I am not really sure what the best way to describe this is. I’d take a punt and call it unethical, though am not sure if that is the best description. Either way, I have your attention, and I’d like to tell you about my experience with Blue Sea Holidays.
So it all started a few months ago when we were looking for holidays to Egypt. A year ago, we had been to Dahab, near Sharm-el-Sheikh, and fallen in love with it. We desperately wanted to go back to Egypt, and as flights to Sharm-el-Sheikh were still not happening, we decided to go to Hurghada instead. A bit of Googling suggested Blue Sea Holidays offering some great deals, and we thought, why not. It ticks all the boxes, is registered and all that, and the reviews seem good.
After a bit of research, we had nailed down the dates we wanted, and the hotel we wanted to stay in. It all looked lovely, and we were rather excited.
So I sat down and started to go through the ‘registration and paying for the holiday process’. This is when the funny stuff started to happen.
While I was going through the online forms, I get a call from a private number.
Since I had put in my number on the form, Blue Sea Holidays, or one of their reps I guess, decided to ring me.
Pretty weird, I thought.
They promised me a good deal, so I decided to humour them by talking through the call.
They said the hotel I was going for was expensive, but they’d be able to give me a better deal if I went with a different hotel. I said no. We had done our research, and were pretty keen to be there.
They said that, okay, in that case, this is the so and so deal they can get me. That deal was more expensive than the website was quoting so I said no.
They gave me a grumpy ‘oh that will never work out’ and hung up on me.
How strange, I thought, but then dismissed it.
Went ahead, and made my booking.
Paid the huge amount it was for two people, and waited for the confirmation emails to come through.
20 minutes go by and I get another phone call. Once again, a rep from Blue Sea Holidays, and this time a totally different person.
They tell me the bad news. The hotel we booked for ‘has run out of rooms’, so the only way we can still be there is by paying £120 extra. We won’t get a better room, merely the same level of room, but without the view. So, we’d get a worse room at an extra cost. All a bit confusing, and rather annoying.
We have a choice, he tells us. We can just get our money back, and that would be that. Or we can pay the extra £120 and get the new deal.
Tired, annoyed, we succumbed. I accepted the deal, but refused to pay on the phone. The guy told me this was a good idea as he could be any random. He said that I’ll get an email from Blue Sea Holidays with a receipt showing £120 still in balance and the number to call to pay it. So I did, and eventually, I paid up.
Curious, we emailed the hotel directly, just to check what was going on. They said they only had two kinds of rooms: the standard which we were gonna pay for, and a posher option which has the ‘sea view’. They hadn’t actually run out of the room which was on offer. They also hadn’t had any communication with Blue Sea Holidays about any of this. Sadly, they couldn’t help us either, as our contract was with Blue Sea Holidays, and not with them.
As far as I am aware, unless somebody can advise me better, none of what Blue Sea Holidays did was illegal. However, if they are ringing every single booking of theirs to increase the price up by a £100, they are easily making a lot of money, and specially on top of the numbers they are quoting on the website.
These holiday companies operate on the simple premise that they block book airlines and hence push the prices up. Now they are also pushing the prices up on their own website, by forcing people to pay a number higher than what is quoted on their website.
Illegal? Probably not. Unethical? Definitely!
PS, feel free to advise me on this, if I can take this up with anyone, or any institute or at least report them officially to some kind of authority for this. If not, at least I hope I have warned potential travellers of this pesky little scam by them.