Anyone who has ever met me can attest to my exceptionally laid back nature but there are some things that I feel cannot be ignored and it just so happens that one of your Thomson Holidays has become a prime example for me; bad customer service.
After a difficult year my partner and I thought it was time for a break. We walked into our local Thomson Holidays store and booked an all inclusive platinum resort in Bulgaria, complete with ocean view, 24hr doctor and multiple hotel restaurants; a place highly recommended by the staff for its plethora of activities, local bars and restaurants as well as the wonderful views. This was key for us as we like to “do stuff” on holiday rather than sit by the pool and relax.
8 weeks later and we finally land at the Burgas Airport in Bulgaria around 11pm. Excited to start our holiday we quickly collect our bags and bundle over to your Thomson Holidays representative at the airport. Here is where the debacle starts as she ticks off our name and points us towards a hastily knocked up information point where bus details were being given out. Worry began to set in as a number of passengers are told that their bus hasn't arrived but we were one of the “lucky ones”. Our bus was here but your representative for our hotel wasn't. We were told to carry on towards the bus and at that time of night we quickly obliged.
Our bus set off towards the hotel, your rep still nowhere to be seen.
Arriving at the hotel two hours later, still “rep-free”, we quickly checked in under the cloak of darkness and went to bed without exploring the hotel eager to end our 7 hour journey.
Waking up the next day we opened our curtains to our “ocean view” to be greeted with a fabulous view of the kids club roof. Not the idylic scenery we had hoped for…
Our morning briefing with your Thomson Holidays rep was short and sweet. He gave us our excursion brochures, told us where he was for booking and disappeared as quickly as he arrived.
Exploring the town of Obzor, it turned out that the promises of a fun and exciting resort were largely a lie. We were upset to find that the numerous bars and restaurants we we sold in your store turned out to be a town of kebab shops and crappy seaside shops touting extensive arrays of fridge magnets and other naff holiday based paraphernalia. After about 20 minutes, we had “completed” the town. This was going to be a long holiday…
We took the opportunity wherever possible to go on excursions, one of which was a trip to the city of Varna. The day was largely uneventful but was a good example of the awkward lack of professionalism that seemed to set the trend for the holiday. Your TUI tour guide took us to a local cathedral where after a short talk about the architecture proceeded to usher us into the pews to watch the christening of a local child; something the family made no attempt to hide their contempt as large portions of them were forced to stand at the back due to our encroachment. This was very unprofessional but the fact that your tour guide left the group to do her weekly food shop in the local market kind of took the biscuit.
Despite this the week went by pretty quickly, the hotel staff were friendly and the other holiday makers from multiple locations around Europe were mixing in the entertainment hall - made possible by the excellent bar staff. But on Friday the week took (even more of) a turn for the worst.
While our hotel was all-inclusive, there were no snacks to be had. No problem we thought; we’ll head up to the town for some chocolate and crisps. Upon returning I managed to trip on a crack in the road and fall — I fell hard! Hitting my face on the ground caused not just an immediate flow of blood to burst forth but also for 3 of my teeth to be snapped clean out of my jaw. The pain was incredible.
Luckily my (terrified) girlfriend was on hand to help me back to the hotel where we staggered through reception down towards the medical room. Your 24 hour doctor, in an astonishing bout of irony, wasn't there. We moved towards your rep’s office to see if there was a local clinic but once again we were found wanting. Your Thomson Holidays rep was as absent as he had been all week.
Moving back up to reception the desk was no longer manned and no-one was in sight. With our impromptu dressing and some painkillers, I was put to bed.
From this point the holiday was largely a write-off as I was unable to eat, drink (without the assistance of a straw) and certainly wasn’t in the right condition to be making the most of the pool. Again your doctor proved difficult to locate but we did manage to find your rep before we left…as our coach for our airport transfer pulled up to the hotel. I even managed to bite my lip while he asked about the “damaged face” that had happened under his watch some 4 days earlier.
This level of neglect would have been enough to annoy even the most placid of travellers but he was not content with his current level of incompetence. Upon embarking the bus, we were told that your rep would not be making the journey to the airport with us; instead we were left in the hands of a local bus driver who spoke Bulgarian but zero English.
Just 20 minutes later, this became an issue after one of the passengers had been taken ill and needed some air. With no Thomson Holidays representative on board the poor driver had to deal with this alone; doing what he could but was largely useless to assist.
When I booked with Thomson Holidays I was doing so out of loyalty. We had been away with them before and had a great time but we were clearly wrong in our initial assessment given that the level of service was useful as a chocolate teapot.
We paid but did not receive access to a 24 hour doctor, a Thomson Holidays representative, our lovely sea view and if we’re honest a decent and much deserved holiday — not bad for almost £1700 eh?