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Surely this "cancellation policy" isn't legally enforceable? Holiday cottage booking

(38 Posts)
Petal02 Mon 07-Mar-16 12:24:31

We made a booking with a holiday cottage company, for the last week in May 2016. Over Christmas, we realised we wouldn't be able to go, so during the first week in January 2016, I emailed the company to cancel. I expected to lose my deposit -but was rather surprised when they came back to say that if they couldn't re-let the cottage, then we would still be liable to the full balance !!!

As we gave almost 6 months notice, surely they can't do this? I have no argument with losing our deposit, but would object strongly to paying any more? This sounds very unreasonable to me.

AndNowItsSeven Mon 07-Mar-16 12:27:15

What do the T's and C's say? I Imogene they can set their own rules.

Petal02 Mon 07-Mar-16 12:35:09

"In the event of a cancellation I will immediately advise John Smith Cottages (not real name). I understand they will without prejudice to the balance in full, use their best endeavours to re-let."

This is from the T&Cs.

When I emailed John Smith Cottages regarding our need to cancel, they came back and said that if they were unable to re-let, we are liable for the full cost of the holiday.

So whilst I understand that people can make up their own rules, would it be legally enforceable? I think this is pretty unreasonable as we have given nearly six months notice. I wouldn't argue if I'd cancelled the week before!

ACatastrophicMisintepretation Mon 07-Mar-16 13:09:02

Exactly same happened to me with a cottage booking I made and had to cancel last year - being heavily pregnant and tottering around cliff top walks didn't have the same appeal as when I booked it!

Try not to worry as I'm sure it will get rebooked, it was nice enough for you to want to book so someone else will I'm sure! Especially in May, lots of people go away at this time to miss the school holiday rush. The one I booked was for June and it was re-let within the week I think

Petal02 Mon 07-Mar-16 13:41:52

I cancelled in January, and the cottage remains un-let (I keep checking their website) !!!

Fourormore Mon 07-Mar-16 15:01:47

Did you book online? Does the online selling 14 day thing not apply?

Petal02 Mon 07-Mar-16 15:22:34

Yes I booked on line, but more than 14 days had elapsed between booking and cancellation.

LIZS Mon 07-Mar-16 15:31:48

Doesn't that t & c imply you are fully liable unless they relet. Presumably you agreed to this when you paid the deposit. They are marketing it as vacant by the sounds of it so you may be lucky.

GlindatheFairy Mon 07-Mar-16 15:40:44

Have they taken the payment? If not I'd wait and see what happens, but it sounds like an unfair contract term to me that they'd have trouble enforcing in court, especially given you have already paid and lost a deposit. Don't pay the full amount if they ask you to.

BertieBotts Mon 07-Mar-16 15:42:39

That's a terrible policy especially as you cancelled so early.

Go with Air BnB next time!

DesertOrDessert Mon 07-Mar-16 15:48:23

No, don't go with Airbnb. I got told my booking couldn't be met by the host, and told to find somewhere else. Have now booked elsewhere, and now Airbnb are telling me my first choice is booked for me, and they will debit my card. They aren't responding to messages.

Hope it gets rebooked, petal

Backingvocals Mon 07-Mar-16 15:58:54

That's bad and it wouldn't occur to me that they could take the whole fee. I don't know what would be the definition of an unfair contract term but just because it says so in Ts & Cs doesn't make it legally enforceable.

Also you might not know if they have been able to relet it. They could just decide to let it without putting it on the website and pocket two sets of fees.

Balletgirlmum Mon 07-Mar-16 16:02:15

It's standard when you book some accommodation that you can't necessarily cancel. Usually places that do let you cancel charge a higher rate.

It's like hotel bookings or theatre tickets.

AndNowItsSeven Mon 07-Mar-16 16:10:07

If it remains I let could you advertise it yourself at a discount to friends of friends etc. Eg if it cost you £600 offer it to people if they pay you £300.

lougle Mon 07-Mar-16 16:26:56

You booked and agreed to the T&C. That clause says they'll do their best to get another booking but, if not, you'll be liable to pay the full fee.

Why do you think that's unenforceable?

FishWithABicycle Mon 07-Mar-16 17:05:43

I bet you could find someone to take the booking from you. Do you suspect they aren't using their best endeavours to re-let?

babybarrister Mon 07-Mar-16 17:31:26

I think that the clause sounds reasonable as they say you have to pay IF they cannot relet. you can try and argue the toss though if they sue you for the rest of the fee - have you spoken to trading standards as to their view of the term?

Twowrongsdontmakearight Mon 07-Mar-16 17:46:23

I think it's more common that you think. Same as when a restaurant can charge you for lost profit if you don't turn up for a booking. Charging the full amount is unreasonable IMO though.

dontcryitsonlyajoke Mon 07-Mar-16 17:53:38

Why on earth do they get you to pay just a holding deposit and not the whole thing upfront if actually you're liable for the whole cost anyway? Because they know nobody would book if they had to commit all the money upfront, yet effectively that's what you're committing to based on their Ts & Cs

I suspect it will let partic if that is May half term so hope it will be a moot point anyway.

However you probably are liable given those Ts & Cs sad

Petal02 Mon 07-Mar-16 19:27:08

Someone asked up-thread why I would expect the t&c's to be unenforceable: it's the first time I've come across this type of issue. If you book a package holiday, you'd expect to lose your deposit if you cancel, can you imagine First Choice etc trying to invoice someone the full value of a week in Spain that they'd cancelled six months prior to departure? And I've never known a hotel operate like this?

lougle Mon 07-Mar-16 19:50:47

But if they were the terms and you agreed to them, then you are bound by them. You could refuse to pay so they would be forced to take you to small claims court. But it would be very easy for them to prove financial loss if every other week in the summer has bookings except that one.

Petal02 Mon 07-Mar-16 21:00:34

I just wondered if such a policy would be legally enforceable, hence the question in my opening post. You know how some shops may insist ' no refunds' even though that's not legally the case.

LaundryFairy Mon 07-Mar-16 21:03:13

If it is a case of having to pay the full amount, will they consider transferring your booking to another time?

caroldecker Mon 07-Mar-16 21:31:51

All airlines are non-refundable as soon as booked, thomson (for example) take a minimum 50% for hotel only deals, so does not appear unenforceable.

GlindatheFairy Tue 08-Mar-16 16:20:09

If they try and enforce the full amount, report them to trading standards, it's unreasonable.

How likely is it they would suffer a loss? If they are so busy that you can't even cancel six months before then a) they should have taken full payment to secure the booking and b) they should be able to find alternative punters easily.

If they aren't so busy that they cannot even let the place with six months to do so, then they don't need more than six months notice of cancellation, as they were never than much in demand anyway.

They have already gained by keeping your deposit.

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