Court ruling welcomed by Blackpool hoteliers group after man's nightmare stay
A Blackpool hotel has been slammed after a visitor took the owners to court following a nightmare overnight stay.
Trading Standards are investigating after the Chaplin’s Hotel in Albert Road was ordered to pay the man £100, plus £6.70 interest and £25 court costs.
William Hampson from Croydon took owner Mr Zhelez Petkov to the county court, complaining the hotel displayed three-star Visit England accreditation and a good breakfast award on its website and on the front of the building – when it did not have such status anymore.
Stay Blackpool welcomed the court’s finding in Mr Hampson’s favour and said any hotel displaying misleading or out of date signage should be punished.
The problem began in July 27 last year when Mr Hampson arrived for a four day visit to Blackpool in memory of his late parent, who had brought the family to Blackpool for their summer holidays for many years.
Mr Hampson, a hotel manager for 23 years but who has now got a potentially life-limiting chronic illness, wanted to recreate an old photo he had of his grandad sat with the Tower in the background.
He said he wanted the good old fashioned Blackpool B&B experience like he had when he was a child and chose Chaplin’s as it apparently had three star accreditation.
But when he arrived, he was told by the owner that they had had to change his room to one on the third floor which had three beds in it.
He said the beds were crammed in and blocked the door to the bathroom, which he said was a safety problem.
He said: “The room was damp with peeling wallpaper, and contained mould throughout.
“With a chronic illness relating to my immune system, my consultant can confirm this level of hygiene leaves me vulnerable to opportunist infections.
“The walls were so thin I could hear everything going on in the next room.
“From 10pm on the first night to 6am, I could hear the guest next door fighting for several hours with a prostitute he was refusing to pay. This left me feeling vulnerable and fearful as I could hear physical, verbal, and emotional violence.”
He said he heard the man drag the girl out of the room by her hair and throw her out.
He tried to contact the hotel owner online but failed and said he was too afraid to call in case he was overheard.
“At 11pm, I pulled back the duvet to discover a blood stain on the sheet that had also stained the duvet, indicating the bedding had not been changed,” he said.
“At 2am I contacted booking.com with whom I booked, who stated this was not acceptable. They too could not reach the defendant. They said I should be entitled to a full refund in the amount of £100.”
Mr Hampson left the hotel without eating breakfast and contacted Stay Blackpool, which found him an alternative place to stay – the Chorlton Hotel.
He later brought an action in the civil court against Mr Petkov to get his cash back and supplied the court with a bundle of evidence.
He said: “The Deputy District Judge of Croydon County Court, quoting from several sections of my bundle and claim, showed he had reviewed my claim fully and he stated, ‘I am satisfied you had the most horrendous experience at this hotel who deliberately misrepresented itself with Visit England accreditation.
“‘Had they not deliberately misrepresented itself with Visit England accreditation via the booking website, needless to say you would not have booked with them.’”
Chaplin’s Hotel has generally favourable reviews on online booking sites and was taken over by Mr Petkov in March 2019.
Mr Petkov spoke to The Gazette after the court hearing, which he did not attend because, he claimed, he had not received notification from the court, and said the signage was left on the website and hotel merely by oversight.
He refuted Mr Hampshire’s version of events and said: “If you check our reviews they are good but sometimes people say bad things.
“I submitted documents (to the court) but afterwards no-one got back to me. When I have tried to contact the court it has been very busy.”
Mr Petrov said the hotel removed the Visit England accreditation on Thursday, but the logo was still on the Chaplin’s website at the time of going to press.
“He said there were aggressive people in the next room but he was on the third floor and we live on the ground floor,” he said.
“We did not hear and nobody informed us. I have the phone records that no-one called us.
“When he said he was afraid to speak in case they hear him. That is ridiculous.
“There were a lot of people staying here at that same time and nobody else complained.
“I didn’t leave the signs because I wanted to give false advertisement, I just didn’t notice.
“When I got an email from the agency about this, I have removed these things.”
A spokesman for Visit England said: “I can confirm that the Chaplin’s Hotel, Albert Road, Blackpool, is not part of the Visit England assessed hotel scheme.”
A spokesman for Blackpool Council said: “We are aware of this issue which is being dealt with by the council’s Trading Standards team. We always look into any reports of concern wherever possible.”
Claire Smith from Stay Blackpool said the group was delighted the judge had found against the hotel and said it should act as a warning to others.
She said: “To achieve and maintain any form of accreditation takes a huge commitment to quality and a significant financial outgoing.
“When a property blatantly displays illegal signage either physically or online, it is at the very least misrepresentation but in fact fraud as prospective guests are being deliberately misled.
“There is no case for oversight. We are all accountable and must take responsibility for the signage we display.
“This is a huge win for all those quality accommodation providers in Blackpool that work extremely hard to provide the best facilities and the best experience they can so their guest’s go home having had a fabulous time in Blackpool.”
Mr Hampson said he was satisfied with the result and it would not put him off returning to Blackpool.
He said: “Things did not work out as expected, despite having limited expectations.
“The Chorlton Hotel was the saving grace of my visit, so much so I will be returning at the Chorlton this year with friends.
“I think I saw and ate everything available in Blackpool. I visited the spot my Grandfather had a snap taken on the Prom by the Tower and spent the morning in the Pleasure Beach riding the rides that were either new or I was too small to ride [back then].
“ I even took a piece of the [former wooden ride] Wild Mouse home with me which is displayed in my mini retro Blackpool themed dining corner.”