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Family fails to get holiday money back

PUBLISHED: 09:25 27 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:38 05 July 2010

THE family of a severely disabled boy has been told they will not get any money back after the collapse of a tour operator left their holiday dream in tatters.

THE family of a severely disabled boy has been told they will not get any money back after the collapse of a tour operator left their holiday dream in tatters.

When tour operator XL Leisure Group folded last September, six-year-old Callum Knights and his family were left stranded at Gatwick Airport.

It was only thanks to the generosity of a mystery benefactor - known simply as Jenny from Halesworth - who heard about the Lowestoft family's cancelled holiday on the radio, and stepped in and paid for them all to go to Florida.

Callum's mum Beverly Spencer, her husband Jason and Callum's grandparents spent more than a year saving up for the holiday, which had cost them about £6,000, so that Callum - who has cerebral palsy and is profoundly deaf - could swim with dolphins. Now the family has been told that they will not get any of their money back because they paid for the trip in cash - leaving them about £5,000 out of pocket.

A Tesco credit card was used to pay £1,000 towards the holiday, and the £100 deposit was put on a Barclaycard - all of which the family have had back - but the rest of the balance was paid in cash, which is not covered by the same protection as credit card transactions.

Purchases between £100 and £30,000 made on credit cards of are covered by legal protection known as Section 75. This means that if a company goes bust, you can go to the credit card provider to get your money back, but cash and debit card transactions do not have the same legal cover.

Mrs Spencer said: “We were paying a bit here and a bit there, putting money away every week. We also had a charity fund to raise money for Callum to swim with dolphins and those donations were all in cash which we then paid in to the bank.”

She added: “We sent off all the paper work to try and get the money back, or at least some compensation, but now we've had a letter to say we're not getting any money back.

“If the nice lady hadn't paid for us to go, we wouldn't have had a holiday at all - or any of our money back.”

While the family were able to go on holiday thanks to the generosity of a total stranger, they had paid to stay in a special Disney resort hotel - which could not be booked again at such short notice - and will not be able to get any of that money back.

Mrs Spencer said that last year's holiday had been “truly magical”, but losing the money meant that they might not be able to afford to go again.

“We wanted to go again this year because it had an amazing effect on Callum and the others loved it, but now we're not sure if we can. It benefited Callum so much, but this has really put us off because we're worried it might all happen again.”

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