Some­times things go wrong when we travel, but there are bet­ter ways to re­spond than silently seething and then venting in a bad on­line re­view when you get home. Here’s what to do the next time your hol­i­day doesn’t go to plan.


Tell some­one as soon as you no­tice the prob­lem. The staff may not even know there’s an is­sue that needs fix­ing and, once they do know, they have a bet­ter chance of rec­ti­fy­ing the sit­u­a­tion while you’re still there, rather than weeks later when you’re at home.


Af­ter a long jour­ney tem­pers can fray faster than nor­mal, but if you’re see­ing red the per­son you’re talk­ing to is less likely to see rea­son.

Mem­bers of staff and their man­agers will be more in­clined to help if you re­main friendly and un­der­stand their point of view too.

If you can’t get the so­lu­tion you’d like to the prob­lem, ask what else they might be able to do to help or what they would do if they were in your sit­u­a­tion.

Re­mem­ber, if things re­ally do es­ca­late and you end up in court it can work in your favour if you re­mained calm.

And be­fore you march to the front desk, pause and ask your­self if your com­plaint is rea­son­able. If your room is dirty or the pool is full of al­gae, march away. If your off-sea­son hol­i­day doesn’t look like the peak sea­son pho­tos, you have less of a leg to stand on.


If the prob­lem isn’t solved, start col­lect­ing your ev­i­dence for the next step. Take notes about the peo­ple you spoke to with dates, times and what was dis­cussed, take pho­tos or videos of the prob­lem and keep all your re­ceipts.

If there are wit­nesses, ask for their names and con­tact de­tails.

Be­fore com­plain­ing you should also check the notes on your book­ing and see what you re­ally agreed to when you clicked “yes” in the terms and con­di­tions box.

You wouldn’t be the first one to tick that box with­out ac­tu­ally read­ing the terms and con­di­tions, and might be sur­prised to find the com­pany had the right to do some­thing from the start that now seems un­fair.


If you’re still in the midst of the prob­lem, a sim­ple tweet may help speed a so­lu­tion along. Some com­pa­nies have cus­tomer sup­port teams mon­i­tor­ing Twit­ter and are keen to keep prob­lems off so­cial me­dia.

If you’re at home, you may now write that on­line re­view but you should also put a formal com­plaint in writ­ing to the com­pany.

In­clude the word “com­plaint” in the email head­ing or sub­ject line, set out the prob­lem clearly and con­cisely and in­clude copies of rel­e­vant re­ceipts and other doc­u­ments, mak­ing sure to keep the orig­i­nals.

Not sure what to write? The ACCC has com­plaint let­ter tem­plates to help guide you through the process. ACCC.GOV.AU/CON­SUMERS/COM­PLAINTS-PROB­LEMS/WRITEA-COM­PLAINT-LET­TER


If you’re not happy with your re­sponse, or didn’t get one at all, you can try le­gal ac­tion.

Your lo­cal com­mu­nity le­gal cen­tre or lawyer might be able to give you some ad­vice and some firms of­fer free ini­tial con­sul­ta­tions.

But this should only be a last re­sort. Not only can le­gal ac­tion be ex­pen­sive with no guar­an­tee the re­sult will go in your favour, you’ll need to show you did ev­ery­thing rea­son­able to re­solve the case be­fore you de­cided to have your day in court.

So take a breath and start off with that faceto-face dis­cus­sion when the prob­lem first arises, and hope­fully you’ll be hav­ing happy trav­els again in no time.

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