boat house, cottage, waters
Photo by FrankWinkler on Pixabay

 

Success stories

I’ve received lots of messages from people confirming that they have now received either a partial, or full refund. This is great news, and thank you to those who have sent me such lovely messages (a few examples below), I really appreciate it.

tweet thanks1

We had been getting nowhere with Sykes, only receiving their automated emails telling us to re book. We have never managed to get through to anyone there. Then we sent the owner your letter.

We have now finally got the full refund we thought we would never see. Sykes only refunded 70% keeping the rest as credit for us as a goodwill gesture, and the owner directly refunded the other 30% although understandably he wasn’t too happy about it. We hope he gets it back from Sykes.

As NHS doctors, we are clapping for you as a legal superhero to thank you for your generous (and successful) efforts in standing up to Sykes and helping so many customers currently being exploited by them at this very difficult time. I posted a review on Trust pilot to give people hope they too will get their money back…but I’m sure that will be taken off soon.

Thank you for taking this company to task. Without your help we wouldn’t have got anywhere.

tweet thank 2

Property owners

I’ve also been contacted by a number of the property owners who receive bookings via Sykes. The general message has been:

  • They do not want to get sued;
  • They do want to refund their customers and do ‘the right thing’; and
  • Sykes has refused to reimburse the commission they have been paid (typically circa 24% of the booking amount), meaning they will refund the customer the booking fee less this amount.

I of course sympathise with the property owners. They did not cause the Covic-19 pandemic and have played no part in Sykes’ handling of refunds. They too will also be out of pocket and hit very hard financially. In this respect, I would plead, on their part, with you to consider if it is feasible to re-arrange the date rather than cancel and claim a refund.

For those who cannot entertain a new travel date, you are entitled to a FULL refund. In this regard, there seems to be a misconception amongst property owners that as they have paid the commission to Sykes, it is Sykes who is responsible for refunding this to the customer. This is not correct. The chain of events needs to be i) the property owner refunds the customer IN FULL and then ii) claims the commission back from Sykes (probably less Sykes’ reasonable expenses).

 

Common responses from Sykes/property owners and next steps

Those who have not yet received a refund appear to fall into one of the following categories:

No response received

If you haven’t sent my Template 1 letter yet, now’s the time to do so. Sykes Holiday Cottages: Template letters If you have sent a Template 1 letter, and you have not received a response after at least 7 working days, send Template 3 (shown at the end of this blog).

If you still get no response it will unfortunately be time to take your matter to the small claims court. If you have to do this, it is important that the court forms are prepared properly and your case particularised sufficiently. In this respect, I would advise that you visit www.consumerlawclaims.co.uk

Partial refund received

Many people have told me that Sykes’ commission has been deducted from their refund. As I have explained above: i) you are entitled to a FULL refund; and ii) the property owner must refund all your monies and then claim the commission back from Sykes.

Anyone in this situation needs to send Template 2 to the property owner, which you can find here: Sykes Holiday Cottages: Template letters

NOTE: The money you paid will have been divided into two: i) booking fee – this is what you paid to Sykes for it to facilitate your booking; and ii) rental fee – this is the fee for the rental of the property, paid to the property owner.

Sykes has already provided its service for the booking fee. It deals with this at clause 10.3.1 of its terms (below)

sykes booking fee term I am in agreement with this clause and it is therefore my opinion that a ‘credit’ of the booking fee amount will be the best you will achieve. However, the commission paid to Sykes is entirely different, as consumers have no legal obligation to pay this (it is a contractual matter between Sykes and the property owner), so property owners should not be withholding these amounts from refunds.

“You’re not entitled to a refund as you cancelled the holiday”

RUBBISH.  This response is not supported by the law. If you’ve received this response and have not yet used my Template 1, send it now. Sykes Holiday Cottages: Template letters

If you received this response in reply to Template 1, send Template 4 (shown at the end of this blog).

If the property owner still refuses to refund you, it will unfortunately be time to take your matter to the small claims court. If you have to do this, it is important that the court forms are prepared properly and your case particularised sufficiently. In this respect, I would advise that you visit www.consumerlawclaims.co.uk

“You’re not entitled to a refund as there are no restrictions on the date of your booking”

I previously advised that if your booking is for a date post-June, you should do nothing yet. The position is therefore far more unclear, legally, as technically the property owner can still provide the accommodation and you can still travel. However, if the lockdown is further extended into the period of your booking, the legal position will become clear, and you will be entitled to a refund. Notwithstanding this, I would still ask for your refund now.

The proeprty owner says he/she has sent your refund to Sykes, but you have not received it

Firstly, in Sykes’ defence, we are in the middle of a pandemic and it is clearly receiving a significant volume of communications. We therefore need to accept that it may take longer than usual to process refunds. I would therefore give Sykes at least 14 days to process your refund before taking any further steps.

If you do not receive your refund from Sykes within this time, use Template 5 below.

TEMPLATES

Template 3 – when no response received to request for refund

To: The owner of the property known as
[insert property name]
c/o: Sykes Cottages Limited

and

Sykes Cottages Limited

[insert date]

By email only: press@sykescottages.co.uk

Dear Sirs
Holiday booked for [insert date] at [insert property name] (“the Booking”)

I write further to my letter before action dated [insert date], to which I have not received a response.

If I do not receive a satisfactory response by [insert date 7 days from date of letter] I will have no choice but to issue legal proceedings in the small claims court. In this respect,  I will draw the court’s attention to your failure to observe the pre-action protocols under the Civil Procedure Rules.

In the event that it transpires that Sykes Cottages Limited (as agent) failed to pass my letter before action to the property owner, I will join it as a party to the legal proceedings.

I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

———————————————————————————————————————————

Template 4a – if the response came from Sykes

To: The owner of the property known as
[insert property name]
c/o: Sykes Cottages Limited
and
Sykes Cottages Limited

[insert date]

By email only: press@sykescottages.co.uk

Dear Sirs
Holiday booked for [insert date] at [insert property name] (“the Booking”)

I write further to your response to my letter before action dated [insert date], and note your refusal to provide a refund. Please can you confirm i) that you have requested a refund from the property owner and that ii) the property owner has instructed you (as agent) to reject my claim. 

In any event, I note that you have failed to provide sufficient detail of the legal grounds the property owner relies upon. In this respect, I will draw the court’s attention to the failure to observe the pre-action protocols under the Civil Procedure Rules.

I will give the property owner further time, until [insert date 7 days from the date of the letter], to reconsider their position, following which I will have no choice but to issue legal proceedings in the small claims court.
I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Template 4b – when the property owner rejects direct

To: The owner of the property known as
[insert property name]
c/o: Sykes Cottages Limited
and
Sykes Cottages Limited

[insert date]

By email only: press@sykescottages.co.uk

Dear Sirs
Holiday booked for [insert date] at [insert property name] (“the Booking”)

I write further to your response to my letter before action dated [insert date], and note your refusal to provide a refund.

I further note that you have failed to provide sufficient detail of the legal grounds relied upon. In this respect, I will draw the court’s attention to your failure to observe the pre-action protocols under the Civil Procedure Rules.

Having taken advice from one of the leading consumer lawyers in the UK, I am confident that my claim will be successful in the court. I suggest that you too take urgent legal advice and in this respect I will give you until [insert date 7 days from the date of the letter] to reconsider your position, following which I will have no choice but to issue legal proceedings in the small claims court.

I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

————————————————————————————————————————————-

Template 5 – where refund paid to Sykes but they haven’t sent it to you

To: The owner of the property known as
[insert property name]
c/o: Sykes Cottages Limited
and
Sykes Cottages Limited

[insert date]

By email only: press@sykescottages.co.uk

Dear Sirs
Holiday booked for [insert date] at [insert property name] (“the Booking”)

I write further to your response to my letter before action dated [insert date], following which I have been informed that the property owner agreed to my refund, and that they sent the refund to you (for forward transmission to me) on [insert date].

Despite the above, I have not received my refund from you, and nor have I received any communication from you in this regard.

If I do not receive your written confirmation that the refund will be processed, or receive the refund itself, by [insert date 7 days from the date of letter] I will have no alternative other than to issue legal proceedings against both Sykes and the property owner.

I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

Copy of Your Consumer Claim (3)