Couple win coach compensation battle

Richard and Diana Dickinson
Richard and Diana Dickinson
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A pensioner was celebrating today after a travel firm backtracked on its refusal to refund their holiday – which he cancelled when his wife lost her sight.

Richard Dickinson, 70, from South Shore, booked a £982 coach trip to Torquay as a special Christmas treat for his wife, Diana.

But the couple were forced to cancel their holiday when Mrs Dickinson, 70, was diagnosed with macular degeneration and lost the sight in her left eye just a month before they were due to set off.

They had £498 taken out of their payment as a ‘cancellation charge’ by coach company Shearings Holidays.

Shearings offered £200 complimentary vouchers too on top of that but refused to repay the difference.

But after being contacted by The Gazette, Shearings agreed and said they would refund the entire £982 charge, but in the form of vouchers.

Retired chiropodist Mr Dickinson thanked The Gazette and said: “Thank-you very much for what you’ve done for us.

“It just shows what the power of the press can do.

“We’ll probably be ready to go away when we get Diana right.

“It’s a shame we had to go through all of this to get our money back.

“It’s not the money back but vouchers to the full amount so we will accept that gladly.”

Mr Dickinson had previously told how medics at Blackpool Vic had told his wife she needed long-term treatment after she woke up one morning unable to see out of her left eye.

He said: “When I cancelled they told me on the phone that there would be a charge and I said it was fine. You expect some sort of administration fee – but not nearly £500. It’s not an amount to sneeze at.

Mrs Dickinson, who also worked as a chiropodist, had to undergo a series of ‘traumatic’ injections into her eye in an attempt to restore her sight.

She said she was shocked at the amount Shearings had charged them, despite the company’s trading charter stating that up to 50 per cent of the cost or deposit paid by the customer would be taken as a cancellation charge should they cancel their booking three to seven weeks in advance.

She said: “I’ve got to have injections once a month for three months. It’s traumatic and very painful for hours afterwards. I just have to go straight to bed.

“I said there’s no way I could go away like this. I was very upset that we had to cancel because we were really looking forward to going away and the weather in Torquay is beautiful. I felt so depressed. I’ve put Richard through hell and high water.

“I have had to give up driving and going to keep-fit classes. I’ve had to put my life on hold.”

The couple were initially offered £200 in Shearings Holiday vouchers by the company, but Mr Dickinson said it could not make up for the money they thought they had lost.

He said: “When I worked as a chiropodist and I had a patient booked in and they then couldn’t make it because they were unwell, I wouldn’t charge them for it even if I could. It’s just a matter of good customer service. If one holiday company does it, it makes other companies look bad too.”

A spokesman for Shearings said: “We were very sorry to hear of the circumstances leading to Mr and Mrs Dickinson’s cancellation and provided a partial refund, as well as offered £200 complimentary vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.”

She added the firm was now happy to refund the full amount in vouchers.