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Case studies - John and Eileen Cruise

Thomas Cook cancelled their holiday without telling them what it was going to do

Which? members John and Eileen Andrews won back £1,162 with help from our legal experts when their 14-night cruise was cancelled without their knowledge.

The couple booked a £3,912 Scandinavian and Russian cruise, including an unlimited drinks package worth £768, with Thomas Cook.

They paid a £300 deposit to Thomas Cook and were sent a booking confirmation by cruise operator, RCL Cruises Limited, which said the balance was due eight weeks before the May 2013 departure. Thomas Cook said it was due 17 weeks before and sent a reminder, but the couple relied on RCL’s booking confirmation as it was in line with other cruises they’d been on.

John went to pay the balance on March 21 and found that Thomas Cook had cancelled the booking two days earlier. It had tried to call them but left no message, and it also didn’t email or write to say what it was going to do.

John and Eileen contacted RCL, which refused to reinstate the holiday, claiming the contract was between the couple and Thomas Cook. It let them rebook, but without the drinks package.

The couple went on the holiday, and complained to RCL and Thomas Cook when they got back. RCL offered £400 in vouchers for a cruise, which they rejected. Thomas Cook didn’t respond.

Our advice  

We advised John and Eileen that their contract was with RCL, not Thomas Cook. They wrote to both saying they intended to make a claim in the county court. RCL said Thomas Cook was at fault, and Thomas Cook failed to respond. The couple claimed for the loss of the drinks package and drinks bought on the cruise. RCL said its conditions were valid and Thomas Cook cancelled the cruise in error. Thomas Cook offered to settle for £1,162 and no further action was taken against RCL.

What the law says

Thomas Cook had no right to demand payment outside the conditions of the RCL contract. By cancelling, it breached an implied term in the holiday booking contract. Under The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 a service must be provided with reasonable care and skill. It also breached Abta’s code of conduct by failing to respond to the couple. Abta members must acknowledge complaints in 14 days and send a detailed reply, or explain why there’s a delay, within 28 days. See abta.com/about-abta/code-of-conduct.