- 13:13, 9 MAY 2019
A mum has hit out at travel giant TUI after she was forced to pay a £200 fee to cancel her daughter's free place on a family holiday to Spain.
Gemma Disson was due to travel to Menorca this month with her partner and four-year-old daughter but had to cancel the £1,000 holiday for family reasons.
Ms Disson, from Cardiff, said she booked through TUI in January because the holiday included a free place for her child.
When she cancelled the getaway she was stunned when she was hit with a £200 fee to cover her daughter's booking – even though it was free – and she has now called on TUI to "put things right".
Ms Disson expected she and her partner would each be charged a £200 cancellation fee, but she was surprised when the total charge was £600.
TUI's terms and conditions state cancellation charges are a percentage of the cost of the booking.
The charge covers the cost of processing the cancellation and compensates the firm for the risk it might not be able to resell the holiday.
Ms Disson has not heard back from TUI after writing to the firm in February to query the charge.
Her letter read: "I appreciate the cost of £200 per person in fees and I expected that for myself and my partner but not for my daughter.
"We booked the holiday on the pretence that there was a FREE child place which indeed was correct.
"On this understanding, and having looked through your terms and conditions, I could not see any reason why or how you could charge £200 cancellation fee for a child was in fact free in the first place."
Ms Disson said: "I couldn't believe there was a charge for something that was free.
"We've been charged £600 to cancel a holiday that cost just under £1,000 in the first place.
"It's just very disappointing and TUI has not even replied to my letter."
Last month, the competition watchdog warned travel firms they must act fairly towards customers who need to cancel their plans.
Under consumer law, firms may be entitled to ask customers to pay a cancellation fee to cover their losses but the amount they keep must be in proportion to what they are losing.
The Competition and Markets Authority warned cancellation terms that do not follow this approach are likely to be unfair and businesses cannot rely on them to resolve claims or disputes with customers.
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: "Having to cancel a holiday for any reason is bound to be stressful – especially when you are likely to lose your deposit and have to pay a cancellation fee.
"It is then adding insult to injury for customers to be charged that same hefty cancellation fee for a child whose holiday was supposedly free. It is punitive and unfair.
"TUI would do well to reflect and make sure that the terms in their customer contracts are fair and that cancellation fees genuinely reflect the cost to the company of cancelling holidays."
Mirror Online has contacted TUI for comment.
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