Journal: TWUKSection:
Title: Issue Date: 12/06/00
Author: Page Number: 3
Copyright: Other

Associations brand ‘one-sided’

Holidaymakers urged to follow traditional complaints system

ABTA and FTO slam ‘negative’ Web site


ABTA and the Federation of Tour Operators have attacked a new Web site, set up to air holidaymakers’ complaints against UK travel companies, as one-sided and unhelpful to consumers. wants to build up a database of complaints so that people can check it before they choose a holiday. Operators are being urged to register on the recently launched site and respond to their detractors on-line.

ABTA head of consumer affairs Keith Richards said: “We feel the information that is likely to be posted on the site will be of little assistance to holidaymakers because it is too one-sided.

“Although it invites tour operators to give their responses to any complaints, I doubt if any are likely to do so. It is like responding to a complaint in public. It is more effective to deal on a one-to-one basis with a complainant.

“The site allows people to vent their spleen. It may make them feel better but it won’t get a problem sorted out.”

Richards added that holidaymakers would find ABTA’s own complaints system more effective. has been given permission to include a link to ABTA’s own Web site, but Richards stressed that this did not represent an endorsement.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Tour Operators secretary-general Alan Flook said: “This site is going to be entirely negative. We have got to live with it but it’s unfortunate.

“What worried me about this is that a blame culture is developing in this country. People get compensation but the money has got to be recovered from somewhere and that means higher prices.” has been launched by a husband and wife team, Mike and Jenny McClement, and has received around 15 complaints to date. All messages are vetted for libellous statements and bad language before being posted on the site.

Mike McClement said: “This is an opportunity for people to air their views and have their say and give companies the opportunity to reply.”

He claimed that so far three tour operators had registered with the site – Thomas Cook Holidays, Page and Moy and Paris Travel Service – and he is confident more will want to participate.

The McClements hope to make the site pay by selling click-through advertising to travel affiliated companies.