further up, was that the contract you have with Richardsons will very likely state that if they cannot provide the holiday, you would be entitled to a full refund. I can't see any legislation coming forward that would allow booking conditions to be changed, after the contract was made. So it may be that someone might have to resort to legal action, if it wasn't resolved in one way or another. I would imagine any new bookings made in the current climate might have different booking conditions. Just my view, .....I'm no law expert. 

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22 hours ago, grendel said:

If a lost holiday is the worst impact for an individual or family, from the virus then i think they should be considering themselves fortunate,

I think what you say is very important.  We should remember that a holiday is a luxury but certainly not a necessity.

You have, however, decided you can afford it, budgeted for it and paid for it.  Wanting the money back now, because you have other more important things to spend it on, may be very understandable but not realistic, in my view.  You have a business contract with the boatyard, to provide you with a holiday.  The voucher system will still provide you with that holiday.  Provided you give the business the flexibility now, so that they will still be in business when you are ready for your holiday.

If you had bought and paid for a washing machine, just before the crisis, you would't be expecting them to take it back, because you now need the money.  That may sound simplistic but I don't feel that there is very much difference.

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This from one of the travel writers atthe Telegraph a couple of days ago:

Unreasonable consumers could kill countless travel companies and put thousands out of work
I never thought I’d write these words, but I think the time has come for consumers to be flexible. To put our rights into a new context and start thinking about the implications of what is currently happening to the travel industry. I say this having spent much of my working life holding airlines, tour operators and other holiday companies to account, exposing shoddy, sometimes dishonest service, and campaigning for better consumer rights and protections.
But during that time I’ve never seen anything quite like the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. And I’m not talking about the obvious short-term disruption. Because we plan, book and pay for travel often months in advance, the effects of the virus on tourism will last for the whole of 2020 and probably much longer.
It is a seismic shock to tone of the world’s biggest industries, and an acute, existential threat to many of the companies that operate within it. Sure. Slowly and eventually, life will get back to normal. But we don’t want to delay that resumption by seeing whole chunks of the industry collapse.

Let’s look at the grim reality from the point of view of an airline, tour operator, hotel or cruise company, or one of the many, many businesses that form the backbone of that industry. They already work on tight margins and they depend for their profits (and therefore their survival) on a steady turn over of bookings. These bring funds in advance for some - airlines and tour operators, for example - and in arrears for the agents who depend on commissions, or hotels which are often paid only when guests have left.

But instead of taking bookings, checking in guests and organising travel arrangements, all these companies are now having to spend all their efforts handing money back. Not only does this fundamentally threaten their future, none of them - especially those which were built to trade online - have enough staff to cope with a sudden and extreme shift in the way they have to work. Those employees they do have are stressed, in fear of their jobs and livelihoods. What’s more, as the virus spreads, more and more of them are getting ill leaving companies even more short-staffed.
They are also having to deal with anxious, impatient customers desperate to get their money back. And I know, from the tone of some of those who have contacted me, that not all these customers are understanding nor even reasonable in their expectations. I suppose it is not surprising. We are all stressed and worried about the financial consequences of the virus. But I have been mostly impressed by the efforts of the travel industry to mitigate the problem. Most are doing their level best to help. Many are doing their best to be flexible.

Strictly speaking, customers are usually entitled to a cash refund in such circumstances. But many companies, in their struggle to survive, are trying to persuade people to accept a postponement - rebooking for a later date - or an offer of a credit for a future holiday. So, bearing the extremity of the situation in mind, I’ve changed the advice I give to those whose trips are cancelled and suggested that - if at all possible - they forbear from demanding a refund and accept an alternative offer. The more people who feel able to do this, the more travel companies will survive long enough to arrange our holidays in future. And you don't have to worry about losing your money - in the vast majority of cases it will be protected because your holiday was paid for with a credit card booking or a financial bonding arrangement such as the Atol.

This week the trade association ABTA made a plea for help and flexibility in the legal situation. It asked the Government to take two immediate steps to help the industry survive. First to allow companies to refund customers over a defined period, during which their payment is protected. And second, to establish an emergency fund to reimburse customers’ money where travel companies cannot recoup it from their suppliers. Only with these interventions, says Abta, “will we be able to continue to protect the customer interests, and avoid a short term run on travel companies which will trigger failures and delay refunds getting to customers.”
It’s a cry for help. If we want to carry on travelling after Covid-19, we should all heed it.

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31 minutes ago, Vaughan said:

You have, however, decided you can afford it, budgeted for it and paid for it.  Wanting the money back now, because you have other more important things to spend it on, may be very understandable but not realistic, in my view.  You have a business contract with the boatyard, to provide you with a holiday.  The voucher system will still provide you with that holiday.  Provided you give the business the flexibility now, so that they will still be in business when you are ready for your holiday.

My holiday was bought and paid for last october (to get the 2019 prices), I could afford it then, I am not missing the money now. if I have to wait for the holiday until 2021 so be it, many will be in the same situation, and if you look at it another way, you have a weeks holiday in hand, I think after this whole affair clears up, there will be some who would not find a holiday next year (or later this year) to be viable financially, if they have a weeks holiday in the bank, paid for, that might be the only holiday they could afford next year, something for which they might well be grateful, and if it keeps the boatyards / holiday companies in business too, then it cannot be a bad thing.

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These are "uncharted waters" that we are sailing in, so we must be objective in finding the best way out of them.

Vasco de Gama, or "Henry the Navigator" would probably have told us that the best way, is the way the wind blows.

Or as my father would have said - "Whatever you are going to do - do it to leeward!"

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I wonder if the food side will stay open for people to do their shopping that live in the homes there?

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Hopefully the convenience stores on the corner of Station Rd are still open. They are always a great place to shop, even until 10PM!

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Unfortunately Lathams statement seems to be that they are shutting down completely until it's over.

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21 hours ago, Vaughan said:

These are "uncharted waters" that we are sailing in,

That doesn't sound like an essential journey to me. !! :-)

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I saw that press release yesterday. QD stores admit they have a classification of essential and can stay open, but are choosing to close for the safety of their colleagues and customers. which is all very laudable except what would happen if Morrisons and Sainsburys etc all took the same stance? Once this is all over I think there will be a close look at the actions of some of the big chains. The Range have come under fire for installing a couple of fridges and freezers in their stores to sell very limited food to be classed as essential and stay open to sell it's extensive non food ranges. QD could stay open and do sell large amounts of food but are choosing to close. As far as I'm aware BM home bargains are a very similar store, yet are staying open. Sports Direct tried to claim they were essential and defied government pressure before doing a u turn.

I hope when this all washes out that people remember the stores that truly supported their local communities in the proper spirit of the government advice and didn't try and put profit first.

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I agree with you ECIPA, though there may well be many instances where the situation is far from "black and white". I shall take Lathams as an example but this may apply to many other businesses in holiday resort areas.

The "lockdown" has been in place for just over a week now. In that time have the Potter Heigham locals supported Lathams in that period?  It is possible that locals have treated Lathams as " the grockle shop" and shop at Tesco or Roys.

Just a thought!

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