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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I booked a cottage in Coldstream which can accommodate 5

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I booked a cottage in Coldstream which can accommodate 5 people months ago. Terms were non-refundable; however, nowhere in terms and conditions on the site I used did it state that the booking was non-transferable or that I had to actually be one of the guests. The full amount has already been taken from my account. I didn't input guest names although I mentioned in special requests that I, my daughter and possibly my husband was coming to accompany my 10 year old to swim camp at Millfield School (my mistake, as actually over 7 hours away).
The booking is for the long August / September bank holiday, which should easily be rebookable with 6 weeks to go. There was no good will to change the stay to another weekend, less popular, there was no compromise, no goodwill. Fair enough: my mistake - I got the location wrong.
However, the owner will not allow me to send my brother and sister-in-law instead, as she considers that non-refundable means non-transferable or that this would be a modification. She will not let anyone stay there as part of what was effectively a group booking for which I was the only listed guest by name unless I am part of the party as well. Effectively, she wouldn't even let my husband stay with the children without me (for example, in case I got sick and stayed behind).
Thank you for your help!!!
Here are the terms and conditions:;sid=2e9f680241f1e4d48e206fefa58c3c1f;dcid=1
Here is the confirmation:
Reservation confirmed — Congratulations Severa! You've booked a holiday home!
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Paperless confirmation
Little Bethel Holiday Cottage ***** , Coldstream, TD12 4DH, United Kingdom - Show directions
Connect with your host! Find out where to pick up your keys, what time to check in or make special requests. They're just a phone call away: +441890883642 . You can also send them an email.
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Your reservation 4 nights, 1 house
Check-in Friday 26 August 2016 (16:00 - 22:00) To ensure a smooth check in, make sure to add your arrival time
Add your check-in time
Check-out Tuesday 30 August 2016 (10:00 - 10:30)
Cottage (5 Adults) £740
Total price £740
Best Price Guaranteed
Pre-authorisation: To check the validity of your credit card and guarantee your booking, the property reserves the right to temporarily hold an amount prior to arrival.
Please note: additional supplements (e.g. extra bed) are not added to this total.
The total price shown is the amount you will pay to the property. does not charge any reservation, administration or other fees.
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Accommodation details
Cottage has 2 double bedrooms and 1 single bedroom, and can accommodate 5 adults.
Guest name Severa von Wentzel Edit guest name
Number of guests max. 4 people. Edit number of guests
Meal Plan There is no meal option with this room.
The total price of the reservation may be charged anytime after booking.
Cancellation policy
Please note, if cancelled, modified or in case of no-show, the total price of the reservation will be charged.
Any cancellation or modification fees are determined by the property. You will pay any additional costs to the property.
Cancellation cost
From now on: £740
This reservation can not be cancelled free of charge.
Special Requests
You have a booker that prefers communication by email
please let us know - if possible and known to you - of any pony camp or other activities for my 7 year old. my 10 year old will be at millfied swim camp all day every day, but my daughter is too young for this. i think my husband will join us for the weekend only. thank you!
You have now confirmed and guaranteed your reservation by credit card.
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This accommodation provider accepts the following forms of payment:
American Express, Visa, Euro/Mastercard, Maestro, Solo, Switch, Bankcard
Booking conditions
Guest parking Free public parking is possible at a location nearby (reservation is not needed).
Internet WiFi is available in all areas and is free of charge.
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I wish the owner good luck with this.

They would be entitled to keep the deposit if you did show but they are most unlikely to be able to refuse for other people to go in your place. It may be different if it was a completely unrelated family who he had not taken up any references regarding or suchlike but for such close relatives he is just not going to get away with it in my opinion. Suppose the argument say you were taken ill the day before the trip? According to the owner, then no one will be able to go!

Accommodation is excluded from the cancellation provisions under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

You should write to the landlord or email if that’s how you’ve been communicating saying that unless he agrees for the replacement relatives to go, you will have no alternative but to cancel the whole thing, and then take him to the Small Claims Court for the total cost of what you paid plus of course the court costs. If he still doesn’t agree for the replacement party, then if you small claims court proceedings and let the court decide.

Please rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

If you don’t rate me, I don’t get paid. It doesn’t cost you anything but helps me greatly.

We can still exchange emails if you wish.

Best wishes. FES.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Goo morning. Many thanks for our quick answer. Could you give a bit more insight / clarify a few points, so that I understand the next step and can give you a positive review please?
1) If I have already have paid the full amount for the full stay, what is the advantage to me of cancelling the booking? This is an advantage to the hardlined owner who will be able to double her income by re-letting it. It also deprives me of being able to give a review letting others know that she considers anything beyond the terms and conditions and not outlined in the booking process and confirmation at her discretion.
2) You mention that accommodation is excluded from the act. Can you explain what that means please?
3) If I take her to small claims court, what are ballpark costs, how much preparation is there, and is it physically close to her (extra time and costs)?
The owner has stated that she will not allow entry unless I am present.
If you consider that I have a very strong case and if I feel that further steps are worth taking, could we work out the next step in more detail after the review and for extra payment? I made a mistake, but the owner is going too far. I need to be sure before we proceed that this is also a legal position I can take. Have you reviewed the terms and contract I sent?
Thank you

The moral here, is that before you book anything at all, look at the cancellation provisions.

If you cancel the booking completely, you have much less chance of getting your deposit back even though I accept what you say that as this is a very popular location, he would have a very little problem in reletting. If he doesn’t relet, and there are no cancellation provisions in the contract other than to say (as it does) you lose everything, then you would be liable for the cost of the booking less cleaning costs et cetera. They would not be able to enforce the full value because you haven’t used the service!

You are responsible for the owner’s loss of profit not the actual cost of the booking because there has been nowhere and tear and no necessity to clean it afterwards.

If he sues you in the Small Claims Court for the extra cost, he is a private individual and so you and hence, the proceedings will be transferred to your local court which may not be particularly convenient for him.

The owner is correct that anything beyond the terms and conditions not outlined in the booking process are at her discretion but nonetheless, do have to be reasonable.

Under the Consumer Rights Act and the previous Distance Selling Regulations you had a statutory right to cancel within formally 7 days and under the later legislation now, 14 days but that doesn’t apply to accommodation. You are probably past that timescale for cancelling anyway.

If you take her to the Small Claims Court to get your deposit back, there is a good chance(subject to what I’m going to say in the following paragraph) that you would not succeed and it would be transferred to the owners local court because you are both private individuals. It would be different if the owner was a company in business of letting out this kind of accommodation in which case, you could ask for it to remain in your home court.

The owner not allowing entry unless you are present is completely unreasonable and it’s unlikely that if as a result of her saying that, you did not go, purely because you were unable, it’s likely that your claim to get the deposit back succeed.

I agree with you, you did make a mistake but the owner is being completely unreasonable in insisting that you attend personally. As I said in my previous reply, suppose you were ill? It might be worthwhile asking the question.

There is nothing in the terms and conditions which assists hinders you except to say that clause 6 says that you are bound by the the accommodation owners cancellation conditions it says that the cancellation/no-show policy is shown on the accommodation owners page of this website and also on the confirmation email. However, as you are aware, there is nothing on the cancellation other than to say that if cancelled modified or in the case of no-show, the total price of the reservation will be charged.

Personally, if the owner is being so obstructive, I would make sure that I had it in writing that no one else can go unless you are present, and then, I would let the matter go to the Small Claims Court.

You might want to wait until the owner sues you for the balance because then you will be defendant and it will be in your home court and then counterclaim for the deposit. That’s what I would do.

One afterthought, this provision whereby the full Contract cost is payable even if you cancelled it 12 months previously, and even if the property gets relet, is probably void under the Unfair Terms in Consumer regulations because quite clearly it is unfair and hence unenforceable.

I’m happy to assist completing any documents that you may ultimately need which I’m happy to submit is a premium service for which there is an extra cost, whenever you wish. Kind regards

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