Maureen: Yes, you need booster seats. No, I can’t read minds

Maureen Hill is a regular columnist for Travel Weekly and works at Travel Angels, Gillingham, DorsetMy welcoming smile was ignored as a woman aggressively enquired: “Do we need booster seats in Europe?”.

I asked her name and said that I would check to see if they were requested when we booked her hire car.

“Oh I didn’t book it here. I just want to know, that’s all.”

“Considering that booster seats for children is an EU directive, I think you will find that the answer is yes,” I said.

“And what about transport from the airport to the hotel. Are there booster seats?” she persisted.

I explained that I didn’t know if it was by private transfer or coach as we had not booked her holiday.

“Well can you find out then?”

With hollow voice I told her that she would have to contact the people with whom she booked her holiday.

“Oh leave it then,” she snapped and stalked out of the office, leaving my stock of good will sorely depleted and in need of a booster.


Client complaints

I get the impression that some clients are in competition to see who can come up with the most outrageous reason for pain and suffering when seeking compensation.

A guest of one multiple complained that while staying at an African game lodge overlooking a waterhole he had spotted a ‘visibly aroused’ elephant and that the sight of the rampant beast had made him feel ‘inadequate’, and had subsequently ruined his honeymoon!

I’m surprised that he didn’t pack his trunk immediately.

One tour operator was blamed for a pregnancy as it had provided a double room instead of a twin for an engaged couple. The young lady concerned applied for compensation and said that she would not be pregnant if they had been provided with twin beds.

My favourite, however, is the woman who demanded total reimbursement of the holiday costs because topless sunbathers on the beach had meant her husband had spent all day looking at other women.

Admiring the sights takes on a whole new meaning.


Presents from the 1950s

One of the nicest things about this job is that clients often show their appreciation of my efforts on their behalf by presenting me with small gifts. I used to think that the items they chose reflected their view of me, and bottles of wine are always well received.

However, you can imagine my surprise when my ego was shattered in one week when I was presented with a pair of glamorous, black, gem-studded, elbow-length ‘Marigold’ rubber gloves by an old gent. I smiled gracefully but I wondered what he thought I would get up to with a bowl full of Fairy Liquid.

The second gift was a, still warm, freshly baked loaf and a jar of home-made apple and blackberry jam. I was about to thank the donator of this homely fare when he spoiled things by asking if I had false teeth. As my good humour drained I managed to answer in the negative.

“That’s alright then, it’s the pips, you see. I didn’t want you to get them under your dental plates if you had had them.”

Obviously, my domestic goddess image is not seen in the same light as Nigella Lawson.

Gone are the days of wine and roses, enter the era of rubber gloves and bread and jam.


Here’s a Wake up call

While the problems of British Airways remain unsettled it’s refreshing to know that out of 130 Kirker clients, whose itinerary included a BA flight, not a single client was cancelled and all of them accepted the alternatives offered.

A combination of travel agents and Kirker working together was a reminder to clients that they are not alone when they book with an agent.

Kirker sales director Ted Wake always samples what Kirker sells, so for half-term break Ted took his wife and the Wakelets to Istanbul. The Kirker local guide, Ozzi, made sure that they didn’t miss a thing, including a boat on the Bosphorus.

Ted’s daughters, Eliza and Mary, tested the spa facilities at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet in preparation for “shopping with daddy” but Ted’s 10-year-old-son George gave the spa a miss as he was terrified of the naked German ladies.

For Mrs Wake I hear that the high point of the trip was the romantic child-free dinner on an island in the Bosphorus, which Ted had asked Charlie the Kirker concierge to arrange, ‘just to remind her how lucky she was’ to be married to him. He was lucky it wasn’t a case of man overboard.

Maureen Hill works at Travel Angels in Gillingham, Dorset

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