An irate Hays Travel customer was left with just $28 spending money in New York – after arriving in the Big Apple and discovering that his pre-booked hotel “hadn’t been paid for.”
Michael Hulme had booked the £1,168 package through the company’s Newcastle branch for the four day break to the Gallivant Times Square hotel with his partner Kerry Barlow.
But the 59-year-old was left stunned when he arrived in the Big Apple and the hotel staff told him his room had not been paid for.
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The $800 bill was then debited from Michael’s bank account after he used his card to pay a $100 bond. He only had $28 on his card to spend on sightseeing.
The grandfather of five says that after contacting Hays Travel, he was told he would receive a refund within 28 days.
But it meant he couldn’t afford to pay for attractions — like Top of The Rock — and was forced to ask family to lend him some money.
Abbey Hulton’s security guard said: “The trip was a surprise for my partner and a once-in-a-lifetime break as it was somewhere she had always wanted to go.
“I paid for the package holiday in monthly installments and it was all paid in March 2021. But when we got to the hotel, they said our room was not paid.
“I told them I would call the travel agency the next day and I paid a $100 deposit for the room.
“When we got up the next day and went to do some shopping, my card kept getting declined and I couldn’t understand why.
“When we got back to the hotel and checked the banking app, it said the hotel had taken $800 from us.
“I went to the reception and they said they took the money to pay for the room. They said not to worry and they would refund the money if the travel agency paid.
“I contacted Hays Travel and they said it looks like the holiday had been canceled and re-booked. But as far as I’m concerned it was paid. If it was cancelled, why were we told we could still go on holiday?
“I think it was canceled and rebooked due to Covid. But the travel agency said they would look into it and see what was going on.
“At 4pm the front desk called us. They said the travel agency forwarded the payment and I was refunded – but it can take up to 28 days.
“We were only there for four days and couldn’t wait 28 days, that was our pocket money for attractions. I only had $28 left on my card. Luckily I had $400 in cash to use for food.”
Michael says he had panic attacks after realizing they only had $28 left for sightseeing and tourist attractions. He had to ask his partner’s brother for money so that the couple could continue to enjoy the trip.
He received the refund after arriving home but says the break was ruined by money worries and he feels let down by Hays Travel.
Michael, who suffers from depression, said: “I had panic attacks, I suffer from a little bit of depression and my anxiety started.
“You go all the way there and don’t expect any problems, but we were stuck in this situation and my partner was in tears.
“I was really in trouble, I didn’t know what to do. I called the travel agency and they said sorry and asked if there were any friends or relatives who could help us.
“I can’t help but ask my kids for money. You’re talking about £300 or more and I know they don’t have that kind of money.
“We contacted my partner’s brother and he sent us $400 so we could do the different things we wanted to do in New York.
“We were still missing half of the attractions we wanted to do because we couldn’t afford it.
“I spoke to the travel agents when we got back because I was still smoking.
“Someone needs to be held accountable for what happened to us. I will not be using Hays Travel anymore.
“It was very stressful and I don’t want anyone else to go through the same thing. It just ruined the holiday.”
Hays Travel has apologized to Michael and handed the couple £100 as a ‘goodwill gesture’. It says it was not aware of the problem until Michael called them from New York.
A spokesperson said: “We are very sorry to hear of the confusion regarding Mr Hulme’s hotel arrangements. We have made sure that he would receive a full refund plus compensation as soon as possible.”
Hays Travel blames the hotel for the ‘mistake’.
But the hotel says the reservation was canceled on March 22 last year.
The Gallivant Times Square hotel said: “This reservation was canceled on March 22, 2021 by a third-party website.”
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