Tui call centre staff mistook the company’s terms and conditions by telling a customer who witnessed the massacre of 38 tourists that she couldn’t change destination amid security concerns, an inquest has heard.
Tracy Emery – present at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse on June 26 2015 when lone gunman Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire – decided to join her daughter on holiday after she split up with her boyfriend.
Emery, a seasoned traveller who had been to Tunisia before, said she routinely checked FCO travel advice before departing on holiday and was wary of the terror threat following news of an attack at the Bardo museum in Tunis in March 2015.
“I called them [Tui’s Thomson call centre] to change the travel arrangements because she [her daughter] was no longer with her boyfriend. I checked the price to change names and destination.
“In my mind, if I was going to change everything now I would rather change the country as well because of what happened there.”
On May 11 Emery was told she was “just outside” the dates when she could pay £50 per person to change destination.
But she was allowed to pay £50 to change one of the names on the booking and £250 to upgrade to a different property – the five star Imperial Marhaba Hotel.
“They put me on hold for a little while and came back and said I was just outside the date to change the country,” said Emery, who wanted to instead go to the Canary Islands.
But an internal Tui email, shown to the court from Tui customer services representative Richard Bennett, said Emery should have been allowed to change from Tunisia to a different country for £50.
It read: “She should have been given information consistent with our terms and conditions.
“The departure date for that holiday was June 21, and May 11 was just over six weeks before departure. If she had wanted to change destination then she could have, and would have had to pay £50 per person and any difference in the price if the new destination was more expensive.”
When the coroner, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith, asked Emery whether she would have paid £50 to change destination, she said she would.
Howard Stevens QC, Tui’s legal representative, suggested Emery might have got the words “amendment” and “cancellation” confused.
But Mrs Emery dismissed his suggestion, adding: “No. I knew I would have to pay for amendments.”
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