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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69268
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I wonder if you think it would

Resolved Question:

I wonder if you think it would be worth my while to take Titan Tours to the small claims court. Our holiday (my husband and I)to visit the "The Awe Inspiring National Parks" (29/9/13 to the 15/10/13) went disastrously wrong when the US Government closed the parks. The US Government had done this before and it was muted before we left that it was a possibility. Titan very obviously had no back up plan. Prior to 'leaving Titan phoned everyone on the tour (31 people) to say the first park we were due to visit, Estes Park, was closed due to flooding but they had organized a visit round Budweiser Brewery instead. It turns pout they hadn't, Budweisers don't do visits on that particular day (Tuesday) so we wasted time at a micro brewery instead. The micro brewery tours were fully booked so we hung around until we were eventually given a free tasting and a short talk. A real waste of time. The US Government had now closed the parks. From Cheyanne we headed to Rapid City even though all the news and weather reports were full of warning about a huge amount of snow that was due in that area (why did we go?). They were forecasting 24". When we woke up in Rapid City there was 23" of snow. We got stuck there for 4 nights. The hotel had no lounge area and the bar was franchised and only opened in the evening and was extremely cold. We basically had to spend the time in our bedroom. I did ask the tour manager about being repatriated but she shrugged her shoulders and walked off. At the time I wasn't aware of my legal rights so assumed that it was not possible. At various times other members asked about repatriation but were offered no advice from the tour manager about how to proceed. When we could proceed with our journey we then spent the time catching up. We caught up on the 13/14th day. I have raised various points with Titan but they have never addressed these points. They admit I did ask about repatriation but that was in Rapid City when we were stuck in snow and I didn't ask again. They take an extremely long time to respond to our letters. I have asked why were we in an old bus. the windows often steamed up so we couldn't see out of them? Why did we go to Rapid City against all advice. Why did the tour manager not give me and others information about being repatriated? Why did they phone to tell us of the Budweiser visit? On our last day in Phoenix Titan suggested to the tour manager that we go to a shopping mall, the tour manager said she didn't like shopping, a fair few of us said we did like shopping but she decided against it, so we spent a large part of the last day hanging around the hotel until it was time to go to the airport. Why won't Titan answer my points. Out of the 12 parks we were supposed to visit we saw 2 and a very brief visit to a third. We had paid for a flight over the Grand Canyon, Titan gave everyone a free flight over the Canyon and refunded the cost we had paid for our flight. We paid £5830 (after the flight refund) this included 1 breakfast only. Titan have offered us £600 pp compensation and a voucher for £200pp against any further holidays with Titan. This is to include the unused entry fees to 10 parks. Titan say they cannot offer more compensation to us as other tour members have accepted this offer. I doubt if I would ever go on another Titan tour so the vouchers are worthless. After taking off the 2 x £600pp (£1200) it means we have paid £4630 to see two and a bit National Parks. Do you think their offer is fair and do you think I ought to try the small claims court. I'd hate to lose and be awarded their costs!! Yours sincerely XXXXX XXXXX

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

How much would you be willing to accept please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I would accept around £3000. They are quoting Force Majeure but no one ever discussed this with us on the tour.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I thought they would quote that which is that they are not responsible for the things beyond our reasonable control and they are not responsible for things beyond our reasonable control.
Exactly the same thing happened with the Icelandic volcanoes: it was beyond at the operator's reasonable control.
However that is an extremely good and extra ordinary example.
You say that US Government has done this before and there was a suspicion before you left that it was a possibility and having a backup plan is beyond our reasonable control particularly if they had notice that this was a possibility.
In addition, apart from having no backup plan they clearly either didn't arrange alternative things or did not arrange it properly.
With regard to the snow they can rely on force majeure because they do not have control of the weather.
However if they are in an area which is susceptible to such adverse weather it is not unreasonable for them to provide reasonable facilities which it appears that they did not which is why you had to spend most of your time in your bedroom.
There is case law which says that you must have complained at the time and you must have complained within 10 days of returning.
The name of the case escapes me however the reason behind it is that this is so serious you will have complained straightaway.
Assuming that you got back and did that I think you have a reasonable claim to take to the Small Claims Court.
The fact that the holiday company and had acceptances from all the other holidaymakers (who decided not to pursue this so vigourously) is not material to your claim.
I agree with you that the £200 against further holidays is really worthless.
It appears that you paid £2915 per person. They have offered you £600 (ignoring the voucher) and you say that you would accept £1500 each x2, which means that the trip would have cost you £2830
I think that your request is probably a little high and I think their offer is low. I think you could reasonably accept £1000-1200 each x2
My suggestion would be to write to them marking the letter "without prejudice save as to costs" telling them that you would accept the sum of £1800 per person and see what they come back with.
You have a claim for loss of opportunity and loss of enjoyment and it comes down to how much the court accepts their defence of Force Majeure and whether the closures were foreseeable. They are beyond their reasonable control but alternative arrangements are not particularly in view of the fact that they seem to have had notice that closure was a possibility.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69268
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your advice, I will write to Titan again in the manner you describe. Not sure I have the guts to go to the small claims court, too frightened of being awarded their costs if I lose.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Costs are very low in the small claims court.

No problem. All the best.

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