A couple say their travel company has threatened them with bailiffs unless they pay for a holiday they no longer feel safe going on.
Months before the pandemic hit, in January, Leah Maybourne and Ben Johnson from Maidstone, Kent, had booked a week in Turkey through TUI.
They were due to fly to Belek in the province of Antalya on September 21 and stay in TUI’s Magic Life Masmavi five star resort.
They paid a £100 deposit at the time, but now they want to reschedule the trip amid health fears over the threat of coronavirus.
Ben Johnson and Leah Maybourne say TUI staff threatened them with bailiffs unless they pay for £2,000 holiday to Turkey they no longer feel safe going on because of coronavirus
Pictured: TUI’s Magic Life Masmavi five star resort in Turkey. TUI say an investigation will be launched into branch staff but that policy stands because the holiday has not been cancelled
Mr Johnson, a 62-year-old lorry driver, is in a vulnerable group as he suffers from asthma.
Miss Maybourne said TUI initially told her over the phone she could transfer the dates to next year free of charge but when she went into the branch, her experience was not so straight forward.
The 42-year-old said: ‘The staff told us to change the dates we would have to pay a cancellation fee of about £1,700 when the holiday was only about £2,000 in the first place.
‘The lady said if we don’t pay they will send the bailiffs round.
‘The staff in the shop were laughing at me because I said I didn’t want to go because I don’t feel safe.
‘I started having a panic attack and so we just had to leave before it got any worse.
‘I’m absolutely disgusted with the way we were treated.’
The couple say they now fear a court order coming through the door when all they wanted was the company’s help.
Leah claims staff at the branch in Maidstone threatened laughed at her when she said she feared travelling to Turkey because of the number of coronavirus cases reported recently
More than 20,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Turkey in the last 14 days but the country is not on the government’s restrict travel list.
According to Money Saving Expert’s website, if a holiday is still going ahead but you no longer wish to go, to get a refund, usually the firm needs to be the one to cancel.
It adds, if you choose to cancel yourself, there is no guarantee of any money back even with insurance.
While understanding of the changing rules, Miss Maybourne and Mr Johnson just want their deposit back after the ordeal in store.
A TUI UK spokesman said: ‘We’re very disappointed to hear of these claims and would like to apologise to the customer for their experience.
‘We will be conducting an internal investigation with our Maidstone store.
‘As the customer’s holiday is still due to operate as planned, our normal booking terms and conditions apply.’
The UK government warns that any country sustaining a level above 20 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 citizens over the course of a week is likely to be stripped of quarantine exemption.
Turkey is currently ranked 18th in the world, having recorded a total of 274,943 cases of coronavirus and 6,511 deaths.
They have recorded daily increases of at least 1,500 for the past week and the country’s health minister has warned it is going through the second peak of the first wave of the coronavirus.
According to Turkish government figures the infection rate over the past week was 11.31 per 100,000.
Last week health officials confirmed seven people on TUI flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff tested positive for coronavirus.
All passengers and crew members on board were contacted and told to self isolate for 14 days.
At the moment, all arrivals to Turkey will have to undergo a medical evaluation for symptoms of coronavirus, including a temperature check.
It is also compulsory to wear a face mask particularly on all public transport and in crowded places such as markets and shops and hairdressers.