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Caribbean con company clobbered in court

Waltham Forest Council’s Trading Standards Service flexed its muscles recently when a local resident was left high and dry by travel agents Flexi Holidays Ltd. after booking a holiday through them to Jamaica.



The resident complained to Trading Standards after parting with over £9,000 for a dream holiday for a family of five with Virgin Atlantic Airlines. The booking was made over the telephone with Flexi Holidays Limited of 86–90 Paul Street, London EC2 in March 2014. However, Flexi Holidays failed to transfer the monies and confirm the bookings with Virgin Atlantic Airlines.


On a number of occasions they told the consumer that the flights had been booked and the tickets would follow in due course. They even went as far as issuing a fake electronic flight ticket, but inadvertently used a phased out Virgin Atlantic Airways logo on the electronic ticket to give it an authentic appearance. To add insult to injury, Flexi Holidays shamelessly wished the consumer “an enjoyable holiday” in a covering letter accompanying the ticket!


Thankfully, the resident’s diligence caused her to query the validity of the ticket. The savvy consumer had also taken the precaution of paying using a credit card, which gave her a certain degree of protection and meant she could recoup a large portion of the monies paid out.


The case was heard on 10 April at Thames Magistrates’ Court in the absence of Company Director Karla James, who failed to attend. Flexi Holidays was found guilty on two counts under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, for engaging in an unfair commercial practice, and one count under the Trade Marks Act 1994. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £3,000, costs of £629 and a £120 victim’s surcharge.


“This company got exactly what it deserved and I commend our Trading Standards Service for seeing this matter through on behalf of the resident,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.


“At a time when this Council is doing everything it can to help small businesses create employment and opportunities in the borough it is all the more important to ensure rogue traders like this are held to account. Let this be a warning to any business looking to rip off the residents of Waltham Forest, we will not hesitate to put you in court to face the consequences of your actions.”


Holiday makers should check that their travel company holds an ATOL licence and/or belongs to a reputable travel association such as ABTA before paying. They also need to keep documents in a safe place in case things go wrong.


If things do go wrong, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 for advice and assistance on compensation. Waltham Forest Trading Standards can be contacted on 020 8496 3000 and via the Council’s website at www.walthamforest.gov.uk


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