It’s Day 2 of our Greek island hopping experience. And after a long day spent sailing and swimming in Balos Lagoon off of the island of Crete, I checked my emails and hotel reservations for our next stop: Santorini. The part of the trip I was the most excited for.
“Your booking has been paid in full, for 31 October – 4 November 2017”
I’m sorry, what? That can’t be right. The dates are obviously wrong. So I searched my inbox for another email confirmation stating the exact dates that I’ve booked: 30th July – 3 August 2017. Why on earth would I schedule an entire island hopping trip (flights, hotels, ferries, car rentals, tours) using multiple tour operators, where the dates all connected – and splurge on a random weekend in October in Santorini? That makes no fucking sense. A mild panic washes over me.
At this point, I start to realize that we have no accommodation in Santorini. I go over all the details of the entire trip once again, and everything lines up; everything I’ve booked on Kayak, Travel Republic and Booking.com are all correct…. Just this one booking, booked through a dodgy little website called Love Holidays, doesn’t connect with the rest of our trip. What the actual fuck.
“It’s no big deal; it’s a mistake and we can fix it in the morning.” MJ tells me.
The morning comes and we make the call to the Love Holidays In Resort team, explaining the awful situation – only to get shut down immediately by Andi Berthiaume, head of brand. Very matter-of-factly, she told us “You booked a non-refundable room, so we can’t give your money back. Is there anything else we can help you with today?”
Zero empathy. And zero customer service. Now, while I realize that I probably should’ve checked the confirmation sooner and called them a lot sooner to get it fixed, I actually expected some sort of after-sale service from Love Holidays – a company that uses the words “Great customer service” to describe themselves online.
As a customer, was I wrong to expect that? I know that the person in charge of customer experience (which I had asked to speak to, but instead was passed on to the brand manager) are given a budget which they are able to use in these exact instances; when a customer is in distress. They are able to dig into their budget and use it at their discretion – so that they are able to deliver on their brand promise of “Great customer service.” But instead, Andy continued to treat us like idiots on the phone, not willing to listen, telling me it was my fault and not theirs.
They were not willing to accept any responsibility. Now, here’s where I have a problem with this. If you perform a very specific search on the Love Holidays website, entering location/hotel name, date and period of your stay – the website automatically changes the dates that you initially entered just in time for you to enter your payment information.
In the screengrabs above you’ll see my initial search, followed by one click through to the “Hotel Info” option. This is followed by the confirmation page, where you’re greeted with a countdown clock, creating a sense of urgency for you to complete the booking. When done in a hurry it is very easy for some details to be overlooked. And I just wanted Love Holidays to acknowledge this flaw in their user journey and offer me some sort of resolution. But they outright refused.
Now, I want you to understand exactly what happened here, so I’m going to use another brand as an example. A brand, who always gets it right. When shopping for trainers, and you add a pair of Nike AirForce 1 to your basket, you don’t expect to see a pair of Nike Cortez in your basket when checking out, do you? Or maybe a Nike Tech Fleece Windrunner because hey, you’ve initially searched for summer apparel, so we think maybe you’d be interested in winter apparel instead. Therefore, we’ve added a Nike Tech Fleece Windrunner to your basket instead of the Nike AirForce 1 you initially added. So all you have to do is click confirm to pay and you’re winter coat will be on its way to you. But hurry, you have to do it in 10 minutes! NO! Nike wouldn’t do that because that’s just terrible customer experience.
I pointed out the bad UX of their website to Andy, trying to get her to see my side of the situation here. But I honestly think it would’ve been more helpful if I had spoken to a robot.
All I wanted them to help with was either one of two things:
Change the dates of my booking
- The general terms of my contract stated that I was able to change dates of my booking at the cost of a £25 admin fee. This option was not offered to me.
Cancel the booking (with a % refund)
- The contract states that if I cancel my booking within 28 days of my departure, the cost is non-refundable. Since I flagged the issue on the 29th July and my booking was for the 31st October – well over 28 days notice – I was still told that I would not be refunded for my booking. Not even partially.
So £££ later and I immediately got onto Booking.com to book another hotel in Santorini. And as I expected, the process was seamless and flawless. It made me question why I had even bothered with Love Holidays in the first place, when there are other more superior services out there that have been doing this travel thing for centuries.
There was one positive that came from this experience; we ended up seeing a lot more of Santorini than we initially planned because of where we stayed. At such short notice, it was close to impossible to rebook accommodation in Oia, Santorini – no thanks to Love Holidays – so we stayed in Messaria instead, a central town that allowed us to see Oia, Fira and the different colour beaches that we probably wouldn’t have seen if we stayed in Oia.
I would not recommend Love Holidays to anyone looking for discount travel packages. There are so many other, more reputable companies I’d rather use now that I know better. Like Booking.com, Kayak, Travel Republic, OnTheBeach and Jet2Holidays that offer the same service + actual Great Customer Service. Avoid LoveHolidays at all cost. The “saving” is not worth it.