Dear Boho Villas / Owners Direct
This is a copy of a complaint letter sent to Boho Ibiza Villas the agent and Owners Direct in September 2012. To date no response has been received from either party.
Phone correspondence meant Owners Direct said they had no responsibility and could not even contact the owner. No use or comfort in using them at all. Go through a reputable travel agent!!!
Complaint detail below:
We have now had a chance to reflect on our appalling stay at Villa Harmonia and having sought legal advice we are following up in writing in the hope that we can resolve the problems and inconveniences we experienced without having to go into legal proceedings.
Firstly we are deeply disappointed that since our return the £800 security deposit paid on 31st July 2012 into Katie Hall's personal UK Rotherham bank has not been refunded. Please ensure that this is actioned within the next 5 days otherwise we will be forced to take legal action regarding this.
As you are aware we were in regular correspondence with you prior to our arrival in the early hours of 5th August and at every request be it by phone or email to both myself and my husband we were assured that Boho Villas were an established and reputable travel management company. Your website (www.bohoibizavillas.com) boasts management of 10 luxury villas and your emails stating that your portfolio contains 6 managed villas on the island, of which Harmonia is one of them. Your credentials purport over 15 years travel industry experience. All of these facts were the reasons we were assured of the validity and reassurance of the property as to who we were dealing with and why we continued to book this holiday through yourselves. We advised both verbally, via email and our completed booking form as requested, that our party of 8 consisted of a family, including elderly grandparents in their 80's and teenage children and we were not a group of clubbers looking for a crash pad or a stag/hen do party. We were extremely concerned that everything went smoothly with this holiday given the fragility of the elderly guests travelling out to Ibiza.
In the week prior to our arrival we were sent the wrong welcome pack magazine which gave details and directions to a different villa, Bohemia. Only when we queried this did we then receive the correct welcome pack on villa Harmonia (30th July 2012). All contact details given to us in the emails received 30th July stated a management team at Boho Ibiza Villas, which consisted of 4 names Katie, Caroline, Jutta and Nadia with telephone numbers for both Katie and Caroline.
We were met at the villa in the early hours by Kate, who apparently is your PA. Unfortunately she had no knowledge whatsoever of the villa, its facilities and how to operate any of the domestic appliances. Obviously in August the weather is extremely hot and after travelling we expected to be able to relax into one of your "luxury best picked properties", detailed as a "luxury", "beautiful" and a "magical" villa and a "truly amazing sight to behold". This was certainly a truly amazing sight to behold, but unfortunately for all the opposite reasons to "luxury", "beautiful" and "magical"!! It was immediately apparent that there was no hot water or air-conditioning, as well as no instructions for the operation of any of the domestic appliances ie, cooker; generator system; or airconditioning unit. There was no welcome pack / manual folder in the property whatsoever. When we asked how to get these appliances working we were advised by your representative Kate, who had a complete lack of knowledge either purposefully, or as a result of no training or background information, that she did not know how things worked or where things were, as she was just your PA. This has become a very popular phrase repeated throughout the week by Kate. When asked if there was a BBQ she said she wasn't sure. Every other question was met by a suitably vague, non-committal response. Due to the lateness of our arrival and the fact that the outside lights were limited as your representative did not know where all the light switches were, we agreed verbally that she would send somebody out first thing on the Sunday morning to rectify the air-conditioning and lack of hot water problem. It was extremely obvious that Kate's only desire was to get away from the villa as quickly as possible to go out for the evening with her boyfriend who was waiting in a vehicle for her and who never offered to assist in anyway.
We foolishly continued, in good faith, to hand across in cash the requested balance payment of €1,650 and accepted the keys. Upon our further walk into the rest of the stifling hot villa we found each and every room to be tired, worn out, old damaged furniture and old, worn dirty bedlinen on the beds. Where you state that the villa is a "distinct bohemian feel" and "The decor is rustic and bohemian with Spanish antiques mixed with modern furnishings" and again purport that "All the rooms have been lovingly professionally interior designed" I can only drop my mouth in astonishment. Whilst we have an appreciation for antiques there is a significant difference between tat and quality antiques which would sell for some value - I can only say that nothing in that villa would have any value even collectively. Modern furnishings, I can only imagine that we are talking the difference between civilisations in history as nothing in that villa was modern and if the explanation of having tables and chairs of some description equates to modern then maybe you are correct in this phrasing. There was not even an electric kettle! Before retiring to bed, we attempted to have showers in order to try and cool down, however not only with the lack of hot water 2 showers out of the 3 bathrooms did not work at all.
On the Sunday morning a local Spanish handy man arrived who did not speak any english, which made it difficult to discuss usage of any of the appliances or instructions on how to operate. He managed to turn on the generator which allowed us hot water and to get the air-conditioning working in each of the bedrooms and main living room. This is something we would have expected our holiday representative to have had working for our arrival. It transpired though that in one of the bedrooms the unit was not safe to use as it was pouring water out of the electrical console. This was discovered after a full suitcase on the floor in the corner of the room below and its contents had been completely soaked. We had to put large saucepans underneath the unit to collect the water and kept emptying this every few hours. The problems with the 2 showers not working seemed to be left that the handyman would return the following day (Monday) and replace shower heads and fix the dishwasher, which we also found to not be working properly. Once the handyman had left, we also then found that we did not have sufficient and usable cutlery, cups, plates for us all to be able to eat at the same time. When sitting at the kitchen table one of the old "antique" kitchen chairs literally fell apart and I sustained bruising to both my legs where the broken side struts on the chairs had cut into them. I am not exactly heavy (around 9st) and all I was relieved about was that neither of our elderly guests had suffered this experience as with irregular heart beats the shock and pain would have been enough to ensure we would have had to find a local hospital.
At this point we called Katie the owner of Boho Villas. Following several voice messages left for Katie we finally had a call back. Having updated Katie on the problems that we had encountered since our arrival, she seemed somewhat bemused and certainly gave the impression that she didnt feel any of the problems were a real issue and we were advised repeatedly that nobody else had complained! We explained that we felt the villa had been mis-represented in the particulars and a good example of this is that one of the pictures in the welcome magazine on Villa Harmonia (3rd picture down) is simply not taken from the villa in question and shows a beach view through a trellis edged balcony - total mis-representation and illegal. After further pressure Katie agreed to replace the crockery and bedlinen and bring these to us the following day (Monday). We were advised that there was nothing more that she could do other than this gesture as there were no alternative villas available that she knew of on the island.
On Monday, we got up early in anticipation of the handymans return and waited until lunchtime. He did not appear. We also did not hear back from Katie, whom we'd expected to see or at least hear from with an update. We left the villa early afternoon and returned around 6pm expecting to find that items had been replaced and fixed as requested as promised. Upon our return we found nobody had been all day and nothing had been resolved with the dishwasher, faulty air-conditioing unit, showers, kitchen chair, kitchen utensils/crockery, and bedlinen still in the same state. We were appauled and upset that nobody was taking our concerns seriously and reacting accordingly. There was no communication whatsoever. There was also a complete lack of urgency to respond or resolve anything and our 7 day holiday was reducing without us being able to actually have any sort of a holiday. At this point, we regathered our belongings and vacated the villa having locked up securely and turned everything off as necessary. Luckily we had received a return call that afternoon from a reputable travel operator back in the UK who had managed to find a cancellation villa that was available on the island. We left the villa and called to secure the booking of this alternative villa, Casa Mar for an additional cost of £1,695. We had deeply hoped that this would be avoidable if Boho Villas had responded as promised to fix the appliances and replace crockery / bedlinen, however since our conversation with Katie, over 30 hours+ previous we had received zero communication or contact.
We waited for a further 24 hours (evening of Tuesday 7th) expecting an update from Katie. Having still heard nothing, at 20.21 on 7.8.12 we sent a message to Katie as below:
"Katie, very disappointed as we haven't heard from you or received anything you promised. This reflects extremely badly on both you, your business and the owner. You have miss represented the villa and services you were going to provide. Extremely upset and disappointed and won't be treated this way. We expect compensation for having our holiday ruined. Justin"
We had a response back from Katie late on Tuesday night to this message:
"Hi Justin I have bought you all new crockery and a kettle. I have also bought new sheets for you, they are getting washed at the laundry as we speak as they are pretty stiff if you do not wash them. Housekeepers will be up in the morning to sort for you. Thanks Katie."
The lack of communication and update to our requests at arrival to Kate and our phone call on Sunday morning to Katie is in our opinion totally unacceptable. We had at this point effectively spent over half of our 7 day holiday waiting for Boho Villas to resolve sub-standard, mis-represented holiday accommodation.
On Wednesday 8.8.12 at 11.09 we advised Katie the following:
"Katie, hadn't heard anything from you. Only have a week. Couldn't afford to mess around any longer and therefore left on Monday having found another villa that is up to standard and does meet our expectations! Need to discuss refund with you as have occurred additional costs due to misrepresentation of villa and lack of any urgency in sorting matters out. Justin ps. have retained the keys for security reasons."
Since this message was sent we have had no response from Katie to date in any way shape or form. Radio silence is not an acceptable response and reflects extremely badly on any individual or company, especially one representing customer service!!
We sent further messages as follows:
8.8.12 @ 16.23
"When do you want to meet to sort this out?"
8.8.12 @ 19.33
"Katie, please have the courtesy to reply to me please. Thank you Justin"
Calls were made to both telephone numbers for Katie and Caroline as detailed in the emails sent to us before we arrived in Ibiza and we left numerous voice messages for somebody to call us back.
"Hi. Please can you call me urgently. Thanks Jo"
I finally had a response to my message above not from Katie but from Kate on the number advised for Caroline.
9.8.12 @ 12.59
"Hi there i have just missed received your message. I have a migraine so am not able to answer the phone right now. Is there something you want me to pass onto Katie?"
Whilst I have the greatest sympathy for any migraine sufferer having suffered myself with this ailment since I was a teenager I was a little surprised that anyone with a migraine, which impairs your vision, was able to concentrate to construct a text message and send this but not take a phone call. It did feel more and more as though we were just being fobbed off by Boho Villas. I would also not expect someone who was ill to have to be responding to clients as there should be someone else in the business who could cover for sickness / holidays of other employees.
Kate did then call me but she expressed that she was ill and hence the whole conversation was undertaken in whispers. I updated Kate on what had happened and advised that we were really disappointed Katie had gone radio silent. I was advised that Katie had lost her phone on Monday. Again, this seemed extremely odd given we had received communication back from Katie on Tuesday night!?! I asked Kate to reconfirm when Katie had lost her phone in case this was a mistake but was assured it was definitely Monday, which again doesn't seem plausible. It also is not acceptable for any individual in this 'modern' day and age with technology to a) not get a replacement phone and b) operate a business where the owner is uncontactable. I also asked where Caroline was as the number Kate was contacting me on was advised as Caroline's. At this point I was informed Caroline no longer worked for the business. I did ask who else was employed by Boho Villas as if Katie had lost her phone and Kate was unwell there should still be other team members Jutta / Nadia etc who could help resolve our situation. I was advised that the only person working at Boho Villas was Katie and Kate was just her PA. Kate repeatedly stated that she was just Katie's PA and couldn't help with anything. This is a deeply distressing scenario for a supposedly reputable business to have an owner who is not contactable by any means, person, phone or email and to have a PA, the face of any business, who knows nothing about the business, the clients or the properties they manage and retail to clients. At this point I was more than starting to question the authenticity of this business. I asked who it was that had the 15 years travel industry experience if there was only Katie and Kate working at Boho Villas. The response from Kate was "I don't know what it matters". I did remind her that this would mean that they were breaching their legal requirements by fabricating their business credentials and that it was extremely important as it was based on these credentials and facts that people like ourselves agree to make contractual agreements and book holidays with them, but if these facts are not true then that is legal mis-representation.
I was asked why we had not left the keys in the villa and confirmed that we would not wish for anything untoward to have happened if we had been this careless and for security reasons we had retained the keys. I asked if Katie could come and meet us to collect the keys and discuss resolving the situation without this becoming a much bigger issue, ie compensation of the costs we incurred on having to move villas. I was advised that Katie could not come to meet us as she did not have a car and that Kate had this and that there was no way we could contact Katie. The call was left that we needed to meet to return the keys and that Kate would try to contact Katie somehow and get her to make contact with us.
I followed up our conversation with a message to Kate:
9.8.12 @ 19.38
"Hi. Please can you confirm back by 10am tomorrow who will be coming to collect the keys and what time? Also, can you let me know in advance where we stand on the refund and ask Katie to contact me.Thanks. Jo"
No response was received.
10.8.12 @ 10.04
"Hi. Ive not heard back from you or Katie. Please can you get Katie to call me before midday latest and can you advise what time you or Katie will be able to collect the keys and pass on our refund. This needs to happen today. Thanks Jo"
At this point I called the telephone number for Owners Direct in the UK to try and track down 'James - the Account Manager' who was detailed as BohoVillas main contact and who was in regular contact with them. Given the experience we were suffering I was unsurprised that they had regular contact from Owners Direct as I cannot believe that we are the only clientele who have received such poor service and been disappointed and raised the concerns on mis-representation and mis-selling holiday property. I spoke with a lady at Owners Direct, called Katie. This was becoming increasingly complicated with everyone being Katie, Kate or Katie, however I was advised the channels to complain to and that Owners Direct would liase directly with the actual owner rather than Boho Villas to resolve our complaints and concerns. It was Owners Direct who then contacted Boho Villas to get hold of someone to arrange for them to contact us and collect the keys. I had a call back from Katie at Owners Direct to advise that Kate would be in touch shortly and to confirm that our complaint needed to be put in writing.
Shortly afterwards we had the call from Kate and a meeting point of Crystal Beach Bar in Playa d'en Bossa was agreed for 20 minutes time. We then had to drive down from the villa to this location point, once again disrupting yet more of our final day of holiday. Upon arrival Justin met with Kate and the keys were handed over, however when he re-iterated our treatment by Boho Villas he received the now familiar phrase "I'm just Kate's PA". When it was pointed out that surely a PA carries a degree of responsibility, he was once again subjected to continued bland responses, one of which was "I'm just a fashion designer!".
We are beyond exasperated with the extremely dire communications and handling of all of our raised concerns. We tried hard to work with Boho Villas to come to a mutual agreement that resolved some of the issues and to deal with our own disappointments during the 7 day trauma in Ibiza. However the complete lack of responses and non-action on rectifying the problems with malfunctioning equipment and sub-standard bedlinen, of which there is no excuse for things not to be clean even if they are old and tired.
Finally, one of the most upsetting points is that this is without doubt the last time Justin's elderly parents will not only join us on a family holiday, but will be their last holiday abroad and it was meant to be a pleasant, relaxing and extremely memorable week, instead it turned into the worst week abroad we have ever experienced and resulted in un-necessary heartache, disappointments and upheavals as well as additional cost to us for having to relocate. We spent the whole week trying to resolve matters and could not relax. Whilst we tried to be reasonable and ask for the cash final payment element to be refunded of €1,650 to cover the additional sterling payment of the villa we moved to, we now feel that this gesture would be unacceptable and that a full refund is required to compensate for everything that was mis-represented, mis-sold and the time and effort still having to be undertaken in seeking legal advice and writing these lengthy complaint letters to capture and document everything concisely.
We expect a response by no later than 5pm on Tuesday 28th August 2012, otherwise we will have no option but to engage our lawyer to take these matters to the next stage and seek full compensation, damages and costs.
NO RESPONSE EVER RECEIVED EVEN TO LAWYERS LETTERS. BEWARE!!!
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