Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours . . . but next door’s air-con units get Kim hot and bothered.

There are times in my job when it’s not just about selling holidays and managing staff, but also looking after the property and surroundings.

Not so long ago, the busy coffee shop next door changed hands. We know the girls who work there but, wanting to be friendly, we introduced ourselves to the new owners. A few weeks later the owner came in and asked if he could put an air-conditioning unit on the wall at the back of our property (there is a small yard that is fenced off with a locked gate). I said I would have to check with the owner of our building, so asked if I could have the exact dimensions. He said he would let me know.

Weeks passed and I heard nothing. Then one morning while I was in the brochure room I could hear someone outside. As I opened the door, I came face to face with three huge air-conditioning units fixed to our outside wall. I was astounded! Each one was the size of a desk, with huge fans blowing air into our small space. I went round to see our new neighbour, who I’ll call Mr N, to ask what was going on, and tried to explain to him that he didn’t have permission to do this. He thought I was being very unreasonable and would not listen.

I contacted my boss and sent him pictures. He got in touch with the property owners and confirmed that the units would have to be removed.

Time went on and Mr N was still being very unreasonable and started sending me threatening emails. Keeping my dignity at all times, I replied politely but firmly that the units would have to be removed as soon as possible. He was not happy.

Hot air

In hot summers, we’ve always liked to use the secluded yard to have our lunches and sunbathe – but this was not possible with the fans on full power as the space is limited.

One particular day, when the weather was glorious, I was feeling fed up with the situation so decided to switch the units off (all the controls were on the wall in our yard). I sat there eating my lunch, with my skirt tucked up revealing my legs and enjoying the rays. So I was a little shocked when a face appeared over the fence asking me what I was doing (he is only a little chap, so must have been standing on a box). Quickly adjusting myself, I replied. He was very rude and said I was to switch the units back on immediately! I politely said I would as soon as we had all had our lunches, which I thought was reasonable. He said he was going to report me. “To who?”, I replied. He was not pleasant and said he would call the police…really? What a joke!

We’ve now managed to get the units removed. But to this day, I can’t understand what possessed him to think he could get away with it.

As an independent agency, we have enough on our plates without petty disputes. But the lesson to take from this is that, just like when you’re selling holidays, you should stick to what you know is right.


TV show proves the worth of indy agents

I was happy to see an ITV programme champion the role of travel agents recently. On Holidays: All-Inclusives Uncovered?, reporter Hayley Hassall went online to search for the best deal she could find – with the cost of the same holiday on Jet2holidays, Thomas Cook and On the Beach ranging from £3,677 to £4,369.

Then Hayley rang a local independent agent, something “she hasn’t done for years”. They were able to offer it for £3,560. It just goes to show the value of travel agents against the internet, and goes against the perception that we are always more expensive. If you haven’t seen the programme, it’s worth watching.