GRACE ON THE CASE: Tui will only refund me half of my holiday even though I have cancer

I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer two weeks ago and am due to start a six month course of chemotherapy soon during which time I have been advised against international travel.

I have had to cancel my two week holiday with Tui to Lanzarote and do not consider it wise to reschedule to 2022 as I am not sure of my prognosis.

We had already postponed from 2020 and decided to take a rebooking rather than a full refund.

One consumer had to cancel their holiday to Lanzarote with Tui after a cancer diagnosis

I have been told the cancellation fee is 50 per cent and I have been refunded just £1,342.20 of the £2,684.40 I paid for the trip. 

I feel this is very unfair – is there any way I can get all the money back as I am in need of it? M.S., via email

Grace Gausden, consumer expert at This is Money, replies: First and foremost, I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis and wish you all the best in your upcoming treatment.

This is not the first time I have reported about Tui not treating customers perhaps as fairly as it should with previous examples suggesting the travel firm has not learnt its lesson.

When you were informed of your cancel diagnosis you say it took several weeks for the news to sink in.


Our weekly column sees This is Money consumer expert Grace Gausden tackles reader problems and shines the light on companies doing both good and bad.

Want her to investigate a problem, or do you want to praise a firm for going that extra mile? Get in touch:

Your oncologist advised you against any international travel as the chemotherapy will weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to infection.

You also did not want to reschedule again for next year as you are unsure whether you will need further treatment after your current course. 

It may also be the case the coronavirus is still spreading and you would be more susceptible.

As such, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that you contacted Tui to say you would be unable to make your upcoming July holiday to Lanzarote.

It had been rescheduled from last year due to the pandemic and you had decided to reschedule rather than cancel and accept a refund but now were forced to abandon the trip entirely. 

You were shocked when the company responded to say it could only refund 50 per cent of your booking, leaving you £1,342.20 out of pocket.

When you complained to Tui, you were advised it would not be changing its mind as you had cancelled the trip and in that scenario, it can only return half the funds.

One couple was shocked by Tui's response when they cancelled their holiday to Lanzarote

One couple was shocked by Tui’s response when they cancelled their holiday to Lanzarote

However, you argue that Tui are likely to resell the trip to other customers, meaning they will recoup their costs.

If you had also rescheduled the trip again for next year, you would not have lost any of the funds if you were able to make the trip.  

You add you have been a loyal customer with the travel company for 20 years and are disappointed with their response to your situation – especially as you are now in need of the money more than ever.

After many complaints, the firm simply said to claim through your travel insurance – which you were in the process of doing when you contacted me.

This is obviously an incredibly stressful and distressing time for you and your family and it seems that Tui were not prepared to make allowances for the circumstances despite your full disclosure of events.  

Therefore, I contacted Tui to ask why, in your circumstance, it would not offer a full refund when your options were very limited – and we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. 

Fortunately, it was receptive to my requests for leniency and offered to refund you the other £1,342.20 – ensuring you have all of your money back. 

A Tui spokesperson said: ‘We’re very sorry to hear of Mr S’ situation, and that he will be unable to travel to Lanzarote as planned.

‘We have refunded him in full, and are pleased that we have been able to resolve this for him.’

You have fortunately now received the amount in your bank account and can take this issue off your list. 

I wish you all the best in your recovery and hopefully, at some point in the future, you will be able to enjoy a holiday again.

A Nectar customer found his points disappeared after he wasn't able to use them during Covid

A Nectar customer found his points disappeared after he wasn’t able to use them during Covid

Hit and miss: This week’s naughty and nice list

Each week, I look at some of the companies that have fallen short of expected standards as well as those that have gone that extra mile for customers.

Miss: Not for the first time, Nectar are under scrutiny this week, after it scrapped reader Daniel’s points, saying they had expired. 

He said: ‘I did not go shopping or use my Nectar points last year due to Covid restrictions and since things have opened up again I saw my points were negative for no reason.

‘Nectar have failed to extend my points after they expired and have offered me just £9.75 in place of the 15,000 worth of points – equivalent to £75 – I had in my account. 

‘It seems totally unjust. You would think they would change the rules a bit for what we are all going through at the moment.’

I spoke to Sainsbury’s which said its usual policy is that if a Nectar account is not used for 12 months it will be temporarily deactivated and the balance reset to zero.

Customers then have a further 12 months where if they use their account card it’s reactivated and they can have the balance restored.

If the account is not activated at this point and there is no activity for 12 more months, so after two years, the account is then closed permanently and the details are removed from our systems.

However, in March 2020, it realised many of its customers may not be able to use their Nectar accounts in the same way during the pandemic and so it temporarily extended the initial period which would trigger the initial account deactivation to 15 months.

It turned out in Daniel’s case, the account deactivation occurred in January 2020, after the account wasn’t used for 12 months.

It identified a systems issue linked to his account which meant the customer service team had incorrect information about his points balance when they reactivated his account last year.

As a result, it has returned his original points and offered 500 additional Nectar points as a gesture of goodwill.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: ‘We have contacted Daniel to apologise for his experience. We have corrected his points balance and added extra points to his account as a gesture of goodwill.’

Whilst you’re not buzzing about Nectar’s customer service, at least you now have your points returned and can spend them freely.

Hit: A reader, Alex, this week praised Freddie’s Flowers.

He said: ‘Freddie’s Flowers sent me a replacement bunch of flowers after the bin men mistakenly took my original box mistaking it for rubbish.

‘It was really nice of them as it wasn’t their fault and they arranged for next day special delivery so we weren’t without.’ Blooming lovely news.