Freda Jackson, 81, a retired care assistant from Blackburn, Lancashire, has mobility problems and was travelling with a friend aged 61, both of whom had ‘paid for [the holiday] from their pensions…over 12 months’, with their two-week break costing them €1,270 (1,160 pounds).
She received an apology and the promise of a voucher for 75 pounds (€82.11) towards another holiday from Thomas Cook – increased to 566 pounds (€619.67) to be split between the pair after she rejected the first offer – because of other, legitimate complaints she had about her trip.
Ms Jackson was advised of date changes just six days before her flight and, despite asking for a hotel on the flat because of her mobility problems, was based in the Poseidon Playa on a steep slope, on the 14th floor.
After complaining, she was moved to the second floor but says she still had to get down ’42 steps’ to the swimming pool.
There was no Thomas Cook rep on site, meaning she had to write to the company directly, Ms Jackson claimed.
But hotel staff – who, because of the demographics of their most prolific clientèle, speak fluent English – insist they offered Ms Jackson help to get down the slope and she ‘refused assistance’.
These issues are not, however, the part of Freda Jackson’s complaint that has made international headlines and entries into ‘quirky news’ sites such as Gonzoo and UniLad – the pensioner’s story has gone viral because she said the fact that there were ‘too many Spaniards’ in Benidorm ‘ruined her holiday’.
“The hotel was full of Spanish holidaymakers and they really got on our nerves because they were just so rude,” she says.
“One evening a Spanish guy nearly knocked me flying and he just walked off without even apologising.
“The entertainment in the hotel was all focused and catered for the Spanish – why can’t the Spanish go somewhere else for their holidays?
“I have never complained about a holiday before – but this one was a disaster from start to finish and was totally ruined. I cried after.”
Thomas Cook has stressed its compensation offer was in response to the last-minute flight changes and the fact the accommodation was not ideal for a person with mobility troubles and has nothing to do with the fact Freda’s holiday was a ‘disaster’ because her hotel was ‘full of Spaniards’.