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Thomson apologies to tour customer over abusive emails

Dec 02, 2012 12:57 am

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Whether an employee interfered with customer service emails or an agent went rogue, Thomson needs to enhance its oversight. And its compensation offer seems paltry considering what the customer was subjected to and the disappointing experience on the tour.

— Dennis Schaal

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Part of a Thomson slideshow on Mexico.


A leading holiday firm has apologised after a member of staff accused a customer who complained about a trip to Mexico of being a “moaning bitch” in a foul-mouthed email.

Gemma Fish visited the Central American country on a £3,000 Thomson holiday with her partner over Valentine’s Day this year.

Shortly after arriving the 29-yer-old complained to the holiday firm by email that she was unhappy with the standard of the hotel that they had been given. She also rang Thomson’s 24-hour helpline.

However rather than getting a courteous reply, Ms Fish received a series of abusive and expletive-laden emails.

One email, which Ms Fish received in March this year, told her to “shut the —- up” and said that Thomson did not want her custom. The email went on to suggest that Ms Fish book a holiday with rival company Thomas Cook instead.

Another email said: “You need to go an see ur rep but she really won’t really give a —- like the 27/7 holidayline.”

When she complained about the emails, Ms Fish was promised compensation by Thomson, which she says failed to materialise.

Thomson, which is one of the world’s largest tour operators, has since apologised to Ms Fish. It said that the abusive emails were sent by an employee who “interfered with a number of internal email accounts”. The police were informed and the employee has since been dismissed, the company said.

The company has since offered her a cheque for £150.

Ms Fish’s troubles started when she arrived in Mexico for a romantic break – that also co-incided with her birthday – to find that the “below-standard” hotel room was “nothing at all” like the one advertised.

In an email to the company sent during her holiday Ms Fish said: “The tiles on the floor were chipped, there is literally 2 beds, a desk and a TV.. You have taken £3,000 off me and I am absolutely horrified you can do this to people.”

Ms Fish, whose experience will be revealed in an episode of Watchdog Daily on BBC1 on Thursday at 11am, also telephoned Thomson’s 24-hour helpline to be told that she would have to pay a supplement for changing rooms.

She said she was “gobsmacked” by the emails and will not be accepting Thomson’s compensation.

One month after she sent the initial email, Ms Fish received the first of a string of abusive emails in reply. Most of them were written in abbreviated ‘text speak’. One includes the phrase “lol”, which stands for “laugh out loud”.

The full text of the first email, which is entitled ‘URGENT: Holiday Nightmare’, reads: “Gemma do u really think we give a —- Because we don’t so shut the —- up with your moaning and book with Thomas Cook coz we don’t want ur custom lol and the hotel have said u r one MOANING bitch.”

In a statement, Thomson apologised to Ms Fish for the “unacceptable emails” she received.

The company said: “An employee interfered with a number of internal email accounts, sending inappropriate emails. We carried out a full internal investigation, as well as supporting the police in their investigation, the issue was dealt with immediately and the staff member was dismissed.”

Thomson initially offered Ms Fish vouchers as compensation but when she did not receive these, the travel firm revised its offer to a cheque for £100. However Ms Fish did not receive the offer of this cheque either, so Thomson has now increased its offer to £150.

The company said it was “disappointed” Ms Fish did not receive the vouchers she was expecting as compensation.

It said: “Following a communication from Ms Fish, the offer of vouchers had been revised to a cheque for £100. However, we did not receive any confirmation that this offer was accepted and were therefore unable to process the cheque. As it now appears this communication was not received, we have been in touch with Ms Fish again to reiterate our offer. As an apology for the delay in concluding this matter, we have increased the offer to £150.

The firm added: “We would like to reassure our customers that the interference of these email accounts was an isolated incident. Customer service is of paramount importance to Thomson and we have taken all the steps necessary to ensure it does not happen again.”

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