Huddersfield travel Villa Parade company at centre of "scam" storm

Travel bosses probe spat between holiday companies affecting Huddersfield firm

Office of villaparade.com, 21 Belmont Street, Huddersfield.

Travel watchdogs are investigating a bizarre mix-up over a Huddersfield holiday company.

Dozens of customers of Villa Parade have received emails from another travel company, telling them their holidays will not be honoured.

In some cases, the holidaymakers have paid out thousands of pounds for villas in the Spanish sun.

But Villa Parade have hit back insisting there are no problems and claiming that their database details have been illegally used.

Now officials of the travel association ABTA and lawyers are conducting an inquiry into the allegations.

Villa Parade, who have been based in Huddersfield for the past 15 years, are members of ABTA but the other company, Travelopo, have been excluded from the organisation.

One customer caught up in the scandal is Emma Longbottom, of Warwick. She and her husband James paid £3,000 for a holiday in Majorca in June but have just received an email from Travelopo telling them the holiday would not be honoured and needed to be rebooked through them.

“We are worried. We had paid out all the money and my initial efforts to contact Villa Parade got me nowhere. I finally got through and they insisted the holiday was okay. They said it it was not there would be a full refund”.

A former Huddersfield woman, who asked not to be named, said she had paid £1,500 for a villa holiday in Majorca, which her family were due to take in July.

“We booked and paid the full balance,” she said. “We had heard that Villa Parade had gone bust and that all the contracts had been sold to another company.”

A spokesman for Highfields-based Villa Parade said: “We can confirm that an unforeseeable and regrettable issue has arisen with a limited number of bookings that have been arranged for customers travelling and staying in Northern Majorca/Pollenca area. We were only made aware of this issue just over a week ago. Since then Villa Parade has been taking all possible steps to contact affected customers in order of priority and to resolve their specific booking issues including offering alternative accommodation and/or where re-booking is not possible offering full refunds.

“We are aware that Travelopo has been contacting Villa Parade customers in relation to the current issues. Travelopo and its agents are currently under investigation in relation to their actions.

“We would strongly recommend that any Villa Parade customers who have been contacted by Travelopo do not respond to them and instead contact Villa Parade directly by email at info@villaparade.co.uk so that Villa Parade can take all necessary steps to clarify the current situation and if necessary resolve any issues with their booking”.

An ABTA spokesman said: “ABTA is aware that a number of clients who have a booking with ABTA member Villa Parade, may have recently received an email from a company trading as Travelopo concerning their villa booking.

“Villa Parade is a member of ABTA and its accommodation is financially protected with ABTA. In the first instance if customers have any concerns regarding their booking with Villa Parade as a result of the email from Travelopo, please call them directly to discuss this.

“If Villa Parade is unable to honour these bookings then it should offer customers a suitable alternative villa booking, or where this is not possible a full refund on the cost of this villa booking. If customers are unsatisfied with the response, then please contact ABTA.”

She added that Travelopo had its membership of ABTA terminated on April 14, with immediate effect.

This was as a result of the company’s failure to meet ABTA’s financial requirements of membership which ABTA takes very seriously.

“As Travelopo is no longer a member of ABTA, we have asked them to remove the ABTA logo from their marketing materials and customer correspondence. In a separate matter, Travelopo raised concerns regarding some villa bookings made by ABTA member Villa Parade and ABTA is conducting an investigation into these concerns.”

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