✉ I was refused my car at the Goldcar counter at Bologna airport, because the reservation was made in the name of Ed Humbert, and not Edward Humbert as my passport indicates. I had to recontact the broker, CarTrawler, who told me to rebook as Edward. I did and received a confirmation email. I was then told to wait for Goldcar head office to update the booking. After over two hours I called CarTrawler and was told that we were now too late to change the reservation as it was over five hours past the scheduled reservation time. We had to look for another rental car, but we only managed to find one vehicle from a total of ten operators and that was exorbitantly expensive. We’re £618 out of pocket. Can you help ?
The shortage of rental cars this summer is causing huge problems and it looks like drivers are being turned away for the slightest transgression. Goldcar has apologized but insists it was fair to decline your rental, saying that when documentation is provided to the office it must exactly match the name on the booking. He added that if you had booked directly, rather than through a broker, the change could have been made at the office. “It appears in this case that the client provided incorrect information to the broker, which means that our administrative team did not receive any instructions to modify the reservation,” a spokeswoman said. CarTrawler agreed that you failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the booking, but said they understood your frustration: “As such, and as a gesture of goodwill, we have provided the customer with a full refund of £206, their car rental costs.”
✉ My mother booked flights to Malaga for five people to join a family holiday in a villa (for nine people in total) in the summer of 2020. The villa had to be canceled due to Covid and she was persuaded by Jet2 to cancel flights and rebook one of their villas as part of a package. The trip had to be rescheduled again – we are now leaving this summer – but when my mum finally contacted Jet2 to discuss arrangements she was told that although the villa could accommodate ten people she would only be compensated for five people. because there are only five in the package she booked. Obviously she had to cancel, but asked to keep the original flights. We found another villa that could sleep 12, but my mum was charged £3,000 for the five flights. It appears that Jet2 canceled the original booking including flights and rebooked at August prices. The way my mother was treated and the stress it caused is shameful. What can we do?
Jet2 has been one of the best companies when it comes to refunds during the pandemic, but its customer service here was sorely lacking – expecting your mother to accept a villa with just five people was ridiculous. The company was unwilling to discuss the details of your complaint with me, but contacted them to apologize and offer a refund of £1,100 – the difference between the flight prices. A spokesperson said: ‘We are pleased to confirm that we have been in contact with Ms Park and the matter is now resolved. We look forward to welcoming Mrs. Park and her family on a sunny getaway with us in the future.”
The Northern Lights
✉ My mom and I flew to the Arctic Circle on a nighttime excursion to see the Northern Lights but it was pretty strenuous. My partner and I would love to take her on a real journey where we can watch them from the ground. I want to go away for a few nights, and we would need two rooms, flying in from Manchester or Liverpool. What can you suggest?
According to specialist tour operator Aurora Zone, this fall and winter should be a fantastic northern lights season as the sun approaches the peak of its 11-year cycle. Iceland is easily accessible from Manchester, and the three-night Aurora Zone break in Reykjavik combining natural spas, such as the new Sky Lagoon with Northern Lights hunts, should give you a good chance to see the magical green glow (of course, this is never guaranteed). It would cost £2,633 B&B for the three of you in two rooms at the Fron Hotel, including flights, transfers, activities and a dinner (theaurorazone.com). Another great base is Hotel Ranga in southwest Iceland. It is a 90 minute drive from Keflavik airport and is so remote that there is very little light pollution. It also has its own stargazing observatory and Northern Lights wake-up service. A three-night fly-fly package this winter starts at £1,631 B&B for the three of you, based on two rooms and a car (discover-the-world.com). Flights start at around £150 with easyJet (easyjet.com).
The epitome of the Cotswolds in Kingham
✉ We have a big birthday to celebrate next April and are looking for a hotel for four couples in the Cotswolds for two nights. We want great food and it doesn’t matter how big the hotel is: our B&B budget is around £150 a night. Is there a place you can recommend?
The Cotswolds are expensive and with your room budget you’ll be staying in a gastropub or restaurant with rooms rather than a hotel. But this is not a difficulty. If you’re happy to splurge on the celebratory dinner, head to the foodie town of Nailsworth where Wilder’s serves up superb and simple fine dining. A surprise eight-course tasting menu, including champagne and matching wines, costs £145pp. The same company runs the nearby Wild Garlic Rooms & Apartments; B&B doubles next April from £150 (wild-garlic.co.uk). Or try the Kingham Plow Gastro Pub in the typical honey-stone Cotswold village of Kingham, which has six country-chic rooms from £145 B&B. Eat here and you can expect a great seasonal modern British menu that’s heavy on wood-fired meat and fish (thekinghamplough.co.uk). For more fine dining, the glam Wild Rabbit pub, part of the Daylesford empire, is a few doors down (thewildrabbit.co.uk).
✉ My husband and I would like to drive across Europe, mainly to see wildflowers. Our trip would be in the Netherlands, France, Italy and possibly Switzerland, but I can’t find the updated travel rules for each country regarding Covid and Brexit. Can you recommend any websites or apps that contain this information?
Full details for each country can be found on the government website gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice, although this is not the easiest to read. For an overview of Covid rules and restrictions try berbe.net, and for advice on travel in Europe after Brexit abta.com has a good summary, including rules on driving and pets.
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