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To think that the YHA has let us down badly

(49 Posts)
AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 10:06:30

A large group of us, all single parent families, booked to stay at York YHA this weekend. It's been closed for months due to refurbishment so due to open tomorrow. We got a call on Mon/Tues to say that although the hostel would be open some of the communal areas wouldn't be ready, namely the bar and restuarant. I then spoke to the hostel directly and they said that they expected all areas to be open. Yesterday I got a phone call to say that the work isn't finished and they're not going to open at all shock That's less than 48 hours notice.

Some of our group didn't get their phone call till this morning and one person is already packed up ready to set off today due to the distance. People were coming from all over the country. The YHA can't offer alternative beds in other hostels and won't help us to find other accomodation. They just keep saying they're deeply apologetic, which isn't helping us to find accomodation for 60-70 people! I know these things happen but their attitude is appalling. Some parents have had to arrange to have their child for the weekend, some have paid for kennels and lots of people have booked and paid for the attractions in York. We've been saving for this for months, we all work hard and we were looking forward to seeing our friends and having some quality time with our children.

Groovee Uruguay Thu 28-Mar-13 10:09:55

That is awful :-(

HappyJoyful Thu 28-Mar-13 10:12:45

Gutted for you. I've always fond memories of YHA from childhood / teen years.. have looked at there site recently and must admit I was put off by prices (thought they were quite step) - now this has really put me off
Outrageous of them to not try and put you up somewhere else.

NotAQueef Thu 28-Mar-13 10:14:27

that is awful. they are still showing on hostelworld as opening tomorrow. are there any others nearby that could accomodate some of you.
sad for you - it will be nigh on impossible to find somewhere for all of you together

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 10:15:30

That is bad. Very bad of them to only tell you at such late notice. Could you not get back in touch and beg them to open just for your group, room wise, even if nothing else is open. That way you could at least get your heads down somewhere and use other places to eat?

NotAQueef Thu 28-Mar-13 10:17:56

^^ that is a good idead Arse,

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 10:21:40

I think you could make them feel suitably awful if you snivvel a bit down the phone, and say everything in your OP about kennels, childcare, visitor attraction bookings etc. I am sure you will be able to wing it somehow.

catsmother Thu 28-Mar-13 10:22:48

That is awful - as NotAQueef says it's going to be impossible to find somewhere alternative all together, let alone at a similar price and especially on a bank holiday weekend. In fact it's probably going to be near impossible to find scattered, individual accommodation at such short notice for everyone and at affordable rates.

I don't understand how they can call you one day then 24 hours later call again and go back on what had previously been discussed. At the very least they should offer you a proper explanation about why the work's not finished - it might not alter anything but perhaps you wouldn't feel quite so fobbed off if they were completely open with you and might also understand why you'd been told one thing one day and something different on another - e.g. some unforseen emergency or health and safety thing. I also agree it would be good customer service - in view of the short notice and because you'd received conflicting info - if someone there offered to try and help with other accommodation. After all, your party must have pretty much filled the place.

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 10:23:15

I've checked all the other hostels and they generally have a few beds free but some none at all. We've had a YHA manager on Radio York with one of our people but by the tone of his apology he's obviously not interested and they're not budging sad

We've been online nearly all night trying to find an alternative even if we have to split the group but there is nothing available with such short notice and within budget. Oh, and our refunds will take up to 28 days!

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 10:29:20

28 days for a refund??????? Get thee onto twitter. I don';t do twitter, but someone must be able to do it. Spread the word of what a letdown this is. Name and shame. I am actually quite horrified for you that not only do you not get your weekend away, but you would have to shell out again in finding somewhere else if you did plan to go ahead.

NatashaBee Thu 28-Mar-13 10:29:26

That is shocking - I would get on trip advisor, booking.com and any other review sites you can think of and make sure each member of the party writes a review explaining what's happened.

PhyllisDoris Thu 28-Mar-13 10:43:35

Is there a YHA Head Office you could call to discuss the problem with?

Also, I strongly urge you to tweet about it, and write on Facebook about how badly you've been treated. Get everyone and his friend to retweet and repost as much as possible. It might not get you your weekend back, but it might get you a better apology and increase the level of compensation offered, and it will make you feel better.

parachutesarefab Thu 28-Mar-13 10:44:11

Awful, but unfortunately you'll probably find that their terms and conditions allow them to cancel your booking, and all they need to do is repay and money you have paid. There's always a risk that building work can overrun. If you have travel insurance you may be able to claim something on that (I know I would only have it for a weekend away in this country if I had an annual policy - but if people have paid for a lot of things other than accomodation they may well have covered themselves).

You need to speak to someone high up, and see what they can realistically do to help you.

They won't be able to provide alternative accomodation - but they could help you to look for some, by phoning hotels, B&Bs etc, and to apologise maybe they could offer you an alternative weekend away, for free? I know that doesn't fix this weekend, but maybe it could help with a break next year? (We recently booked a whole hostel, for over 60 of us, and it was brilliant.)

Less than 48 hours notice is appalling.

I hope you manage to salvage this weekend (I assume you've been in touch with the tourist office). And that YHA come up with something to properly make amends.

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 10:47:45

We've pulled out all the stops, Facebook, Twitter, local radio and non stop phone calls.

They've just started to look into possible alternatives for us which they're only doing because we've kicked up such a stink about it. I'm feeling slightly more optimistic...

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 10:49:44

Initially the YHA offered us a night free in York when it does open. They've now said that they'll look at extra expenses such as kennel fees and attraction bookings.

parachutesarefab Thu 28-Mar-13 10:54:37

Have you tried caravan parks? Budget, and the weather may have put people off, so not fully booked (hopeful emoticon). I've no idea how many have caravans you can book for a weekend, or whether any of you have access to a caravan / motorhome??

Yes to radio coverage, other media, facebook, twitter etc.

parachutesarefab Thu 28-Mar-13 10:55:30

Need to type quicker - keep cross posting. Glad it's looking slightly more hopeful.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 28-Mar-13 11:00:32

Well you're doing the right thing. That's appalling, sloppy behaviour and they should be publicly shamed into finding accommodation for you - even if that means them paying the difference at a hotel.

If they can't offer that (why not?), then a compensatory free weekend of greater value and all your pre-paid tickets and transport refunded.

Are you members of Gingerbread or another single parent organisation? Do they have a press office? Honestly, I think given the size of your group and crapness of their project management and customer service, this is more than a local story. The Chief Exec of the YHA association should be explaining it on national radio.

You are absolutely the YHA's target market. They've been trying to reinvent themselves in recent years, losing custom to independent hostels and B+Bs at one end, camping barns at the other, because their product is no longer unique and is expensive for what it is. They've tried to go upmarket, targeting groups who will eat in, like you, rather than the traditional but dwindling clientele of young, indepndent outdoorsy types on a budget, who cook for themselves.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 28-Mar-13 11:01:58

To conclude that thought - they need your business and the business of people like you - hence your publicity power.

MNetBlackpoolLE Thu 28-Mar-13 11:07:45

At the very worst they should be refunding immediately, you can't cancel someones booking then keep their money for 28 days so they can't afford to book elsewhere. Shameful.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 28-Mar-13 11:12:42

Of course Mumsnet has press office. This sort of individual case isn't the sort of thing they work on, it's all planned campaigns but maybe they could offer some advice?

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 11:14:02

www.facebook.com/home.php#!/YHAbeinspired?fref=ts

The apology!

YHA exec is now looking at the possibility of letting us use one of their places that is normally only available to school groups.

People power grin

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 11:16:08

Can anyone tell me what the apology says, I don't do facebook either!!

At least things are looking a little less gloomy than they were an hour or so ago. Keep up the pressure!

MNetBlackpoolLE Thu 28-Mar-13 11:18:30

All directions, could you pm me with what group it is, I am a single mum and would have loved something like this, hope it works out!

I think the YHA have let everyone down tbh.

They used to be about being cheap and affordable with few luxuries, now they're like 5 star hotels with the fee-structure to go with it.

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 11:20:41

Last time I went YH, we shared a room with some real earthy hiking type woman. She strolled in, took her damp sweaty socks off and hung them on the radiator next to my pillow. That was my YH days over. (long time ago mind)

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 11:28:05

To be fair I love youth hostels. They're nice, friendly places that are generally clean and have great facilities such as big self catering kitchens and large communal areas. We're all YHA members and we share rooms were possible which really keeps the cost down.

MNetBlackpoolLE We all met through www.singlewithkids.co.uk either through local meet ups or by going on their trips/holidays. This wasn't an organised trip though, it was just a few of us booked to go away and then a few more and a few more until we ended up with 60-70 of us! Where do you live? I can honestly say that SingleWithKids has changed my life smile

Some of the people that go are just rude though. I share too, and like to keep late nights.

I creep in, get changed in the dark and go to sleep quietly.

They let their alarm ring forever at 5am, then rustle bags and bang doors without even trying. I don't give a fig if they are trying to see sunrise at the top of Helvellyn, they can see I'm asleep. Have some bloody manners.

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 11:33:14

ArseAche I remember those days too. I hated having to do a chore before you could leave!

Youth hostels are soooo much better these days. We normally book private rooms though just to ensure we don't have random sweaty socks on our radiators grin

Viviennemary Thu 28-Mar-13 11:39:10

I've never stayed in a Youth Hostel in this country. But what bad management and customer care to give you such short notice. I think this should be exposed in the national press. The way it has been handled is a disgrace. Phone up Trading Standards for a start.+

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 11:39:33

Yes, this must have been about 28 years ago, and I have to admit it was the biggest laugh. We still chuckle about it now, and I know things have changed alot since then, cos you had to have females in one area, males in another. Even married couples without kids had to be seperated! You could only be together if you had children. Twas brilliant though.

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 11:41:46

The socks were some sort of vegan hessian grin

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 11:42:11

The apology;

We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and upset caused by the delay to the opening of YHA York.

Our team have been working flat out, literally night and day, but over the last critical weeks events have conspired against us, most notably the weather and regrettably we have had to delay our full opening.

We would encourage any guests planning to stay with us in York this weekend to get in touch with us as soon as they can. We will of course be offering full refunds to anyone effected, and in addition we will extend an invitation to come and stay with us again, as our guests.

Our team are making every effort to contact everyone affected as quickly as possible.

We will post any updates here as soon as we have them.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 28-Mar-13 11:42:55

Ah, those bag rustlers! How else would you know how loud a plastic bag could be?

I'm of the walking Helvellyn and hanging up damp clothes persuasion (though most have drying rooms now) but only use YHs when we go away in large groups (so block book our rooms and annexe ourselves away from the more delicate occupants) as, as a couple, B+Bs offer better facilities at the same price and, as a smaller group, camping barns are the cheap basic option that YHs used to be. Large groups, especially with children, so unlikely to go out for their evening meal, are their new bread and butter.

Good luck OP!

Whereisthesnow Thu 28-Mar-13 11:46:12

So sorry to hear this op.
Just to say try the university - they let out rooms in halls of residence during holiday time

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 11:47:45

We were always grateful that she never proceeded to put her handcrafted tie dye knitted pants on the radiator too.

Actually I remember stifling the giggles all evening at everyone else. You know, a lone traveller strumming along on his guitar and singing to himself. Pissed myself as he hiked off into the morning mist with the guitar strapped to his back pack with a saucepan hanging off it.

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 11:53:43

Actually I remember stifling the giggles all evening at everyone else. You know, a lone traveller strumming along on his guitar and singing to himself. Pissed myself as he hiked off into the morning mist with the guitar strapped to his back pack with a saucepan hanging off it.

I'm feeling all nostalgic now!

Where the uni is closed this weekend but we're trying to get the YHA to talk them into opening for us.

Don't get me wrong. I love Helvellyn, but preferably in the afternoon with a race to the bottom before night sets in and straight into a pub to warm up not leaving until the early hours and then oh so very quietly letting myself into the dorm.

hopefloats Thu 28-Mar-13 13:06:06

What if there is no water supply, or the work to the gas main hasn't been signed off? There may be a very serious reason why they can't open. They really aren't staying shut just to inconvenience 70 single parents.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 28-Mar-13 13:32:09

All problems that could have been anticipated more than 48 hours before opening, hopefloats. This is a major project with terrible project management.

ArseAche Thu 28-Mar-13 13:33:02

HopeFloats - that decision should have been made well before the 48 hours they were given.

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 13:50:18

I was one of the first to be informed and I was given 46 hours notice. Some of the others only got phone calls this morning! It's not acceptable.

We found one place that would open for us but the cost is nearly twice what we'd paid for the YHA and the location wasn't where we wanted to be. The location we could have managed with but since we won't get our refunds from the YHA for up to 4 weeks the cost is a problem.

kim147 Thu 28-Mar-13 13:54:45

I drive past there everyday and have been watching the refurbishements. A real shame it's not ready for you.

But it's not acceptable to have such short notice. I'm a big fan of the YHA but you've been mucked round.

LessMissAbs Thu 28-Mar-13 13:59:15

That's pathetic. Really pathetic. I have some holiday apartments I let through an agency, and its in my terms and conditions that I have to pay the cost of alternative accommodation once I have taken the booking. The YHA is a massive organisation compared to me, and if they had alternative accommodation usually used for schools, it should have been offered straight away. Alternatively, they shouldn't have taken your booking in the first place should building work have been likely to overrun.

The attitude is appalling as well.

AllDirections Thu 28-Mar-13 14:09:13

Some of the other families are going to book some caravans on a Haven site but it's not for me. I like to eat communally and to sit and have a glass of wine on an evening in the communal areas. I like the children to have space to move around without bothering people. I like the family atmosphere that we create by staying in YHAs because that's what's missing in my life.

I'm really upset and the children are not happy. DD1 was meeting up with her best friend and DD2 was looking forward to spending time with her boyfriend. We've been counting down the weeks. If only we'd known a couple of weeks ago as we could probably have found another YHA to stay in sad

PhyllisDoris Thu 28-Mar-13 14:12:48

It won't be at all the same, but if you don't mind roughing it, you may be able to hire a church hall, scout/guide hut or similar at short notice. We sleepover all the time in village halls with Brownies. Facilities will be basic, (airbeds, sleeping bags, basic bathroom etc) but cheap, and you're only there to sleep.
Most halls of that type would sleep a combination of 20-30 adults/kids.

kim147 Thu 28-Mar-13 14:14:05

I understand what you mean about the atmosphere in YHAs - not the same as the Haven camp. I can see why you're disappointed.

Thanks for the link to the holiday site - it is difficult and also lonely going away as a single parent so that's a useful site.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 28-Mar-13 15:56:27

Afternoon.

The folks at the YHA have seen this thread and have asked us to post up the following statement on their behalf:

"We apologise for the disruption and disappointment we have caused to those people planning to travel to York this weekend. Despite our best efforts, the last few critical days of our £2million refurbishment have not gone to plan with the unprecedented weather we have had this week.

"Since this morning, difficulties with the fire alarm system at YHA York have forced us to close the site to all guests. At the final stage of commissioning the fire alarm we have discovered a fault and we have decided to close the hostel until Friday next week at the earliest.

"Customer safety is the first priority for YHA and we do not compromise on issues if there is any risk to our guests.

"We appreciate the impact on all of our guests this weekend and are trying everything we can to lessen this.

"YHA has a phone number for anyone affected to call 01629 592700 and our contact centre will be specially opened tomorrow.

"We will make full refunds for any accommodation booked with us, and do everything possible to make full amends for any additional costs incurred, such as travel or attractions that cannot be recovered. We will do this as quickly as possible.

"We have been trying to find alternative accommodation in or close to York. As you can imagine over a bank holiday weekend this has been difficult. If an alternative hostel anywhere within our network may be suitable for any of our guests we will be happy to welcome them there if rooms are available. Please contact us on 01629 592700 if this may be an option.

"Once again our sincere apologies for the distress caused. We do hope that we can welcome any of our guests affected into YHA York or any of our other hostels soon. If anyone booked this weekend has not yet been in touch with our team, please dont hesitate to call us on 01629 592700."

lottiegarbanzo Thu 28-Mar-13 16:16:21

I find it hard to belive there is not accommodation available in York that would suit this party. I do believe that the YHA would not be willing to pay what it would cost.

If all that is available to this party is a refund for actual costs, given the group's size and the cost or suitability of any alternative accommodation, I would expect a sigificant good will gesture in addition, such as a free weekend at a hostel to be offered to them. It's the least the YHA could do.

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