Thomas Cook horror stories

  • Kristine Williams, 61, suffered severe electric shock at Thomas Cook hotel 
  • She brushed an exposed wire and was flung across the hotel room
  • Thomas Cook claimed she put herself at risk by moving her bedside table
  • Disabled Janice Campbell won discrimination claim against holiday firm

Simon Murphy

and
Nick Craven for The Mail on Sunday

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Thomas Cook has claimed that a woman who received a severe electric shock in one of its holiday hotels put herself at risk by moving her bedside table.

The astonishing allegation came after the company initially denied there were exposed live wires in its hotel room in Cuba booked by Kristine Williams.

The firm only backed down when Miss Williams produced a mobile phone video showing the bare power wires that shocked her – but still suggested she was to blame.

Kristine Williams suffered an electric shock in a Thomas Cook hotel, pictured with her brother Gareth

Kristine Williams suffered an electric shock in a Thomas Cook hotel, pictured with her brother Gareth

Miss Williams’ ordeal happened on the last day of her holiday in the Brisas Guardalavaca hotel at Holguin, where Thomas Cook charges up to £1,700 per week for a twin room.

As she packed to go to the airport she dropped a hairbrush behind the table and moved it to retrieve the brush. She brushed an exposed wire and was flung across the room. She was left lying stunned on the floor.

The 61-year-old teacher from Porthcawl, South Wales, said: ‘I could have been killed and a child or elderly person probably would have been. I’d done nothing unusual, just moved a table to find my brush.’

Her brother Gareth, 54, also a teacher, travelled with her and family members for the fortnight’s break last November. He said: ‘There were bare, live wires running up the table and into the TV.

‘Our concern was to stop anyone getting killed. We could see buses arriving with families on board.

Miss Williams brushed an exposed wire and was flung across the room, pictured is the wiring in the room at the hotel in Cuba

Miss Williams brushed an exposed wire and was flung across the room, pictured is the wiring in the room at the hotel in Cuba

‘The Thomas Cook rep came and apologised for the state of the wiring. Although I’d filmed everything I assumed the company would act quickly. But when we got home and complained in writing Thomas Cook denied there was anything wrong.

‘We’d never asked for compensation but they seemed to assume that’s what we wanted.’ In a letter dated March 23, liability claims technician Raluca Smith offered ‘sincere apologies’ for the ‘most regrettable incident’.

She added: ‘You refer to a lengthy video recording confirming the opposite but we are yet to receive it. We confirm that our rep on site together with the hotel staff checked the area after your sister suffered the electric shock and they found that there were no exposed wires with power. I have no evidence that the hotel has been negligent.’

Furious, Mr Williams emailed Ms Smith the phone video the next day. The family heard nothing more but after the inquest into the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd they spoke to The Mail on Sunday.

‘We couldn’t believe Thomas Cook was claiming it now operated a stringent safety culture,’ said Mr Williams. ‘We knew this was nonsense.’

After the family spoke to the media, Thomas Cook responded by offering a ‘goodwill payment’ of £200, which they rejected.

Then, on Monday, the company issued a statement suggesting Miss Williams had put herself at risk.

While accepting that the wiring was ‘wholly unacceptable’ and had been ‘immediately rectified’, it claimed ‘the wires were only exposed when the piece of furniture was away from the wall and did not pose a threat when correctly in place.’

Solicitor Alan Bowen, a travel law consultant and former head of legal services at tour operators’ association ABTA, said Thomas Cook’s argument was risible.

Her ordeal happened on the last day of her holiday in the Brisas Guardalavaca hotel (pictured) at Holguin, Cuba, (pictured) where Thomas Cook charges up to £1,700 per week for a twin room

Her ordeal happened on the last day of her holiday in the Brisas Guardalavaca hotel (pictured) at Holguin, Cuba, (pictured) where Thomas Cook charges up to £1,700 per week for a twin room

‘They’re saying to holidaymakers, ‘Don’t move anything in your room because you might kill yourself.’ They should have apologised quickly, made the rooms safe and offered this family their money back or a free holiday.’

A spokesman for Thomas Cook said last night the company had reached an amicable settlement with the Williams family.

When Thomas Cook was ordered to pay £7,500 damages to an elderly disabled holidaymaker, they spent many thousands more in legal costs appealing against the decision on a technicality – and lost.

A judge found the holiday firm had discriminated against Janice Campbell, 67, under the Disability Act. Mrs Campbell from Sheffield, who has problems standing and walking because of arthritis, had to cut short a holiday to Tunisia because of civil disturbances in January 2011.

Disabled holidaymarker Janice Campbell, 67, (pictured) had to cut short a holiday to Tunisia because of civil disturbances in January 2011

Disabled holidaymarker Janice Campbell, 67, (pictured) had to cut short a holiday to Tunisia because of civil disturbances in January 2011

She spent four hours standing at Monastir Airport before discovering no flight was available, and then developed a migraine leading to vomiting and extreme discomfort. The next day, hoping to be flown back to East Midlands Airport, she was flown back to Manchester.

Mrs Campbell was awarded the damages after Judge Robinson at Sheffield County Court found the company guilty of disability discrimination for not providing seating or properly caring for her.

Thomas Cook then appealed to the Court of Appeal in London, but over whether the judge was correct in his interpretation of the Equality Act 2010 and its effect on airports outside the European Union.

On October 30 last year the appeal court upheld the original judge’s decision, meaning Mrs Campbell kept her payout.

Mrs Campbell told The Mail on Sunday that Thomas Cook appeared to be ‘about profits and greed’. She recalled: ‘During the evacuation of holidaymakers from Tunisia, Thomas Cook had me in agony standing for four hours at Monastir Airport, despite me telling them I couldn’t stand for long periods. I was ill for several days after getting home but at least I didn’t die. My heart went out to the Shepherd family.

‘It seems to me that with Thomas Cook, it’s firstly about appearances.They must maintain their good name at all costs. The fiasco in Corfu caused them to lose face but resulted in them raking in far more money than the real victims. What an injustice that they should benefit like they did. Secondly, it’s about profits and greed.’ She added: ‘Ten to 15 years ago Thomas Cook were a well-respected High Street travel company. I believe they are now an object of derision and that people are deciding to boycott them.

‘To me, boycotting them is the sensible thing to do.

‘If all goes well with a Thomas Cook holiday they’re as good as most travel companies selling to the ordinary person. Woe betide you, though, if things go wrong.’

Thomas Cook declined to comment last night. 

  • Have you got a Thomas Cook holiday story?

Email our news team at holidaystories@mailonsunday.co.uk or phone 02073987040 

 


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Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3094520/Thomas-Cook-horror-stories.html