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JAMES WALKER Complaints champion fights for your rights.

FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN BOOKING A HOLIDAY ARE you fed up of the winter blues? Looking to book a summer holiday? You won't be alone - huge numbers of Brits book their summer holidays during the winter months as a way to brighten up those dark days of late winter.

If you're one of them, you should remember's top tips to make sure you don't have to worry about your holiday going wrong. That way, you shouldn't have to make a complaint.

Make | sure you know what you're going to get A big cause of customer complaints for any issue is when you do not get what you expect - and holidays are no different. Complaints about getaways gone wrong can include anything from hotel rooms not facing the sea to all-inclusive package deals not including premium spirits.

The way to protect yourself from this issue is to read the small print carefully when you book your holiday, and ensure you understand precisely what's included.

If, when you actually go on it, the holiday is 'not as described', then you have a case.

You need to manage your expectations though, because you get what you pay for - the service levels you can expect to receive from a PS4,000-per-person holiday will be very different from a PS400-per-person holiday.

CheCk | out the reviews If you have a bad experience while on holiday, it's unlikely that you'll be the first person to have an issue with a hotel or holiday destination.

So do your research before you go - have a look at reviews on independent sites to see how others have rated your proposed destination. Is there something bad waiting for you that others have experienced? Don't get caught out.

Pay | by credit card If you pay for the holiday on your credit card, your credit card provider is jointly responsible for your issue if something goes wrong.

This is the case as long as you have paid more than PS100 and less than PS30,000 for the holiday (which we presume covers most people's breaks...). If you cannot do this, then ensure the firm you are booking with is a member of ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) or AITO (the Association of Independent Tour Operators).

Both these organisations will expect you to pay towards mediation of your dispute, but your credit card operator can refund you if you are not satisfied and if they do not handle your issue.

You can also go to the Financial Ombudsman for free independent assessment.

CheCk | your spam or junk mail folders has seen cases where a tour operator or travel agent has sent email reminders for payments to consumers that go unheeded because the message has gone into the customer's spam folder.

As a result, the hopeful holidaymakers have missed the communications, missed out on their holiday and lost their deposit - and this last part alone can run to thousands of pounds.

So check to ensure any important emails are coming through to your inbox and not getting caught out by your spam filter, especially if you've bought your holiday online.

CheCk | your passports Sounds simple this one, but if you're going on holiday during school summer break time, you can guarantee that by the time May comes around everyone is trying to get new or renewed passports.

That's when the response times of the Passport Agency slow to a crawl.

So don't get stressed and end up having to pay for a premium turnaround service - get your passports updated as soon as possible if they are going to be out of date before you head off.

You'll also need to remember to check how long your passports need to be valid for after your arrival date. The length of this depends on your destination country: some countries want three or six months valid on your passport at the time of your entry to the county.

If you're heading to more exotic climes, you may need to sort out specific visas too, and this can sometimes be complicated, so make sure you get these in order well in advance of travelling.

Overall, it's a case of careful and thorough planning - don't get caught out, so you can have a relaxing holiday and not start it off with too much stress!

For | a simple and easy way to complain about over 1,500 companies go to or download the iPhone App. If you have a case and need some advice on how to complain, contact


Check out reviews of your destination before you book
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 31, 2015
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