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Skiing Europe/Chris Reynard - Children's ski holiday left in ruins.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Tonbridge Grammar School had to cancel friday as well due to Skiing Europe having no hotel booked for the children just about to leave Kent for Switzerland.

Say no more !!

http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/Head-seeks-legal-advice-ski-trip-cancelled/article-3245955-detail/article.html


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 21-02-11 18:29; edited 2 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Interesting link posted in the comments:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/10year-ban-for-ski-instructor-who-risked-childrens-lives-706746.html

Looks like he didn't waste any time getting up to his old tricks
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Quote:

Tonbridge Grammar School had to cancel late friday as well.
Puzzled Puzzled Puzzled As well as what or whom?
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So the school certainly did a good job of 'due diligence' on the company before booking and handing over the money.
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mountainaddict wrote:
Quote:

Tonbridge Grammar School had to cancel late friday as well.
Puzzled Puzzled Puzzled As well as what or whom?


Presumably "as well as" Tavistock College mentioned in the linked article?

It does seem strange that a school would be dealing with someone with such a record - one of the comments states he was on Devon CC's approved supplier list, though, which would be odder, still.
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It certainly looks from reports like the companies directors are at fault, the fact that it's not just one school being affected seems to indicate some very dodgy dealings going on, especially as there are reports that at least one hotel and one coach company had not even received deposits I understand why teh schools felt they had to cancel, god alone knows how they are going to sort out refunds for the kids that should have gone
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bar shaker wrote:
So the school certainly did a good job of 'due diligence' on the company before booking and handing over the money.


or even a google or go to the providers home page - http://www.skiing-europe.com/ so ghastly you'd run a mile in the other direction...
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Some frequent use of the SCGB logo on that website. Can we assume they endorse the business? wink

BTW I can only assume that Alexander Designs were having a laugh when they designed the site. Tavistock College sound like utter muppets . Caveat Emptor.
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Quote:

So the school certainly did a good job of 'due diligence' on the company before booking and handing over the money.

Looking at their brochure I can see no reference to them being members of ABTA. Flights are ATOL bonded (albeit through Trailfinders) but my understanding is that unless there is a flight involved then the ATOL bonding is of no benefit. IMHO, a school (or any other organisation) that books a holiday, gets money from people and hands it over to a third party without making sure the money is secure is acting (at best) recklessly. If I am wrong and they are bonded then I withdraw my comments.
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I can foresee all manner of insurance nasties surrounding this, especially when you consider the company involved...and the person seemingly at the helm. I would waste no time in pursuing the school and the trip organizer. This smacks of a failure of 'duty of care' along with a complete lack of 'due diligence'. There are very substantial sums involved here,and I would task the school with being the custodian of these funds....and ultimately responsible.Neither the parents,or kids,chose the TO...the school did;and I would look to the school for recompense.In other terms,"they" are the lead name...and it is up to them to seek a refund,either from the company or insurance.
But,of course,this won't happen.Teachers are very adept at apologetic hand wringing.....whilst quickly batting responsibility elsewhere rolling eyes In my experience(and I have 3 kids)the very first thing they learn at Teacher Training....................

When it all goes well,take the credit......When not,blame someone else Sad

Feel for all those caught up in this. This holiday is lost,there only hope now is to get all their money back....and then some?
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Quote:

there only hope now is to get all their money back....and then some?

why would they expect to get back more than they paid? You can't sue somebody for damages you've not sustained, can you?
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It seems the headteacher was a prat to make such a decision and I suspect a non skier. If the headplonker was a skier she would have went ahead with the trip without any qualms. Sounds a case of envy to me.
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Assassin Creed wrote:
It seems the headteacher was a prat to make such a decision and I suspect a non skier. If the headplonker was a skier she would have went ahead with the trip without any qualms. Sounds a case of envy to me.


Don't be daft. rolling eyes You can't just send off a load of children for whom you are responsible if you do not know for certain that their accommodation is secured. Whatever might be said about the school's original choice of TO, if the situation at the last moment was that the school did not have secure confirmation of where the pupils were to be accommodated, there was little choice for the headteacher.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
£800 per person? Where are they going, Courchevel 1850 for a Russian party?

Sounds like bad planning, dealing with an unreliable company that a quick Google would have flagged up issues with, and a nightmare as a result for parents and teachers to deal with.

The fallout from it however is that they are likely to find future trips in jeopardy as result of it - which is a bad thing. Less kids holidays, less skiiers for the future, less positive experience for the kids. What parent in their right mind would pay another £800 next year and back the same people who organised this one?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
pam w wrote:
You can't sue somebody for damages you've not sustained, can you?

Maybe..maybe not?I'm not qualified to say.But I would certainly be putting intense pressure on the school/trip organizer to get it sorted.They,IMV,now have a continuing duty of care to sort this debarcle out.I simply would not accept them putting any onus on 'me' to claim.They organized the trip,co-ordinated the payments and took the original decision as to the TO.Its their mess...its for them to sort IMV.
We all know companies can collapse,but I don't believe that's the case here? As far as I can see,the TO failed in its financial obligations to its suppliers(or so its alleged)and that led ultimately to the cancellation.The school clearly displayed poor judgement in its choice of TO...as is obvious from a simple Google search!
No,its time to 'man up',accept their share of responsibility,and sort it double quick.
The kids will be devastated.They will have waited the best part of 12mths for this trip...they should be there now!! Don't make the parents suffer as well.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Monium wrote:
What parent in their right mind would pay another £800 next year and back the same people who organised this one?

Been there....done that wink
My son went on a school ski trip,and enjoyed a massive stroke of luck!! My fear,as he was already a very competant skier,was that he would be stuck on the nursery slopes for the week....and bored out of his skull Sad But he wanted to go with his school chums.
As luck would have it,he,along with a couple of other competant lads,were plucked out of the group by a young instructor.....who also dreaded a week with the newbies Laughing He had a brilliant time doing all sorts of knarly stuff...brought his off piste skills on in leaps and bounds Toofy Grin But this was sheer luck.
School trips,in the main,are for the first timers....their first taste of the mountain.Most will only ever do one trip(with the school)and they can be excellent if run properly.

My daughter had the offer of a trip to Austria....and decided herself not to go.Again,a competant skier,she said there was no way she was going to spend a week ploughing around plastic cones!!
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snowskisnow wrote:
The school clearly displayed poor judgement in its choice of TO...as is obvious from a simple Google search!
.


It's amazing how quickly judgements are being made in this thread on the basis of very little knowledge of facts - but this is an internet forum so what's new. wink Even more remarkable is the speed with which a harsh condemnation is being made of the school concerned which- on the reported information so far available - booked this trip with a company which its local authority had on its approved list because "it met all the criteria" and which does not show up on a "simple Google search" as being unreliable. If snowskisnow can point me to a Google result which shows I am wrong, I'lll be happy to back down, but I can't find one. In short, it looks as if this and another school have been totally let down by Skiing-Europe so why not turn some of the venom on to it rather than the school which having made this difficult decision seems again from what is reported to be taking its responsibilities in the matter as seriously as anyone can ask? Or are schools just such easy targets?


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Wed 23-02-11 11:47; edited 1 time in total
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ccl, it's amazing how quickly you made that judgements - I never said that at all!
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Sorry about that Pam. I must have done something odd in trying to quote snowskisnow, that ended up with the quotation being wrongly ascribed to you. All in pure technical innocence Little Angel

It's fixed now.
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ccl, A simple google finds the company website which looks thoroughly amateurish and displays logos particularly of the SCGB (to enhance credibility?) which may be in itself a misuse. It's not hard to see who the boss is and a further 10secs on google leads to TES & other articles (including Hansard) connecting him to the Lyme Bay tragedy, disqualification as a company director and a false advertising charge. When commiting £1000s of parents' money does not that sound like 60 secs work well spent? At what point should alarm bells start to ring prior to the date of departure?

Maybe we should add Devon CC sound like utter muppets as well? Maybe he's a rehabilitated character who deserves a punt with lots of families' money?
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Fair enough fatbob, and I have followed the same trail but that was hindsighted wisdom acquired only through the articles referred to in this thread. Consider the number of schools of colleges which have travelled with this company in the past 10 years or whatever it is and presumably did not do such a search nor were suspicious of the website. Were they at fault? I wonder how many schools seek out the names and credentials of the directors of Skibound, Skiplan or whatever other better known companies are around before booking (my goodness, how out of touch with the names I have become since I retired). How many of us do this for Thomson or Crystal or whatever for our personal holidays? Maybe all this should be done and arguably Devon CC should have included something like that in their checks before accrediting the company as an approved supplier. The point made above about the absence of an ABTOL logo is significant but is it it credible that a local authority would not have that as one of its criteria? I know for sure that were I the Headteacher of that school I would be very very angry with Devon Council. It is reasonable to argue that the school did not need to do these searches etc because the supplier was on the local authority approved list which implies that all necessary checks had already been done and it would be a waste of valuable staff time to repeat them. That is the sort of saving of time that should be an important function of a local authority. Perhaps then, if criticism is justified regarding pre-booking checks, it should be directed solely at the Council, not at the school?

I'm just exploring thoughts, not taking stances in this, but I still think the attacks on the school are harsh and difficult in many respects to justify especially given the local authority's approval of the company. Knowing something of Skiing Europe, I will simply say that regarding the situation that arose, I am unsurprised.
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snowskisnow wrote:
Teachers are very adept at apologetic hand wringing.....whilst quickly batting responsibility elsewhere rolling eyes In my experience(and I have 3 kids)the very first thing they learn at Teacher Training....................

When it all goes well,take the credit......When not,blame someone else Sad


Snowheads never ceases to amaze me... and sometimes not in a good way.. rolling eyes

Idiocy and prejudice aside, from what very little we know from the article and comments, and if (big if) these are accurate:

-School uses company approved by county council (if there is really an "approved" scheme then why should the school go about checking the company agin, surely the issue is with the council?)
-School gets phone call from hotel to say no deposit received, no rooms booked
-School calls TO which is unable to confirm deposit/rooms have been paid
-School gets call from hotel again saying rooms reservation is cancelled.
-School cancels trip.

I don't see where the school has failed in its duty of care?
The question I suppose, and going back to an earlier point, is how did the TO end up being approved by the council? What is the approval process? Was the TO approved despite the knowledge of the director dubious past or in ignorance of it? Does the TO has a good record despite its director?

It's a good thing summary trials, public hangings and pillorys are a thing of the past... It's a shame people feel the need to replace all of it with modern technology..


PS: As an aside, from someone I know, the TO's handling of its employees seems just as chaotic as its trips

Edit: I should type quicker, ccl, said it all before me.. Embarassed


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Wed 23-02-11 16:11; edited 1 time in total
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Quote:

-School uses company approved by county council (if there is really an "approved" scheme then why should the school go about checking the company agin, surely the issue is with the council?)
-School gets phone call from hotel to say no deposit received, no rooms booked
-School calls TO which is unable to confirm deposit/rooms have been paid
-School gets call from hotel again saying rooms reservation is cancelled.
-School cancels trip.

I don't see where the school has failed in its duty of care?

+1

Quote:

It's a good thing summary trials, public hangings and pillorys are a thing of the past.

The La Rosiere thread suggests there are one or two posters here who would enjoy them, too.
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Quote:

-School uses company approved by county council (if there is really an "approved" scheme then why should the school go about checking the company agin, surely the issue is with the council?)

This misses the point. Since when has a county council operated a bonding scheme? There are 2 effective holiday bonding schemes in existence. ATOL would not appear to apply (no flights involved) and the TO would not appear to be ABTA bonded. The purpose of these schemes is to remove a lot of the risk of losing deposits or even entire holidays. If the parents had known that there was no bonding in place (and assuming I am right in saying this) I am sure the parents would have asked the school to use another TO. To lose a holiday is a big disappointment for the kids. To lose all your money is negligent. If I was one of the parents I know where I would be pointing a finger, and I do not normally subscribe to the blame culture that is over running this country.
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 'bonding' issue is neither here or there as the company in question is still trading ?
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Quote:

Since when has a county council operated a bonding scheme?

Puzzled who said they operated a bonding scheme?
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Chris Mason,
I think you're the one missing the point. If the county council runs some sort of TO approval scheme for schools yo refer to, as alluded to in the OP's link, then it's the council's responsability, and not the school's, to check the TO's suitability/affiliations/reputation etc... where the responsibility may lie is the point I was making (in response to people saying the school failed the kids).


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Wed 23-02-11 21:33; edited 1 time in total
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Yes the council should have checked the companies and the schools should be able to rely on the council to provide a suitable TO.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
SE cancelled their Teachers and Friends trip to Interlaken at New year at relatively short notice because the hotel cancelled their booking. Clearly there is more to this than meets the eye. It's such a shame for the students. Getting their money back looks less than straight forward.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Some of the stuff in the company's online brochure can, at best, best be described as bizarre - for example:

In our view it is a nonsense to talk of a "beginners" resort as being best for beginners. True it probably isn't any good for anyone else, but generally a small resort will have just one nursery area, usually South-facing and usually extremely worn and often icy. We maintain that it is very important to have more than one area for beginners and if possible some North-facing slopes where snow is more likely to be good and soft. The people who are least able to cope with ice (beginners) are sadly those who most often have to encounter it.

Another most important point is that in the great resorts there are usually very long runs available for beginners, a feature which is usually totally missing in the very small resorts, virtually by definition. We feel that it is an important part of a beginner's pleasure that they are able to experience the same thrills as the intermediate and advanced skiers, to make a "journey" on skis from point A to point B. Skiing's great irony is that resorts labelled "beginners' resorts" are usually resorts most unsuited to beginners. Another argument is quite simply that so often if there is a lack of snow, it will be the small low-lying resorts that are hit.

WTF Puzzled Shocked
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 Poster: A snowHead
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GreyCat, from the scattered reports I've seen the Interlaken Hotel had not received the deposits from Skiing Europe, elsewhere another trip was cancelled because the Bus Company had not received payment from Skiing Europe, either there is a financial problem with Skiing Europe, or someone there is incompetent when it comes to paying bills, of course that could be the same thing.

Any way you look at this something is wrong, Tavistock, Reading and Tonbridge schools have all had to cancel trips at the last minute all with similar stories, Skiing Europe has in one article said that the Original hotel in Interlaken had cancelled the booking but that they had alternative accommodation arranged, however they don't say what that is, in another article they say that the hotel was ready and waiting, each school has paid upwards of £80,000 so Skiing Europe has around £250,000 and the schools have no holidays and according to the hotel and coach company they have not received payment
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Doesn't surprise me. I know of one coach company that will only contract to Skiing Europe if it is paid in full in advance.
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So you want some facts -

AITO standard reference point - 7. Their marketing information, whether brochure or web-based, must reflect the high standards expected of AITO members.
Web quote http://www.skiing-europe.com/about.htm - CHRIS REYNARD is a BASI qualified instructor of long standing.
This person is qualified through BASI as an Alpine Level 2 Instructor, however he is not a current member of the Association and does not hold a current BASI license to instruct.

Kind regards

Debbie
Sent: 22 February 2011 12:42
To: Debbie Khadi
Subject: RE: Web Contact - RE:checking an instructor

Thanks Debbie
Christopher Paul Reynard
Date of birth 10-08-1954 Evil or Very Mad
___________________________________________________
Trailfinders – the Director of Trailfinders confirmed they have no association and would never book on behalf of any tour operator. They have asked for the reference on the web site to be removed and the brochure withdrawn.
Puzzled

______________________________________________________
Skiing Europe is not eregistered with Data Potection office but works with school children Puzzled
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From an "employee" writing to a client who is listed and registered as a testimonial client for Skiing Europe Evil or Very Mad - SE

As we have either worked with you in the past, or because we were told by the SE office that we would be working with you this year, we are writing to you now, to advise you of the situation that has been unfolding concerning ski holidays for February half-term and for Easter.

[to coincide with Mr Reynard appointment as Director Twisted Evil ] For over a month now, we have received telephone calls from hoteliers, agents, suppliers and individuals due to provide accomodation, ski-hire, ski-passes and ski-instruction to say that either they still haven't been paid for services supplied to SE in 2010, or that they have not received contracts, deposits for advance payments for services to be supplied in 2011, agreed with SE, or information to enable them to organise such services in advance of school groups arriving in resorts.

This week we have discovered that every single hotel supposedly booked for groups in Italy will not accept them, as they have not received contracts and advance payments due. The other suppliers will also not be able to provide their services, as they too require payment in advance. The deadlines for such payments was yesterday. No monies have been received.

Furthermore, we also know that some schools have been contacted by SE, requesting further payments - despite the fact that they have already paid in full for their ski holidays this season. Some have been asked to pay again for hotels, others for ski-hire and ski-passes, some have even been asked to pay for coach hire. Some have reluctantly agreed to do so, others have not and some are threatening SE with legal action.

We have been asking for information and clarification from the SE office for months, but were asked to 'hold' on contacting any schools, until all the arrangements for their ski-trips were finalised. To date we have received no confirmation that any such arrangements were in place, despite the fact that some groups are due to leave the UK for Italy on Saturday February 19th.

Yesterday we discovered that these problems affect not only groups booked for ski-holidays in Italy, but also some groups booked for Switzerland and Austria as well. Thus the breadth and scale of the problems are far greater than previously suspected. In these circumstances we felt we had no option but to contact you all, in case you are likely to be affected.

Yours sincerely
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D G Orf wrote:
GreyCat, from the scattered reports I've seen the Interlaken Hotel had not received the deposits from Skiing Europe, elsewhere another trip was cancelled because the Bus Company had not received payment from Skiing Europe, either there is a financial problem with Skiing Europe, or someone there is incompetent when it comes to paying bills, of course that could be the same thing.

Any way you look at this something is wrong, Tavistock, Reading and Tonbridge schools have all had to cancel trips at the last minute all with similar stories, Skiing Europe has in one article said that the Original hotel in Interlaken had cancelled the booking but that they had alternative accommodation arranged, however they don't say what that is, in another article they say that the hotel was ready and waiting, each school has paid upwards of £80,000 so Skiing Europe has around £250,000 and the schools have no holidays and according to the hotel and coach company they have not received payment


There is very much wrong. Read more http://readingschoolskitrip.blogspot.com/2011/02/reading-school-cancelled-skip-trip-2011.html Sad


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Mon 28-02-11 17:42; edited 1 time in total
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david@mediacopy wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 'bonding' issue is neither here or there as the company in question is still trading ?


No holiday went ahead because it was SO UNSAFE. Embarassed
The school cancels and the stringent terms of cancellation say 60% held back and any monies paid in advance are taken as deposit. So that means deposit is deposit and any other monies counts too! kerching!
TO - well no one is really sure if the money is off to Mr Reynard as a sole trader or a TO at this point. lets assume a TO...Trading as Christopher Paul Reynard, Iwona Reynard, [mod action: personal address removed - no mater what you may think of an individual, please remember privacy issues and the Data Protection Act.]
TO says the hotel was booked [the hotel owner confirmed they were booked full months ago - not by the TO]
The TO cries foul that the coaches were booked. [they werent]
The TO cries the staff are booked and paid for [staff they are moaning on a number of blogs about not being paid] Incidentially an instructor who is not paid is what - a random adult - taking a bunch of school children down the slope with no insurance, cover or right of contract? Shocking administration as the TO can walk away if anything goes wrong and leave the instructor on their own.
The TO says insurance is in place - it is - but not for the right cover.
The TO says they use another TO - denied by the Director of the brand name TO
Ski instructors in Europe are actively writing to ex-clients to warn them of SE

The is beautifully clever. There is no holiday so no bond. Parents are out of pocket and dont really want to hunt down teachers and schoolmasters...in the meantime spread the word.
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noskitrip wrote:
Parents are out of pocket and dont really want to hunt down teachers and schoolmasters...in the meantime spread the word.


But they can ask rather serious and testing questions of the staff and management involved in vendor selection. No reason they shouldn't be given a hard time.
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noskitrip, Sorry if my post was unclear.

What I was trying to say was, it's my understanding (as a member of the general public) that these 'bonds' are designed to pay out if the company in question goes bust. When I wrote the post it seemed that the company in question was\is still trading so that circumstance doesn't apply.

I fully understand why the trip was cancelled given the information the school received and I wonder if there is an instance of a trip being turned away from a hotel on arrival.

In terms of who the contract was with, and therefore who was in receipt of the funds, there must be documentation specifying who was to provide the 'service' ie the Ltd company or the Individual ?

I'd imagine your best bet is to argue breach of contract and request a full refund. If you can find an instance of a trip being turned away from accommodation that would help your case.
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noskitrip wrote:
Incidentially an instructor who is not paid is what - a random adult - taking a bunch of school children down the slope with no insurance, cover or right of contract? Shocking administration as the TO can walk away if anything goes wrong and leave the instructor on their own.


I have absolutely no intention of defending Skiing Europe - I have worked for them in the past and refused, thank goodness, to work for them again this season - but would reassure noskitrip on this issue. It took me many emails and six months to extract payment from SE for a week's instruction last season but being paid late doesn't make any difference to an instructor's status at the time of working. You do not in any case expect to be paid till after you have done the job - which is common to most employment and that doesn't make you any less a qualified, licensed instructor contracted to do a job. As to insurance, the insurance of the children for accidents etc is nothing to with the instructor. I make sure I have my personal insurance in place and also am insured against professional liability. In other words, you should feel you can depend upon a licensed instructor to provide a totally professional service to the clients regardless of any issues he/she may later have about extracting payment from the employer.
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I feel very sorry for the hundreds of children involved. Some parents booked to go away whilst their children went with the schools and also had to cancel their holidays.
As a school ski trip organiser I have to say that skiing europe's website is appaling, but if they are on the list of local authority approved tour operators, schools cannot really be blamed for using them.
I've been following this story for the last week as I know of some people involved, and one of the schools swapped from using a large, well-known operator, to using skiing europe. Having been badly let down by a well-known company, who altered our booking and put some of our party in a basic B&B some distance away, size is no guarentee of quality...
The reason party leaders choose skiing europe, and the other companies that Chris Reynard has run for the last 30 years, is because he gives them incentives like; free inspection weeks (not weekends), lots of 'free' places (1:8 ratio by air when 1:10 is usual, 1:6 by coach when 1:8 is normal) and 'free' places for party leader's partner and 2 children! Of course none of this is 'free' - the children/their parents pay for it, which is why a week in a hostel, by coach, organised by his third rate outfit costs £900... You don't always get what you pay for...
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