Sumary of Which? reveals the best and worst UK holiday cottage firms:
- Holiday cottage giants – owned by private equity firms – have been named the worst in Britain following a deluge of complaints over refunds and prices.Sykes and Hoseasons, which have been the focus of criticism during the pandemic, placed bottom in a consumer survey carried out by Which?.Both have been at the centre of action by the Competition &
- survey went to Rural Retreats (image from website above) Hoseasons (image from its website left) and Sykes (right)have been the focus of criticism during the pandemicAt the same time, customers have used social media to criticise the firms for imposing punishing increases in prices at a time families were effectively banned from taking foreign holidays.Which?
- surveyed more than 2,400 members to assess their experience with the major holiday cottage providers in terms of customer service, value for money and the quality of the accommodation.
- Additionally, of those who did manage to go ahead with their Sykes booking, some still complained about poor experiences, with one in 10 saying they were dissatisfied with their stay.’Despite being one of the cheapest providers, the company only received three stars for value for money, and three stars for customer service.
- Pictured is one of its holiday lets’While some customers spoke of positive experiences, one recent customer reported that their cottage was invaded by flies, another described their experience with an “aggressive owner” and said their accommodation was “not fit for purpose”, while a third said “the Sykes website was inaccurate in about five respects”.’Which?
- added: ‘Hoseasons fared better in terms of handling cancellations, with a refund satisfaction score of 71 per cent among those who had a booking cancelled by the company.’In the main survey though, it still only managed to muster three stars in most categories, including customer service, value for money, and quality of cottages among those whose holidays went ahead.’Sykes was bought by the private equity Virtuvian Partners for a reported £375million in 2019 and it is also part-owned by a second private equity firm, Livingbridge.
- It has grown rapidly over the past five years and now controls 24 brands and businesses, including Pure Cottages Group and Carbis Bay Holidays.Hoseasons is part of the Awaze group, which is owned by another private equity giant – Platinum Equity.Last year, the CMA took action against Sykes and Hoseasons following thousands of complaints they had been refusing to provide full cash refunds to all customers whose holidays could not go ahead.Which?
- warned Britons planning to book holidays in the UK that they should seek out firms with a good track record on service and refunds.