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Haven extends park closures over coronavirus - but customers criticise refund process

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:53 01 May 2020

Haven Seashore Holiday Park, Yarmouth.

Haven Seashore Holiday Park, Yarmouth.

Holiday maker Haven has announced that its parks will remain closed for longer than expected due to the coronavirus lockdown, but customers are frustrated with lack of clarity over the refunds process.

Haven Holidays. Photo: Derek JamesHaven Holidays. Photo: Derek James

Originally, the holiday company had planned to open its parks on Thursday, May 14, but will now be extending closure until a provisional date of Sunday, May 31.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the park said: “With government lockdown and social distancing still enforced, we have had to make the sad decision to further extend our current closure period.

“Like you, we are disappointed for our guests who were looking to holiday with us.

“We will be looking forward to welcoming you back to our parks later this year and into 2021.”

Hopton Holiday Park. Picture: Google MapsHopton Holiday Park. Picture: Google Maps

They added that teams would be contacting everyone who had a break booked during this period to offer them several options to “change their booking”.

However, many of those who had trips booked with Haven in Great Yarmouth holiday parks are unhappy with their handling of the situation.

Darran Till, who frequently holidays with Haven at Hopton, said: “My family and I have a holiday booked for June 25 with Haven and on countless occasions I have contacted them about it.

“We ideally would like a refund because due to Covid-19 it’s quite clear that holidays will not resume until next year. We all know even if lockdown is decreased it will take a while to return to normality.

“Though we contacted Haven about this, and they cannot confirm it will reopen by June 25, they are insisting that the remainder of our holiday cost still needs to be paid.”

Haven holiday parks hold special memories for many families, but some are frustrated with their response to the pandemic. Photo: STEVE SNELLINGHaven holiday parks hold special memories for many families, but some are frustrated with their response to the pandemic. Photo: STEVE SNELLING

Mr Till added: “I am reluctant to pay the remainder due to lack of confirmation, but the due date for the payment has now passed and I have so far received two emails threatening to cancel our holiday with loss of deposit.

“In this current climate that is just not acceptable.”

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For Lisa-Marie Wright, from King’s Lynn, Haven have not been in contact since she received an initial email from them offering either refund or a rebook.

Lisa-Marie Wright and her family at one of their many holidays at Hopton-on-Sea. Photo: Kayla BarrettLisa-Marie Wright and her family at one of their many holidays at Hopton-on-Sea. Photo: Kayla Barrett

She and her family were supposed to be visiting the park at Hopton on March 30.

Ms Wright said: “We chose as a family to rebook and hopefully will hear back shortly.

“I’ve been holidaying there for decades and think that their decision to extend closure is absolutely the right one, especially since I have multiple sclerosis and don’t want to take any risks.

“I can only imagine the staff are doing their best to get back to customers - though some who booked after us have been refunded and others like myself haven’t actually heard anything.”

Lisa-Marie Wright and her family at one of their many holidays at Hopton-on-Sea. Photo: Kayla BarrettLisa-Marie Wright and her family at one of their many holidays at Hopton-on-Sea. Photo: Kayla Barrett

She added: “I’ve seen a lot of angry and upset messages and to be honest, I feel for the staff who work for holiday companies because it’s a situation I am sure nobody has ever prepared for - so I’m just being patient.

“We have gone to Haven since I was a child and I’m now 38. Our family are looking forward to going back when it is safe to do so.

“The only sad bit is that my autistic son was desperate to go.”

In response, a spokesperson for Haven said: “Our customer care team has been exceptionally busy throughout this unprecedented period and we thank customers for their patience.

Lisa-Marie Wright and her family at one of their many holidays at Hopton-on-Sea. Photo: Kayla BarrettLisa-Marie Wright and her family at one of their many holidays at Hopton-on-Sea. Photo: Kayla Barrett

“To date, we have handled 42,000 guest refunds and 90% of those have been processed within 35 days.

“Existing and new bookings for 2020 and 2021 are covered by our ‘Coronavirus Book With Confidence Guarantee’. Between three and 28 days prior to arrival, a guest can transfer a holiday to new dates in 2020 or 2021, transfer holiday payment into a holding account to be redeemed against a future holiday or cancel the booking and receive a refund.

“In addition we have recently changed our balance payment terms so guests who are travelling up to and including Monday 27 July, and only have a final balance to pay, will not be requested to pay anything more until 14 days prior to the holiday date.”


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