Hi there, I am making this post as a warning to others and a request for help. First the warning:
If you book an excursion from your hotel with a holiday representative, and have any kind of accident, - you are absolutely on your own. I booked an excursions with First Choice, (Part of the TUI Group which also includes Thomson), in Egypt for among other things, quad biking. The excursions were sold by the reps as “fully insured” and “all our excursions meet UK Health and Safety standards”, and they gave us the scare stories that if we booked locally we would not be covered by insurance or the H & S standards would be poor.
Unfortunately I had a serious accident on a defective quad bike. When I was found I was unconscious and had severe facial injuries, lost most of my front teeth, broken bones and numerous other injuries. What did the staff do. Put me in a taxi and dumped me back in my hotel room. No doctor, no ambulance, - nothing. What did First Choice do? - nothing. Eventually I managed to get the hotel involved and they transported me to the hospital and I received emergency treatment.
First Choice paid for the hospital. I asked them for their insurance details as I could see at the very least I was going to need extensive dental work, and they informed me that I had to claim off my own insurance and they would cover any shortfall. However when I contacted my insurance company I discovered that “activity sports” was excluded.
When I got home I wrote to First Choice and explained what had happened. I did not consider my accident a lottery win, - I just wanted them to cover the costs of my dental reconstruction, a refund of my holiday cost, (the accident happened two days into a 14 day holiday) and literally a few bob or a holiday voucher discount to cover the other injuries. I thought that was fair. However First Choice just don’t play fair.
There is no such thing as First Choice Claims Department, - my letters went straight to their legal department. I have had two years of unanswered letters, requests for further information and eventually a denial of responsibility.
First Choice are now saying I had “no reason to believe that they had sold me the excursion” and that I was very well aware that I was buying this excursion from a third party, and that I should sue the third party. (Apart from the fact this company is in Egypt, I don’t even know their name). I have also been informed that there are NO Health and Safety standards in Egypt, - therefore they MET LOCAL STANDARDS! They do not dispute that the quad bike was defective, - but they are now stating that because there was a dinner break and the bikes were parked up, - that someone else, (is that a third or fourth party?), - could have tampered with my bike and therefore they say this is not their fault, or the fault of the quad bike people!
I am self-employed and was not able to work for three months after this accident and still have medical problems relating to it. However two years of fruitless correspondence, First Choice are refusing to even cover my dental bills, and have invited me to sue them.
I have seen a solicitor and have a number of problems. Suing the quad bike folk in Egypt is a non-starter, especially in light of there being NO local standards to breach. However, I keep saying the excursion was sold to me by their reps on the basis that it had full insurance and met UK Health and Safety standards, - and that is clearly not the case. However, First Choice are denying that they ever sold excursions on this basis, and I cannot PROVE otherwise.
I have been on a number of holidays with First Choice and Thomson over the years and I know that they have ALWAYS sold their excursions on the basis that the locals are all scoundrels and have no insurance. I believe they have now changed the way they currently market these excursions due to a court case that they lost, but certainly a couple of years ago they were selling on this basis. So I am hoping that other people who are reading this will contact me in writing to confirm that First Choice/Thomson/TUI did state at their welcoming meetings that their excursions are up to UK Health and Safety standards and fully covered by insurance. I can be contacted by a post to this message, through a PM or by email to qwennie at hotmail dot co dot uk.
If I can gather enough evidence that they did sell their excursions in this manner I may have some chance of bringing a case against them. I am totally outraged that not only was I mis-sold this excursion, but that I have suffered genuine injury, (all backed up by medical records), and that TUI are using their highly paid legal teams to try and wriggle out of their responsibilities. I thank God I was not killed or disabled, and it horrifies me to think that this could happen to others because this company is so greedy for revenue that they want to grab your cash and bat off any repercussions.
So, be warned from my predicament. If you buy an excursion from any TUI company, First Choice or Thomson, - you are buying from a THIRD party, (regardless of what they may tell you), and if you have any difficulties you have to chase the local company directly, - not TUI. Also, there are NO Health and Safety standards in Egypt, - so even if you are on a defective bike, car, coach etc., - they will have broken no local standards. And finally, - you are not insured by TUI. If you have a problem, - you are on your own!!!!