2,000 bookings with The Sun's '£9.50 hols' promo hit by 'technical issue'
Holidaymakers who booked trips via The Sun's popular '£9.50 hols' promo have been left angry and disappointed after a "technical issue" resulted in them suddenly being told their holiday was unavailable, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal. If you're affected, here's the latest info and what you can do.
To purchase the holidays, customers have to collect tokens and codes printed in The Sun – you need to collect 10 between Saturday 4 January and Tuesday 28 January, and can then book a holiday between February and November this year. The Sun calls these '£9.50 holidays' – in reality they're never quite that cheap once you include extras, but they can still be a decent deal.
We've seen more than 20 complaints from Sun readers who say they've been unexpectedly told the holiday they tried to book was not available – and in total The Sun says that some 2,000 holidays originally booked on 12 and 13 January have been "impacted".
Those we've spoken to say that after booking their holiday and receiving an email saying "We've made your holiday booking", they then received a further email from Greenbank Holidays – one of the scheme's operators – saying that "due to an unfortunate computer error" the holiday they'd tried to book was unavailable.
The newspaper says all affected customers will be notified by the end of today, and that it'll work to rebook or refund people, though so far fewer than 100 bookings have been rebooked.
For full details on how the scheme works, see our The Sun '£9.50' Holidays guide.
'We are so upset – it seems like a total farce'
We've had a number of emails from angry holidaymakers who were told the holidays they'd tried to book were unavailable. Some say they are worried about being left out of pocket for extra elements of their holiday they've booked independently, such as flights, while others are unhappy that availability of alternative holidays may now be limited.
- One MoneySavingExpert user, Sharon, told us: "I made a booking through The Sun website for a holiday between 21 and 28 August to Ca' Savio on the Venetian coast. I received an email... I booked my flights on credit card and assumed everything would be OK.
"We are so upset. This was our first time booking with The Sun and it's left a sour taste in our mouth. It seems like a total farce to me."
- Another, Fiona, said: "We got an email giving the impression that the holiday had been booked. We proceeded to book flights independently to avoid prices of flights increasing.
"We were then contacted saying there was a technical hitch, which meant our accommodation wasn't available, and offered a refund and an insulting £25 goodwill gesture. We looked into booking it directly as it appeared there was availability – but it was an extra £700."
- MoneySaver Emma said: "I run my own business and if I have made a mistake I pay to put it right and not let the customer down."
One reader shared the email she received from Greenbank Holidays:
I've been affected – what can I do?
The Sun has confirmed that affected customers are being offered the choice of booking an alternative holiday or taking a full refund plus a further £25 as a goodwill gesture.
While many have told us they're unhappy with that, unfortunately in this case your rights to further compensation may be limited. This is because whilst the email customers were sent after booking said "We've made your holiday booking", the terms of the offer state that the contract comes into effect when customers are sent a confirmation email.
The Sun says if your holiday's been affected you should ring the helpline that's been set up for affected customers. It's open until 10pm each day this week and across the weekend – the number's 0344 245 8078. Its staff will be able to help you find an alternative holiday, sort out a refund and change or cancel any ferry booking made as part of the trip.
If you've made other separate bookings, such as flights or car hire, you should also ring the number and explain this. It's worth asking for this money to be refunded but don't expect to get one – you'll only likely get money back if it's something you've booked via Greenbank Holidays. Let us know how you get on at email@example.com.
What does The Sun say?
A Sun spokesperson said: "On Friday, we became aware of a technical issue with the booking system of one of our operators, Greenbank Holidays Ltd, which has impacted around 2,000 holidays.
"Each year, we send over 400,000 people away, and making sure our readers make happy memories at an affordable price is our absolute priority. We know how important these holidays are, and have been working closely with partners to resolve the problem as swiftly as possible. All impacted customers will be notified by the end of the day. So far, 93 have been rebooked and over 1,000 have been refunded."
A Greenbank Holidays spokesperson said: "We are sorry to learn that an unfortunate computer error in our partnership with The Sun ‘Hols from £9.50’ has left many people disappointed that the promotional holidays they wanted are unavailable.
"There were 22,000 breaks available for this promotion, but the limit on holidays at this special promotional price did not meet the huge demand. We fully recognise how frustrating this is for those affected, but as per the terms and conditions of The Sun ‘Hols from £9.50’ promotion our contract with the customer comes into effect when we send a confirmation email, which was never issued."