Episode 3 Rip Off Britain


Episode 3

The team investigate viewers' holiday problems. As the latest holiday scams are revealed in this edition there's advice to make sure you don't get caught out the same way.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Episode 3. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

We asked you who's left you feeling ripped off

0:00:020:00:04

when it comes to your holidays,

0:00:040:00:05

and you came back with a catalogue of travel disasters.

0:00:050:00:09

It was a nightmare. That particular day was a nightmare.

0:00:090:00:13

First impressions when we walked in was what have we booked?

0:00:130:00:16

What have we paid for? It was disgusting.

0:00:160:00:20

So whether it's a deliberate rip-off, a simple mistake or indeed

0:00:200:00:24

a catch in the small print, we'll find out why you are out of pocket

0:00:240:00:28

and what you can do about it.

0:00:280:00:30

Your stories. Your money.

0:00:300:00:32

This is Rip Off Britain.

0:00:320:00:35

Hello, and welcome to a sunny edition of Rip Off Britain.

0:00:360:00:40

We've come to the island of Lanzarote

0:00:400:00:42

and we're here to investigate even more of the problems with holidays

0:00:420:00:45

and travel about which you've been telling us.

0:00:450:00:48

And all of the people whose stories we're going to be featuring today

0:00:480:00:51

have the very same thing in common -

0:00:510:00:53

every of them has been tricked out of their money, handing it over

0:00:530:00:57

for something that, in most cases, just didn't exist.

0:00:570:01:00

However, it's fair to say that only became clear far too late,

0:01:000:01:04

by which point they were left not only without the holiday

0:01:040:01:07

they'd been planning but seriously out of pocket as well.

0:01:070:01:10

And what's more, the stress of trying to resolve some of these

0:01:100:01:13

situations has been pretty horrendous not least because,

0:01:130:01:16

as you'll see, several of them were a lot more complicated

0:01:160:01:20

and indeed expensive than your average trip away.

0:01:200:01:22

And, of course, what makes it particularly interesting

0:01:220:01:25

is that a good few of these scams unfolded in situations likely to be

0:01:250:01:29

very similar to how you may book your next holiday.

0:01:290:01:33

So, if you're starting to dream of that sunshine break -

0:01:330:01:36

and let's face it, who isn't at this time of year? -

0:01:360:01:38

then we've got plenty of advice

0:01:380:01:40

to help stop you ending up out of pocket.

0:01:400:01:44

Coming up, a Mexican villa that didn't even exist -

0:01:450:01:48

so why was it advertised on one of the best-known websites

0:01:480:01:51

in the accommodation-booking business?

0:01:510:01:53

We were angry, frustrated, you know, we looked for reassurance

0:01:530:01:57

and they gave it to us, telling us it will all be OK and it wasn't.

0:01:570:02:00

It was horrific.

0:02:000:02:02

And the company accused of tricking people into signing up for a holiday

0:02:020:02:06

deal unlikely to turn out how it was promised.

0:02:060:02:08

I just feel total scammed by them and I think what we feel is

0:02:080:02:13

something we would have used, we really can't use at all.

0:02:130:02:18

Now, while many holidays booked in the UK are still organised

0:02:200:02:23

through big tour operators, there are plenty of trips abroad

0:02:230:02:26

that you're more likely to need to sort out yourself.

0:02:260:02:29

Take, for example, a hen party, which, because of such a big group

0:02:290:02:33

travelling together, can't always be organised as a package deal.

0:02:330:02:36

Instead, chances are that everyone might be staying, for example,

0:02:360:02:40

in a large villa, so whoever has the joy of arranging it all

0:02:400:02:43

will need to either liaise directly with the owner

0:02:430:02:46

or use one of the booking sites that advertise villas to rent

0:02:460:02:49

right across the world. But we've heard from dozens of hen party

0:02:490:02:52

revellers who, despite doing both those things,

0:02:520:02:55

still came a very costly cropper indeed.

0:02:550:02:58

They used one of the best known booking sites to book their

0:02:580:03:00

accommodation and they spoke to the owner,

0:03:000:03:03

so how did they end up handing over thousands of pounds for villas

0:03:030:03:07

they never even got to stay in?

0:03:070:03:09

-ALL:

-Cheers!

0:03:110:03:12

With so many hen parties now taking place in the sun...

0:03:120:03:15

Oh, you look lovely, Nicky.

0:03:150:03:17

..organising everything is a much bigger challenge

0:03:170:03:19

than simply arranging a night out for a few friends.

0:03:190:03:22

CHEERING

0:03:220:03:25

So when Mel Allen was asked to be maid of honour by her best friend,

0:03:250:03:28

Nicky Kerr, she knew that sorting out the hen party was going to be

0:03:280:03:32

a big part of her role.

0:03:320:03:33

We sat down one evening and said,

0:03:330:03:35

"It'd be great if we went somewhere really special,"

0:03:350:03:38

being a bit more mature ladies and we'd have a bit of fun

0:03:380:03:41

and so we decided we'd like to go to Marbella in Spain.

0:03:410:03:44

And the first priority was finding a villa big enough

0:03:440:03:47

to fit all 21 of them.

0:03:470:03:50

Mel searched online and soon found plenty of options

0:03:500:03:53

on the villa-booking website OwnersDirect.

0:03:530:03:57

We were so excited and choosing one with a big pool, three hot tubs

0:03:570:04:02

and it seemed to be everything that we really wanted

0:04:020:04:04

for our weekend away.

0:04:040:04:05

OwnersDirect host ads for thousands of private villas all over the world.

0:04:050:04:10

When you find one you like the look of, you contact the owner directly

0:04:100:04:14

to find out more, and then you make your booking.

0:04:140:04:16

So when Mel came across a villa that ticked all their boxes,

0:04:160:04:20

she did just that.

0:04:200:04:22

I made contact with the owners, which were called Rainbow Villas,

0:04:220:04:27

and looked just what we were looking for and the lady was so friendly

0:04:270:04:31

and it seemed like it was going to be the perfect weekend

0:04:310:04:34

that we were looking for.

0:04:340:04:36

The owner of Marbella-based company Rainbow Villas - not to be confused

0:04:360:04:39

with companies with similar names - used the name Michelle

0:04:390:04:43

and told Mel that included in the price was a drinks reception

0:04:430:04:46

on arrival and a fully-stocked drinks bar for them to use

0:04:460:04:49

during their stay.

0:04:490:04:51

The whole package sounded amazing, so we all got together and said,

0:04:510:04:54

"Yes, let's book this and pay the 25% deposit."

0:04:540:04:58

A long weekend in the villa would cost the hens around £4,000

0:04:580:05:02

which they could pay in instalments.

0:05:020:05:04

But they were also told they'd need to pay by bank transfer -

0:05:040:05:07

something that made Mel a little bit nervous.

0:05:070:05:10

I asked if I could use a credit card

0:05:100:05:12

but was told there wasn't that facility.

0:05:120:05:14

So I went back onto the OwnersDirect website and it said

0:05:140:05:18

clearly on there, "It is secure to use by bank transfer

0:05:180:05:23

"but we advise you make contact with the villa owner,"

0:05:230:05:26

which I had already done but I did just give OwnersDirect a little ring

0:05:260:05:30

to just check that out and was told, yes,

0:05:300:05:33

if I've made contact with them it was fine to go ahead and do that.

0:05:330:05:36

So, reassured that it would be OK,

0:05:360:05:38

Mel collected the money from all 20 other hens and paid Rainbow Villas

0:05:380:05:43

in three instalments, the last one being just eight weeks

0:05:430:05:46

before they were due to fly to Spain, in June 2015.

0:05:460:05:50

It was very exciting, it was going to be a fabulous weekend,

0:05:500:05:54

and one that Nicky would remember.

0:05:540:05:56

Meanwhile, in Sheffield, Olivia Parsisson and her hens

0:05:580:06:02

were looking forward to their long weekend in Marbella,

0:06:020:06:04

in another of Rainbow Villas' properties.

0:06:040:06:07

We'd booked what was supposed to be a millionaire's mansion

0:06:100:06:14

for the three nights,

0:06:140:06:16

paid £5,750 for it.

0:06:160:06:18

It had a hot tub, Jacuzzi, saunas, bang in the middle of Marbella.

0:06:180:06:23

It were going to be me last holiday, me last real girls' holiday.

0:06:230:06:26

Just as Mel had, Olivia contacted Rainbow Villas directly.

0:06:260:06:31

She too got on really well with the owner and she also agreed to pay

0:06:310:06:35

the cost - £5,750 - in four instalments, by bank transfer.

0:06:350:06:41

Everything seemed legitimate.

0:06:410:06:43

There was nothing to make me think otherwise.

0:06:430:06:45

She'd let us have the villa for a little bit longer

0:06:450:06:47

due to flight times when we were leaving.

0:06:470:06:50

Just thought she was lovely, really.

0:06:500:06:53

But just three weeks before their departure dates,

0:06:530:06:55

Mel and Olivia both received an e-mail from Rainbow Villas.

0:06:550:06:59

It was just saying, "Do not travel. We have ceased trading.

0:06:590:07:03

"Find alternative accommodation."

0:07:030:07:05

So you can imagine I was absolutely devastated.

0:07:050:07:07

Just said, "Don't travel to Marbella as there will be nowhere to stay."

0:07:070:07:12

I just burst into tears.

0:07:120:07:14

Mel and Olivia both e-mailed back

0:07:140:07:17

asking whether they would be refunded.

0:07:170:07:19

But Rainbow Villas didn't reply.

0:07:190:07:21

With only a week and a half to go, Mel turned to OwnersDirect for help.

0:07:210:07:26

I asked them if they could help us find somewhere else

0:07:260:07:29

cos my immediate reaction was, "What am I going to do?

0:07:290:07:32

"I'm going to ruin my friend's hen weekend which..."

0:07:320:07:35

And nowhere for these ladies to go that had all got the flights booked.

0:07:350:07:39

But they said they couldn't help us with that, either.

0:07:390:07:42

After getting a similar response, Olivia looked online to see

0:07:420:07:46

if there was anyone else in the same situation.

0:07:460:07:49

And she very quickly stumbled across a Facebook group

0:07:490:07:53

full of stories that sounded just like hers.

0:07:530:07:55

Worse still, there were other parties that had booked into the same villa

0:07:570:08:01

on exactly the same dates.

0:08:010:08:03

I couldn't believe it. The weekend that me and my hens were booked

0:08:040:08:07

there was another hen party and another stag do.

0:08:070:08:10

So that were just one weekend,

0:08:100:08:11

so in one weekend that would have been...close to £20,000.

0:08:110:08:15

Mel and Olivia both realised that,

0:08:150:08:17

in all probability, they'd been scammed.

0:08:170:08:20

And with their travel insurance policies either not covering fraud

0:08:200:08:24

or situations where companies cease trading,

0:08:240:08:26

they had little chance of getting their money back.

0:08:260:08:29

Both now faced having to tell their friends what had happened.

0:08:290:08:32

I rang Nicky and said, "I've got some devastating news for you,

0:08:320:08:36

"but this villa we've been looking forward to for weeks and weeks

0:08:360:08:40

"and planning sitting by that pool and in the hot tubs and whatever...

0:08:400:08:44

"it doesn't exist."

0:08:440:08:45

Both groups did ultimately have their big parties in Marbella,

0:08:450:08:50

booking and shelling out for completely different accommodation.

0:08:500:08:53

But between them they lost almost £10,000 to Rainbow Villas.

0:08:530:08:57

And we've spoken to four other groups of hens who were duped

0:08:570:09:00

in exactly the same way - and who also paid out thousands.

0:09:000:09:05

Although investigations are ongoing, police in the UK and in Spain

0:09:050:09:09

believe Michelle at Rainbow Villas was taking identical bookings

0:09:090:09:13

for up to eight villas in and around Marbella.

0:09:130:09:16

Unfortunately, all the parties we've spoken to who lost money

0:09:160:09:19

to Rainbow Villas paid via bank transfer and as a result,

0:09:190:09:22

I'm afraid they stand very little chance of ever seeing

0:09:220:09:25

all of their money again.

0:09:250:09:27

In 2015, we featured the case of a family who were scammed the same way

0:09:270:09:32

after paying by bank transfer for a villa

0:09:320:09:35

they'd found on the OwnersDirect site.

0:09:350:09:38

At the time, the company told us it had introduced

0:09:380:09:41

a new online payments system which would refund up to £10,000

0:09:410:09:44

lost in fraudulent bookings.

0:09:440:09:46

But that doesn't apply to all villas and only applies if owners

0:09:460:09:50

have paid extra to offer it, which a scammer is unlikely to do.

0:09:500:09:54

So we asked OwnersDirect whether, to protect customers, it would consider

0:09:540:09:58

making that scheme mandatory for all its advertisers.

0:09:580:10:01

And OwnersDirect responded with some very good news indeed,

0:10:010:10:06

telling us that by the end of 2016, all its bookings

0:10:060:10:09

will be made through a secure, online system on its website.

0:10:090:10:13

Which means the future customers will automatically

0:10:130:10:16

have their bookings protected.

0:10:160:10:18

Sadly, that doesn't help Mel and Olivia, although OwnersDirect

0:10:180:10:21

did tell us that under the site's Free Basic Rental Guarantee

0:10:210:10:25

each group may be able to get up to £700 back to split between them.

0:10:250:10:30

The company went on to stress that customers who don't book online

0:10:300:10:34

should pay by credit card where possible,

0:10:340:10:36

also suggesting insurance is available for added protection.

0:10:360:10:41

But it apologised to anyone who had booked with Rainbow Villas

0:10:410:10:44

through the OwnersDirect site,

0:10:440:10:46

saying that this was "an extremely rare situation,

0:10:460:10:49

"where a previously legitimate owner acted dishonestly."

0:10:490:10:52

The company said that, following its own investigation,

0:10:520:10:55

it had removed these listings, and offered some financial help

0:10:550:10:58

to holiday-makers who did not have travel insurance.

0:10:580:11:02

We also contacted Michelle at Rainbow Villas

0:11:020:11:04

but as yet we haven't had a response.

0:11:040:11:07

And while our hens did still enjoy the replacement trips they were able

0:11:070:11:11

to book, the gloss was very much taken off by what had happened.

0:11:110:11:16

It's not just about money.

0:11:170:11:20

It's the cost of emotional and stress that it causes to everybody,

0:11:200:11:24

and there isn't a price on that, actually.

0:11:240:11:27

Now, while you might be just a bit sceptical about any offer you get

0:11:310:11:35

on the telephone from a company that you've really never heard of,

0:11:350:11:39

the chances are that you're going to be much more likely to consider it

0:11:390:11:42

if it comes from a name you know or trust.

0:11:420:11:46

So, when several Rip off Britain viewers were contacted by what

0:11:460:11:50

appeared to be a business with which they were already familiar,

0:11:500:11:54

they just didn't think twice about signing up to what sounded like

0:11:540:11:57

a fantastic deal.

0:11:570:11:59

Unfortunately, however, things were not what they'd seemed.

0:11:590:12:02

And not only did it turn out that they'd given their money

0:12:020:12:05

to a company about which they knew absolutely nothing,

0:12:050:12:09

but they weren't going to get what they'd been promised, either.

0:12:090:12:12

For Vanessa and Maurice Roeves, summer means two things -

0:12:180:12:22

a holiday in the sun and, as they're doing now,

0:12:220:12:25

taking in the Festival in their home city of Edinburgh.

0:12:250:12:29

APPLAUSE

0:12:290:12:33

How did he do that?

0:12:330:12:35

But when Vanessa received an unexpected call

0:12:350:12:38

from someone claiming to be from a time-share company,

0:12:380:12:41

it seemed the caller had some tricks of their own up their sleeve.

0:12:410:12:46

Vanessa distinctly remembers the caller saying she was calling

0:12:470:12:50

on behalf of Diamond Resorts -

0:12:500:12:52

a well-known holiday club the couple had been members of since 2001.

0:12:520:12:57

We trust them, the quality of the holidays,

0:12:570:13:00

we've never had to complain about a holiday.

0:13:000:13:03

Vanessa listened to the details of an offer that sounded very appealing -

0:13:030:13:08

three weeks accommodation in any of the company's worldwide resorts,

0:13:080:13:12

for just £395 for the pair of them.

0:13:120:13:15

We were looking at going to the Far East

0:13:170:13:19

and we had a conversation about whether that might be a good way

0:13:190:13:22

of going to Vietnam, Cambodia - the places we wanted to visit.

0:13:220:13:27

Already tempted, when the rep called back later that day,

0:13:270:13:30

adding an extra week's accommodation to the offer for no extra cost,

0:13:300:13:34

the couple eagerly snapped it up.

0:13:340:13:37

It didn't come across as unusual.

0:13:370:13:39

So I agreed and I paid by credit card.

0:13:390:13:44

It seemed the offer didn't have to be used straight away.

0:13:440:13:48

In the meantime, the couple had already booked a break

0:13:480:13:51

at a Diamond Resorts holiday club in Tenerife.

0:13:510:13:54

And it was only when they were out there, talking to the manager,

0:13:540:13:57

that Vanessa and Maurice started to have doubts about the amazing deal

0:13:570:14:01

to which they'd signed up.

0:14:010:14:03

He expressed surprise and said,

0:14:030:14:06

"Oh, well, normally we're told what offers are out there,

0:14:060:14:09

"don't recall that one."

0:14:090:14:11

And that's the first time I got a warning bell.

0:14:110:14:13

After the couple arrived home, they received their paperwork.

0:14:130:14:17

And though the deal did apparently exist,

0:14:170:14:20

none of the documents mentioned Diamond Resorts at all.

0:14:200:14:23

In fact, the holiday was actually with Resort Management Direct -

0:14:230:14:28

a company Vanessa insists she'd never heard of.

0:14:280:14:31

So she immediately rang them to find out what was going on.

0:14:310:14:35

I got somebody who told me that absolutely no way had the words

0:14:360:14:41

"Diamond Resorts" ever been used,

0:14:410:14:44

that I must have misheard.

0:14:440:14:46

Vanessa is adamant that the original caller had told her

0:14:460:14:49

she was from Diamond Resorts.

0:14:490:14:51

But not only did Resort Management Direct deny this,

0:14:510:14:54

it also now told Vanessa that it didn't even have any resorts

0:14:540:14:57

in the places to which the couple had hoped to travel.

0:14:570:15:00

I by then had checked on their web page and there was no USA resorts,

0:15:000:15:06

Canadian, nothing in Cambodia, nothing, in fact, in all of...

0:15:060:15:10

-Not in Vietnam.

-No. Nowhere that we had wanted to go.

0:15:100:15:13

Worse still, it now transpired that the offer that Vanessa claims

0:15:130:15:17

she'd been told had no deadline, did, in fact, have an expiry date.

0:15:170:15:23

Whereas I'd been told it was no time limit

0:15:230:15:26

suddenly it was a three-year time limit.

0:15:260:15:28

The couple immediately asked Resort Management Direct for a refund

0:15:280:15:32

of the £395 they'd paid.

0:15:320:15:34

But the company refused,

0:15:340:15:37

saying they still had plenty of time to book four weeks

0:15:370:15:40

in any of its resorts.

0:15:400:15:43

However, all of those resorts are in places Vanessa and Maurice say

0:15:430:15:46

they'd never have wanted to visit.

0:15:460:15:49

I just feel total scammed by them and I think what we feel is

0:15:490:15:54

something we would have used, we really can't use at all.

0:15:540:15:58

We've spoken to others who say either they or someone in their family

0:15:580:16:02

has also felt unhappy after being talked into signing up a deal

0:16:020:16:06

with Resort Management Direct.

0:16:060:16:08

85-year old Eileen Nuttall from Leicestershire paid more than £600

0:16:090:16:14

for five weeks of accommodation in the UK and Europe

0:16:140:16:17

after the company cold called her.

0:16:170:16:20

But as Eileen isn't fit to travel, her daughter is very suspicious

0:16:200:16:23

as to how exactly her mother was persuaded to sign up.

0:16:230:16:26

101-year-old Pat Slade from Chessington paid £199 over the phone

0:16:290:16:33

to a caller from Resort Management Direct.

0:16:330:16:36

Pat says they claim to be from the time-share company

0:16:360:16:39

that she'd been a customer of for 25 years.

0:16:390:16:41

And Carol and Adrian Wilson from Harrogate

0:16:430:16:46

say when they were cold called it was again the mention of Diamond Resorts

0:16:460:16:50

that made the deal sound more plausible.

0:16:500:16:53

I received a call out of the blue from a person who was offering us

0:16:530:16:59

two weeks at a choice of venues in the UK and in Europe

0:16:590:17:04

for up to six people for the sum of £200.

0:17:040:17:08

Adrian was suspicious that it was too good to be true.

0:17:080:17:12

But a month later there was another call, with the same offer.

0:17:120:17:16

This time the name Resort Management Direct was mentioned

0:17:160:17:19

but the caller said the couple was eligible for the deal

0:17:190:17:22

because they'd been customers of Diamond Resorts in the past.

0:17:220:17:26

Believing that it was a genuine offer,

0:17:260:17:28

we thought it was quite good value.

0:17:280:17:30

Oh, great, cup of tea. Just what we need.

0:17:300:17:35

Thanks.

0:17:350:17:36

After paying £199 over the phone

0:17:360:17:38

the Wilsons received a list of hotels

0:17:380:17:41

and plumped for one in Stratford.

0:17:410:17:43

But during the booking process, Adrian was asked some unexpected

0:17:430:17:47

and rather sensitive questions that he simply was not happy answering.

0:17:470:17:52

It was necessary to put in quite a lot of personal information,

0:17:520:17:55

such as present income and age and I left those off.

0:17:550:18:00

But Resort Management Direct said that if Carol and Adrian

0:18:000:18:03

didn't provide them with all the information they wanted

0:18:030:18:06

they wouldn't be eligible for the offer for which they'd already paid.

0:18:060:18:10

I put in my age and date of birth and so forth

0:18:100:18:13

but as far as income's concerned I gave an adjusted figure.

0:18:130:18:17

Next, Resort Management Direct told Adrian that before they made his

0:18:170:18:21

reservation, the couple would need to confirm that they were willing to

0:18:210:18:24

attend a sales presentation whilst they were staying at the hotel.

0:18:240:18:28

Reluctantly, we agreed to do that.

0:18:280:18:30

And so we thought that we would now finally be able to get this booking.

0:18:300:18:35

Unfortunately not.

0:18:350:18:38

Because after all that, Resort Management Direct told Carol

0:18:380:18:41

and Adrian that, in any case,

0:18:410:18:44

they were too old to be eligible for the offer.

0:18:440:18:47

I was over 60 and Carol was over 60, yeah.

0:18:470:18:51

So we couldn't be accepted because of that.

0:18:510:18:54

No-one had ever mentioned age in the telephone call originally

0:18:540:18:57

and we were told that there were no strings attached.

0:18:570:19:00

Adrian asked for a refund but, insisting the restrictions

0:19:000:19:04

had always been made clear, Resort Management Direct refused.

0:19:040:19:09

-We really felt we'd been taken for a ride.

-It was mis-sold, really,

0:19:090:19:13

from the beginning.

0:19:130:19:14

But what about others who've paid out for this particular deal?

0:19:140:19:18

How likely is it they'll be able to

0:19:180:19:20

stay in the hotels they believe they've booked?

0:19:200:19:23

Well, when we checked the website of Resort Management Direct,

0:19:230:19:26

we saw that they offered accommodation in 62 different hotels

0:19:260:19:31

in the UK, Europe and a few other rather more far-flung destinations.

0:19:310:19:35

We contacted more than 60 of these hotels

0:19:350:19:38

and of the ones that responded, not one of them said they had ever

0:19:380:19:42

taken a booking from Resort Management Direct.

0:19:420:19:45

In fact, the vast majority of them said they'd never even

0:19:450:19:48

heard of the company. Several of the hotels have since said that they are

0:19:480:19:52

going to be taking action to ensure that their hotels are removed

0:19:520:19:56

from the Resort Management Direct website.

0:19:560:20:00

A number of time-share consumer groups have warned customers

0:20:000:20:03

not to get involved with the company, after receiving complaints.

0:20:030:20:07

Among those is Diamond Resorts which told us it is in no way

0:20:070:20:11

affiliated with Resort Management Direct,

0:20:110:20:14

and has never passed on its customers' data to the company.

0:20:140:20:17

International Property Lawyer Stefano Lucatello is all too familiar

0:20:170:20:21

with the way these companies work.

0:20:210:20:23

They have hundreds of telesales people with information,

0:20:230:20:26

they're all on targets and they're there to capture people

0:20:260:20:29

and prey on people who are not aware of what's going on.

0:20:290:20:32

They'll receive a telephone call, and the next thing they know is

0:20:320:20:35

they've parted with their money

0:20:350:20:36

and they'll never receive their contracted product.

0:20:360:20:40

However, when we contacted Resort Management Direct,

0:20:400:20:44

the company told us that it has had more than 45,000 clients

0:20:440:20:48

and that disgruntled customers like the ones we've heard of

0:20:480:20:51

are "most definitely the exception rather than the rule."

0:20:510:20:54

It went on to claim that its customer satisfaction levels are higher

0:20:540:20:58

than those of some of the major holiday companies.

0:20:580:21:01

But when we asked about all those hotels on its website

0:21:010:21:05

which, when we checked, had told us they had no relationship whatsoever

0:21:050:21:09

with Resort Management Direct, it didn't respond.

0:21:090:21:13

Luckily, both the Roeves and the Wilsons were able to get the money

0:21:130:21:17

they'd paid out back from their credit card companies.

0:21:170:21:20

But they've got advice for anyone else who receives a similar offer

0:21:200:21:24

out of the blue.

0:21:240:21:25

If anybody gets a call like this,

0:21:250:21:27

don't touch it with a bargepole, I would say.

0:21:270:21:29

Don't enter into any agreement with anyone

0:21:290:21:33

who is offering you something cheap.

0:21:330:21:35

Still to come on Rip Off Britain, another holiday that didn't exist

0:21:410:21:45

and the family conned out of their cash after booking to stay there.

0:21:450:21:49

The girls came home from school, bags were packed.

0:21:490:21:52

Very excited little girls. And I just said

0:21:520:21:55

some bad people had took Mummy's money and there was no caravan

0:21:550:21:59

and we wasn't going away.

0:21:590:22:01

There definitely can still be benefits to booking through

0:22:040:22:07

a high street travel agent but over 70% of us are now said to

0:22:070:22:11

arrange our holidays online.

0:22:110:22:13

Many of us do it through sites that have become familiar names,

0:22:130:22:16

such as the accommodation website Booking.com.

0:22:160:22:19

It boasts of more than 6.3 million rooms

0:22:190:22:23

booked through the site every week.

0:22:230:22:25

But it seems even Booking.com isn't immune from the scammers.

0:22:250:22:29

Because what happened to the group in our next story is something

0:22:290:22:32

you might imagine occurring after using some dodgy site

0:22:320:22:35

no-one's ever heard of,

0:22:350:22:36

rather than one of the biggest names in the business.

0:22:360:22:39

The ruins at Tulum are one of Mexico's best preserved

0:22:430:22:47

and most visited ancient sites, the walled city all the more

0:22:470:22:51

evocative thanks to its beautiful coastal setting.

0:22:510:22:55

So when newlyweds Karina and Alex

0:22:550:22:57

were invited by some of their closest friends to spend New Year

0:22:570:23:01

with them there, it sounded the perfect way to bring in 2015.

0:23:010:23:06

So what attracted us to Tulum was just being very close to the beach,

0:23:060:23:10

being in a tranquil, peaceful environment away from everything,

0:23:100:23:14

just stroll down the beach, be around all your friends,

0:23:140:23:18

looks really, really special.

0:23:180:23:20

Finding a place to stay that was suitable for the whole party -

0:23:210:23:24

nine people, including two children - was key.

0:23:240:23:28

So the friends turned to online accommodation provider

0:23:280:23:31

Booking.com. And it seemed they were in luck.

0:23:310:23:34

Wow, look at that view.

0:23:360:23:37

This villa just popped up we thought this is absolutely amazing, you know,

0:23:370:23:42

beautiful pool, right by the beach, it was amazing.

0:23:420:23:46

The luxurious villa boasted impressive sea views,

0:23:460:23:50

a terrace for relaxing and, most importantly,

0:23:500:23:53

6 en-suite bedrooms sleeping up to 18 people.

0:23:530:23:57

And as you can see from these stunning photos, there would be

0:23:580:24:01

plenty of room for the whole group to celebrate the New Year in style.

0:24:010:24:06

The pictures of it looked idyllic. There was a swimming pool,

0:24:060:24:08

you had your own private beach, there were kayaks.

0:24:080:24:11

It had everything you'd ever need on a beach holiday.

0:24:110:24:15

Now we're going to try out Mexico.

0:24:150:24:17

So the friends agreed to go ahead and pay 8,100

0:24:190:24:23

to secure the villa through the Booking.com website.

0:24:230:24:27

Once we had booked it they had asked for our credit card details

0:24:270:24:30

and we put those in online and we got a confirmation back

0:24:300:24:33

saying, "Yep, all great".

0:24:330:24:35

But shortly after the group had received their confirmation e-mail

0:24:370:24:40

from Booking.com,

0:24:400:24:41

they got an e-mail from what appeared to be the villa's owner,

0:24:410:24:44

saying he needed payment by PayPal instead of by credit card.

0:24:440:24:48

We actually checked, we called up Booking.com

0:24:480:24:51

and said is this normal and they said to us at that time,

0:24:510:24:54

"It's all fine. We just take your card details,

0:24:540:24:56

"we don't take the money off it

0:24:560:24:58

"and, yes, this is how it's done, you can pay them via PayPal."

0:24:580:25:01

Come on.

0:25:010:25:02

Reassured by Booking.com,

0:25:020:25:05

the group made the payment via the PayPal website.

0:25:050:25:07

You always have your doubts when you're doing these sort of things

0:25:070:25:10

but we are doing it through Booking.com and they are telling us

0:25:100:25:13

it's all safe.

0:25:130:25:15

But the villa's apparent owner then contacted them again.

0:25:150:25:19

This time, he said the PayPal transaction hadn't gone through

0:25:190:25:22

so the money would now have to be paid by bank transfer.

0:25:220:25:26

Nervous about doing that,

0:25:260:25:28

the group called Booking.com for a second time to double check

0:25:280:25:31

that it was OK to send money directly to the owner of the villa.

0:25:310:25:36

They said, "You're completely fine on that level

0:25:360:25:38

"and if the worst did happen, we will find something better

0:25:380:25:41

"or equal to within the same area,

0:25:410:25:43

"so just relax, guys, there's no stress. This is going to be fine."

0:25:430:25:46

With Booking.com's reassurances ringing in their ears,

0:25:480:25:51

Karina and Alex transferred the money

0:25:510:25:54

and began to look forward to their trip.

0:25:540:25:56

And the day of departure soon came round.

0:25:560:25:59

So off we go, excited we're going on holiday, you know,

0:25:590:26:02

we're going to Mexico, and we get on that plane.

0:26:020:26:04

But when Alex and Karina landed in Mexico, they were greeted by

0:26:040:26:09

a text message from their friends who'd already arrived,

0:26:090:26:12

telling them to head not to the villa they'd booked but to a hotel

0:26:120:26:16

some 40km away from where they were supposed to be staying.

0:26:160:26:19

And there was a very worrying reason why.

0:26:190:26:23

They revealed that they had been driving round for several hours

0:26:230:26:27

looking for this villa. They were asking locals,

0:26:270:26:30

they were so concerned they couldn't find it.

0:26:300:26:32

They went to the exact coordinates on Google Maps

0:26:320:26:35

and there was nothing there.

0:26:350:26:36

Sit.

0:26:360:26:38

When they couldn't find the villa,

0:26:380:26:39

Karina's friends had called the offices of Booking.com

0:26:390:26:42

back in the UK who'd confirmed their worst fears.

0:26:420:26:46

Fetch it!

0:26:460:26:47

Booking.com said, "You guys, we're actually, you know...

0:26:470:26:51

"Hate to say this, but this villa does not exist.

0:26:510:26:53

"We can't get hold of the owner."

0:26:530:26:55

Clearly whoever it was the group had been dealing with,

0:26:550:26:58

it wasn't the genuine owner of the house they'd seen.

0:26:580:27:01

Instead, they'd transferred their money to a scammer who'd set up

0:27:010:27:05

a fake listing using photos of a real villa somewhere else.

0:27:050:27:09

Karina and Alex were at a complete loss as to how a respectable,

0:27:090:27:14

big-name website such as Booking.com could have not only let a fraudster

0:27:140:27:18

advertise a fake villa in the first place but, worse still,

0:27:180:27:22

reassure them every time there'd been a warning sign along the way.

0:27:220:27:26

At that point when they told us that we had been right all along

0:27:260:27:29

we were distraught, we were angry, frustrated,

0:27:290:27:33

you know, how could they put us in this position?

0:27:330:27:35

These alarm bells were going off and we looked for reassurance

0:27:350:27:39

and they gave it to us, telling us, "It will all be OK," and it wasn't.

0:27:390:27:42

It was horrific.

0:27:420:27:43

Booking.com did find the group alternative accommodation.

0:27:430:27:48

But, being the busiest time of year, there'd been little choice

0:27:480:27:51

for a party so big and they'd ended up being split between two hotels.

0:27:510:27:56

The one Karina and Alex ended up in made for a very different break

0:27:560:27:59

than the quiet and secluded one they thought they'd booked.

0:27:590:28:02

-This hotel was...

-Huge...

0:28:020:28:04

..the biggest resort I've ever seen in my life.

0:28:040:28:07

It had shopping centres, bowling alleys...

0:28:070:28:09

-Cinemas.

-..cinemas.

-Everything.

0:28:090:28:11

Compared to what we thought we were getting it was the polar opposite.

0:28:110:28:14

But even with this new booking there was a hitch.

0:28:140:28:17

The manager of the hotel told them that because Booking.com hadn't yet

0:28:170:28:21

paid for the group to stay there

0:28:210:28:23

they would have to either pay for it themselves or leave.

0:28:230:28:28

We're now being asked to fork out...something, 18,500.

0:28:280:28:34

But we had to do it in order to not be stranded

0:28:340:28:36

and out on the street again. So we did. We paid it.

0:28:360:28:39

Two days before the end of their week long break,

0:28:390:28:43

Booking.com was able to find the group somewhere more suitable

0:28:430:28:46

to stay in Tulum - the town they'd originally booked to stay in.

0:28:460:28:50

But by this point, as far as Karina and Alex were concerned,

0:28:500:28:53

the whole holiday had been ruined.

0:28:530:28:56

By now we were shattered

0:28:560:28:58

and, you know, as a group, there was a lot of stress between us.

0:28:580:29:01

As soon as the friends got back to the UK,

0:29:010:29:04

they got in touch with Booking.com.

0:29:040:29:07

And whilst the company refunded the 18,500 that the group had paid

0:29:070:29:10

on their credit cards for the alternative accommodation,

0:29:100:29:14

it wasn't prepared to offer any compensation

0:29:140:29:16

for the loss of the villa they'd booked.

0:29:160:29:19

Booking.com is among the best known of the accommodation websites

0:29:190:29:23

that have become the standard way millions of us

0:29:230:29:26

arrange our accommodation around the world.

0:29:260:29:29

Founded in his Amsterdam attic by computer scientist

0:29:290:29:33

Geert Jan Bruinsma in 1996,

0:29:330:29:36

it now employs 10,000 people across the world

0:29:360:29:39

and claims to be "Planet Earth's #1 Accommodation site."

0:29:390:29:44

'Booking.com. Booking.yeah.'

0:29:440:29:47

When we asked the company what went wrong this time,

0:29:470:29:49

it apologised for the disruption and inconvenience caused,

0:29:490:29:53

telling us that the group were

0:29:530:29:54

"victims of a highly sophisticated fraud",

0:29:540:29:57

the likes of which have affected only a very small number

0:29:570:30:00

of the hundreds of millions of bookings taken on the site.

0:30:000:30:04

Booking.com reiterated that despite there being "extremely limited"

0:30:040:30:09

alternative accommodation available in such a peak travel period,

0:30:090:30:13

it had "immediately relocated"

0:30:130:30:15

the group to an all-inclusive five-star resort.

0:30:150:30:19

And the company told us that, as a result of this incident,

0:30:190:30:22

it has and will continue to improve its fraud detection measures,

0:30:220:30:26

to "identify and remove" the very small number of fraudulent listings

0:30:260:30:30

"at the earliest opportunity."

0:30:300:30:32

But if like Karina and Alex you're wondering

0:30:320:30:35

how one of the biggest names in the business came to be offering

0:30:350:30:39

a fraudulent listing, well, perhaps the explanation

0:30:390:30:42

lies in the small print of the Booking.com site,

0:30:420:30:45

where it's made clear that the information shown is based on

0:30:450:30:49

the details sent by the accommodation provider

0:30:490:30:52

and the company itself can't be held responsible

0:30:520:30:55

if any of that turns out to be untrue.

0:30:550:30:57

In other words, if you assume that because it's a big name site

0:30:570:31:01

everything's been checked or vetted - think again.

0:31:010:31:04

So is there any way of knowing if the accommodation you see

0:31:040:31:07

on such third party booking sites is the real deal?

0:31:070:31:10

Our technology expert, David McClelland,

0:31:100:31:13

says there are ways you can check.

0:31:130:31:16

Consider doing a reverse image look up.

0:31:160:31:18

And that's where you, in some browsers, you can click on the image,

0:31:180:31:22

and you can do a search for this image.

0:31:220:31:25

Tap on that and it will show you where else on the internet

0:31:250:31:27

that image appears.

0:31:270:31:29

Now, if the villa you're looking at happens to be in - I don't know -

0:31:290:31:33

in the south of Italy, yet you see identical images also appearing

0:31:330:31:38

for villas in Florida, in France, in Florence, then perhaps

0:31:380:31:43

that's a reason to be concerned that that villa is not what it seems.

0:31:430:31:47

We tried that out with the pictures that had been used on Booking.com.

0:31:470:31:52

When we did we came across the genuine listing

0:31:520:31:55

from where it seems those photos were pinched.

0:31:550:31:58

Something else you can do is take a look at Google Maps

0:31:580:32:01

or Google Street View, in particular,

0:32:010:32:03

and if the images you see on Google Street View match up in no way,

0:32:030:32:07

shape or form with the property that you believe that you're going

0:32:070:32:11

to be renting out, then maybe one or two alarm bells should ring.

0:32:110:32:15

Sound advice, but too late for Karina and Alex,

0:32:150:32:19

who remain astounded that using a big name site they thought

0:32:190:32:22

they could trust ended up giving them

0:32:220:32:25

the worst holiday they've ever had.

0:32:250:32:27

For me, the most frustrating thing about this whole thing was

0:32:270:32:30

how Booking.com dealt with the issues. It felt like they didn't know

0:32:300:32:33

what they were doing or how they were going to solve this problem quickly,

0:32:330:32:36

so it just left us just very, very distraught.

0:32:360:32:38

Our travel expert, Simon Calder, is sharing his top tips

0:32:470:32:51

on favourite destinations across the globe.

0:32:510:32:54

This time it's London.

0:32:560:32:58

It's Simon's home city and as popular as ever with the tourists.

0:33:000:33:03

But watch out, not everyone is as trustworthy as he is.

0:33:030:33:08

So you're walking along and you see some people apparently winning

0:33:090:33:13

quite a lot of money for doing nothing more difficult

0:33:130:33:15

than pointing out which of these cups

0:33:150:33:18

has the ball underneath it.

0:33:180:33:20

Be warned - all of those people are in on the scam.

0:33:200:33:23

Someone will say, "Why don't you have a go?"

0:33:230:33:26

So you put down your money, thinking you're going to double it

0:33:260:33:28

in a second - in fact, you're going to lose the lot...

0:33:280:33:31

and to make your day complete

0:33:310:33:33

you might even be having your pocket picked at the same time.

0:33:330:33:38

London's skyline has had plenty of dramatic new additions

0:33:380:33:41

in recent years,

0:33:410:33:43

and there's one new spot Simon recommends to get the best view.

0:33:430:33:47

Just book in advance and you can visit the Sky Garden at the top

0:33:470:33:51

of the "Walkie-Talkie" skyscraper,

0:33:510:33:53

and discover the most surprising view in London, completely free.

0:33:530:33:58

20 Fenchurch Street, as it's officially known,

0:33:580:34:01

has a public access scheme that enables you to explore life

0:34:010:34:06

hundreds of feet above the city streets.

0:34:060:34:09

For my money - not that you need any -

0:34:090:34:11

it's an even better view than the £25-a-pop Shard,

0:34:110:34:16

because you feel that you're really at the heart of the capital.

0:34:160:34:20

And here's our Londoner's inside tip for the best way to see

0:34:230:34:27

the sights for a fraction of the price.

0:34:270:34:29

You could spend £30 on a round-London sightseeing bus

0:34:300:34:35

or do the economy version for just £1.50 aboard the number 11.

0:34:350:34:41

It takes in many of the capital's great landmarks -

0:34:410:34:43

the Bank of England,

0:34:430:34:45

St Paul's Cathedral, Fleet Street, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square,

0:34:450:34:49

Westminster Abbey and the King's Road through Chelsea.

0:34:490:34:53

Now, a particularly memorable story from our Holiday series last year

0:35:000:35:04

involved a number of people who'd all booked a stay in the same

0:35:040:35:07

seaside caravan only to discover that the caravan didn't actually exist,

0:35:070:35:12

leaving them not only without a holiday but also without the money

0:35:120:35:15

to pay for another one.

0:35:150:35:17

Well, there has been an update on that particular tale.

0:35:170:35:19

But meanwhile, I'm sorry to say,

0:35:190:35:21

a very similar situation appears to have happened with another

0:35:210:35:25

caravanning holiday and another family,

0:35:250:35:28

and a family that, quite frankly, desperately needed a break

0:35:280:35:31

rather more than most.

0:35:310:35:33

You ready for a sandwich?

0:35:350:35:38

Emily Cressey has defied the odds.

0:35:380:35:41

When she was born prematurely at 24 weeks she weighed just 1lb 3oz,

0:35:410:35:47

so fragile that her parents, Alan and Claire, couldn't hold her.

0:35:470:35:50

We was told to expect that she wasn't going to live, basically.

0:35:520:35:56

She was in hospital an hour away from home

0:35:560:35:59

in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in Intensive Care.

0:35:590:36:01

It was very, very stressful, difficult time

0:36:010:36:05

and the situation remained like that for about four months.

0:36:050:36:08

But now Emily is thriving.

0:36:080:36:11

And in August last year, when she was 15 months old,

0:36:110:36:15

Claire decided the whole family -

0:36:150:36:17

and especially Emily's three older sisters -

0:36:170:36:20

were ready for a much-needed break.

0:36:200:36:23

We wanted something for the girls, to pay them back to say, you know,

0:36:230:36:26

"You deserved this, you've been through so much."

0:36:260:36:29

So we saved hard... and for quite a long time.

0:36:290:36:34

Claire's search started on social media

0:36:360:36:39

where she sent out a message asking if anyone could offer

0:36:390:36:42

a week's holiday in a caravan by the seaside for the six of them.

0:36:420:36:47

We decided we'd look for the Skegness area, you know,

0:36:470:36:50

with four girls, so different age ranges, so we needed something

0:36:500:36:54

to accommodate everybody

0:36:540:36:56

and that just seemed an ideal area at the time.

0:36:560:36:58

Claire quickly got a response from someone offering a week long stay

0:37:000:37:03

in their caravan at the Coral Beach Caravan Park in Skegness.

0:37:030:37:08

It's quite close to all the amenities

0:37:090:37:11

and it was just perfect for our family.

0:37:110:37:14

Over the next few days, Claire contacted the apparent owner

0:37:140:37:18

a number of times to make sure the caravan and the site

0:37:180:37:21

had everything the family would need.

0:37:210:37:23

It had the full three bedrooms, so that everybody had a room

0:37:230:37:26

of their own and they accepted pets, so that was important to us, too,

0:37:260:37:31

so we could take our family dog.

0:37:310:37:33

Not wanting to miss out, Claire transferred the full £350

0:37:330:37:38

directly into the seller's bank account

0:37:380:37:41

and sent a message via Facebook to confirm she'd paid.

0:37:410:37:45

I inboxed her on Facebook to say,

0:37:470:37:49

"Can you just check your bank? We've put the money in.

0:37:490:37:52

"Can you just confirm that it's been put into the right account,

0:37:520:37:55

"I haven't got any digits wrong?"

0:37:550:37:57

And I was waiting for the holiday confirmation.

0:37:570:38:00

But then the owner of the caravan went suspiciously quiet.

0:38:000:38:05

My message, it had come up as seen and there was no reply.

0:38:050:38:08

Claire immediately knew something wasn't right.

0:38:080:38:13

I'd had such a good communication, double checking things,

0:38:130:38:17

making sure that it was OK for the babies and...

0:38:170:38:22

there was just no reply. I just knew straight away.

0:38:220:38:26

Fearing the worst, Claire contacted the caravan park to see if it had

0:38:260:38:31

any record of her booking or had a caravan owner

0:38:310:38:34

with the name of the person with whom she'd been dealing.

0:38:340:38:37

I then did what I should have done in the first place,

0:38:370:38:40

I rang Coral Beach and tried to verify the details

0:38:400:38:44

and...the name I gave to the receptionist,

0:38:440:38:49

she confirmed there was no owner on their caravan park of that name.

0:38:490:38:53

There was nothing I could do.

0:38:530:38:55

Wait for Mum.

0:38:550:38:57

Claire had lost both the week away and the £350 she'd paid for it.

0:38:570:39:03

But perhaps the worst part was yet to come.

0:39:030:39:06

The girls came home from school.

0:39:060:39:09

This was two days before we was due to set off on holiday.

0:39:090:39:13

Bags were packed, by the door.

0:39:130:39:15

Very excited little girls.

0:39:150:39:18

And I just said some bad people had took Mummy's money

0:39:180:39:22

and there was no caravan and we wasn't going away.

0:39:220:39:25

These sort of scams are, unfortunately, not uncommon.

0:39:250:39:30

Jane Ryan, Dagmar Gove and Becky Watts had between them

0:39:300:39:34

lost over £1,000 to a woman called Emma Fewings

0:39:340:39:37

who was falsely advertising holidays

0:39:370:39:39

in what turned out to be non-existent caravans.

0:39:390:39:43

Mum-of-four Becky was horrified when she realised the truth.

0:39:430:39:47

I felt absolutely deflated, I felt sick to my stomach,

0:39:470:39:51

I felt cheated, I felt angry, all bag of emotions.

0:39:510:39:56

Lovely, thank you.

0:39:560:39:58

Action Fraud told us it had received no less than 150 reports

0:39:580:40:03

linked to the same supposed caravan owner.

0:40:030:40:06

It's not just devastating knowing the fact that there's no holiday

0:40:060:40:09

but it's upsetting for all the families involved,

0:40:090:40:12

for the children especially.

0:40:120:40:14

We're all in the same boat, we're all extremely angry.

0:40:140:40:18

We put all these points to Emma Fewings. She didn't respond.

0:40:180:40:23

But since we filmed, she pleaded guilty to 12 different charges of fraud

0:40:230:40:28

and was sentenced at Plymouth Magistrates Court

0:40:280:40:31

to a 12-month community order

0:40:310:40:33

and ordered to pay £3,860 in compensation.

0:40:330:40:36

And back in the Scottish Borders,

0:40:360:40:38

Claire is hoping for a similar resolution.

0:40:380:40:41

The police have investigated, and though arrests have been made,

0:40:410:40:45

the case is still ongoing.

0:40:450:40:47

We tried contacting the person Claire had been dealing with...

0:40:470:40:50

..but so far haven't received a response.

0:40:510:40:54

And Facebook, where Claire had come across the scammer originally,

0:40:540:40:57

told us that it is working with her

0:40:570:40:59

to try and get to the bottom of the matter.

0:40:590:41:01

But we're delighted to say that for Claire and her family

0:41:030:41:06

there was a happy ending.

0:41:060:41:08

After their story was featured in the local paper, an anonymous donor

0:41:080:41:12

gave the family £350

0:41:120:41:14

which they used to buy a genuine holiday.

0:41:140:41:18

They just gave the money, they had no reason to, just sheer kindness,

0:41:180:41:22

which made a big difference to the way we felt about the situation,

0:41:220:41:26

and that taught the girls that there are good people out there.

0:41:260:41:29

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate then you can always

0:41:370:41:40

get in touch with us via our Facebook page,

0:41:400:41:43

BBC Rip Off Britain,

0:41:430:41:45

our website, bbc.co.uk/ripoffbritain

0:41:450:41:49

or you can e-mail us:

0:41:490:41:52

Or if you would prefer to send us a letter, then our address is:

0:41:540:41:59

Well, as we've seen from today's stories, the sad reality is that

0:42:100:42:13

wherever you book your holiday and however trusted the names are

0:42:130:42:18

that are help you do that, scammers always find a way to take advantage,

0:42:180:42:23

particularly if they're dead-set on deliberately ripping you off.

0:42:230:42:27

The way they usually do that is somehow hijacking the payments

0:42:270:42:31

process and in particular coming up with some sort of reason

0:42:310:42:35

why you need to transfer your money directly into their account.

0:42:350:42:39

So, if there's just one piece of advice you take away

0:42:390:42:41

from today's programme, please make it to always be cautious of anyone

0:42:410:42:46

wanting you to pay in that fashion.

0:42:460:42:48

Because if things do go wrong you won't have the protection

0:42:480:42:51

that you'd get by, for example, using a credit card.

0:42:510:42:54

And on that cautionary note I'm afraid we have to leave it

0:42:540:42:57

for today. We'll be back investigating more of your stories

0:42:570:43:00

very soon, but until then, if you are planning a holiday we obviously

0:43:000:43:04

hope that everything goes completely smoothly,

0:43:040:43:06

but if it doesn't that you'll write and let us know about it.

0:43:060:43:10

Thanks for joining us today.

0:43:100:43:11

-From all of us, goodbye.

-Bye-bye.

-Bye-bye.

0:43:110:43:13

The latest holiday scams are revealed in this edition of the consumer investigation series, presented by Julia Somerville, Angela Rippon, and Gloria Hunniford. As viewers reveal how they were cheated out of thousands of pounds, there's advice to make sure you don't get caught out the same way. Among the stories: how the plans of dozens of hen party revellers were scuppered by the same fraudster who had advertised a villa that didn't exist. Why won't the big name they booked through return all their money? Plus a family with more reason than most to need a holiday explains how they were cruelly exploited - until a complete stranger came to the rescue. Also, Simon Calder has advice on visiting a popular destination close to home.