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Crystal overbooked us in Arc1950 ten days before we fly out (now more of a trip report!)

 Poster: A snowHead
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Okay.... so!!

This has worked out even better than we could possibly have ever hoped, which makes the stress totally worth it! Although, Crystal could have acted a lot quicker (both in regards to the overbooking anyway, but also obviously in not leaving me hanging for 24 hours) but what's done is done.

Anyway, the good news is that Crystal are refunding the accommodation part, and a new place is all booked and confirmed (verbally, and in writing - they called me straight away after I made the booking) with Erna Low - thank you so much for the recommendation HellsBells! We have the very, very nice recently refurbished private four bed penthouse apartment.. and as it was on special offer, once Crystal have refunded us we'll actually have a few hundred left over!

I do want to give some credit to Crystal. Once they were actually in touch, they really were trying their best in a very human and intelligent way to resolve it. They were very prompt in calling back when they said they would once I got that initial call, and were prepared to be a lot more flexible than I expected from such a big company. The resort team also appeared to be doing a good job in trying their best to resolve matters. So as long as we get the refund, it's all good and we're happy.

A big thanks to to ArcticRoll for his help via PM - in the end we didn't need it, but if the Erna Low apartment had fallen through, it would have come in very handy.

Thank you to everyone for your words of support, ideas, and not telling me I should just Rule 5 it! snowHead

I am so excited now! What was looking increasingly like a disaster has unexpectedly turned into a blessing in disguise!
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@sparklies, sounds like an excellent result !!!
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@sparklies, hooray! Very Happy Very Happy Have a wonderful holiday.
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Quote:


Imagine having booked it DIY... and it being cancelled on you...at least they have sorted you out..


But you don't pay the TO premium for that...also you don't find yourself in the bind of having to accept their alternative, you can get searching straight away knowing the exact situation (not great I know, but having that clarity is easier than a grey area of will they part refund me or won't they).
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@sparklies, Great result. Very Happy I've used Erna Low in La Plagne too and was all good with no problems, so hopefully you'll get a great holiday. Enjoy. snowHead
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Quote:


Okay.... so!!

This has worked out even better than we could possibly have ever hoped, which makes the stress totally worth it! Although, Crystal could have acted a lot quicker (both in regards to the overbooking anyway, but also obviously in not leaving me hanging for 24 hours) but what's done is done.

Anyway, the good news is that Crystal are refunding the accommodation part, and a new place is all booked and confirmed (verbally, and in writing - they called me straight away after I made the booking) with Erna Low - thank you so much for the recommendation HellsBells! We have the very, very nice recently refurbished private four bed penthouse apartment.. and as it was on special offer, once Crystal have refunded us we'll actually have a few hundred left over!

I do want to give some credit to Crystal. Once they were actually in touch, they really were trying their best in a very human and intelligent way to resolve it. They were very prompt in calling back when they said they would once I got that initial call, and were prepared to be a lot more flexible than I expected from such a big company. The resort team also appeared to be doing a good job in trying their best to resolve matters. So as long as we get the refund, it's all good and we're happy.

A big thanks to to ArcticRoll for his help via PM - in the end we didn't need it, but if the Erna Low apartment had fallen through, it would have come in very handy.

Thank you to everyone for your words of support, ideas, and not telling me I should just Rule 5 it!

I am so excited now! What was looking increasingly like a disaster has unexpectedly turned into a blessing in disguise!


Awesome!
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Great outcome! Have a fab holiday!
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@sparklies, Well done and very happy it worked out well. Good recovery from Crystal as well and as I mentioned earlier the resort reps in January were excellent.
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Hope you have a great time, and glad it is all sorted.
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@sparklies, result Very Happy. And a great example of what can happen when you remain calm and constructive, and work with the people trying to help you rather than taking it out on them. Hopefully in another 24 hours the stress will just be a fading memory, and you'll be back into full anticipation mode. For the rest of us, all we can look forward to is the trip report afterwards wink. Enjoy your holiday!
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@sparklies, well done on a great result! I do wonder, though, if other families have been put through the mill in a similar way and didn't get such a good outcome.
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Awesome, have some nice family meals out with the dosh or buy some surprise pressies for the kids.
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Thanks all! So excited now - gone from feeling so annoyed about the whole thing to being even more excited than I was before!!

@maggi, agreed, I do wonder. I know I was not the only one. The nice lady who was dealing with me was working very late tonight trying to sort things out and I'm sure she wasn't alone in the office. If there's no accommodation, there's no accommodation, although I suspect in many cases people may well be a lot more "movable" than we were. Our problem was the childcare in resort, plus wanting space to put the children to bed (we're now in the opposite situation of them almost having a room each!!) In a lot of cases those things wouldn't apply. Also we're quite a large family so finding alternative accommodation for us is a lot harder than for smaller families as there obviously aren't as many bigger apartments around.

@mgrolf, Will definitely be doing a trip report! I forgot the last two trips (although I did the two before that!) but I owe you all now snowHead

@endoman, no doubt we will! Obviously it's self catering but it means we can justify some extra meals out now!

As for the DIY thing, I agree. I hate the unexpected which is why we've gone with TOs every time so far. But when a DIY screws up, you have a lot more control to fix it, although in this case it seems Crystal were very flexible in refunding the accommodation when it became clear I wouldn't accept the 2 bed and there was nothing else. Given the 2 bed theoretically could sleep 6, they could have been arsey about it, either forced us into it or a full holiday refund - but they weren't arsey at all and were happy to refund giving us that control back.

The other tour operator we've used is Ski Weekends for short breaks either on my own or just the one child. I've used them twice and they've done a great job both times. Now everyone will probably give me their horror stories but so far so good for us!
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@sparklies, great result! Really pleased it has all worked out for you.
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Another snowHeads Winter support group victory snowHead

Congratulations @sparklies!
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@sparklies, Excellent news, only just read this through so I've been no help, but the SH community rallied round as ever. One of life's little trials which will fade away once your on the slopes, have a great holiday its deserved!
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@sparklies, just watch out that the upgrade doesn't become the expected for future holidays. You've got a very big apartment now!

Well done and have a great time. 1950 will suit you well.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Arctic Roll, Ha, I know, right? Definitely going to make the most of it while we have it!
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Bit like the first time you fly business class, you'll never go down the back again!
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Pleased it all worked out in the end. Have a great trip!
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Good to hear that this has all worked out well

Although Crystal were clearly in the wrong, it sounds like they were let down by a supplier as well and at least they appear to have done their best to try and sort things.

DIY does have many advantages but the nice thing with the TO's is that it is their responsibility to get you from your home airport to the resort and back again. If you are DIY'ing it and your transfer get stuck in traffic and you miss your flight then you are the one who has to find another one...
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@mmgg1988, Yes, that's very true, and another reason we usually go TO with the children especially (less fussed if I get stranded on my own or with one child as it's a lot cheaper and easier to sort and it's a risk you take!) I guess the only way to be sure is to drive the whole way via the tunnel on a flexiticket if you're DIY.

Anyway, we're pleased at how Crystal (finally) handled it given it wasn't entirely their fault. But as has been mentioned, TOs probably have to take these risks and it's factored into their business plan.
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@sparklies, enjoy the holiday.
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@sparklies Great to hear that you've got this sorted, and probably come out of it better as compensation for the stress and hassle.

Reading your initial post was deja-vu for me. We were booked with Crystal for 27th Dec in Serre Chevalier and 5 days before we were due to fly out we got a call saying that our accommodation "has been over booked by our suppliers (P&V) and is not available". They offered a similar apartment in a different village in the resort, which after checking out we had little option but to accept as a subsequent call made it clear that it was the only option available (which they could have told us in the initial phone call but didn't). Not surprising for the New Year week, but I'm skeptical that Les Arcs is so fully booked in March.

Like you, we'd booked lessons, ski hire etc ourselves so had a mad panic trying to re-arrange those, especially with Xmas intervening. Credit goes to the ski hire and ski school who re-arranged our bookings in a very professional manner when they'd have been withing their rights to refuse and keep the deposits we'd paid. Crystal never even offered to help, or to cover the costs if any were incurred due to their late change of location. We did get a somewhat reluctant refund of £120 as compensation, the bare minimum as stated in their T&Cs.

As it turned out, the holiday was great. We all enjoyed ourselves and the apartment. was OK. Their resort staff, as always, were very nice and the transfer went like clockwork.

Subsequent dealings with Crystal in regards to our complaint have however been disappointing. Despite asking twice, they have completely failed to explain why not only did they not know about the 'double booking' until 5 days before we were due to arrive, but how under those circumstances it was us that were being denied the apartment when we'd booked 9 months earlier. They seemed more interested in stating that we were not due any further compensation, which I'd not asked for. I just wanted an explanation but got back 'boilerplate' replies.

It's been interesting reading through this thread that 'overbooking' seems to have been quiet a common theme with Crystal this year. They must have some rather ineffectual contracts with their suppliers. You'd think given the number of rooms they must book that they'd have a bit more 'clout' than they appear to when it comes to these situations.

The end result is that after 3 x one week skiing holidays and a two week trip to Austria with them in the last 3 years we've decided we'll not be booking with them again. We got caught up in the 'great transfer day c**k-up' between Xmas and New Year a couple of years ago. That in itself was somewhat of a farce from Crystal, involving us arriving in resort a day late after spending the night on the floor of the Municiple Hall in Albertville, but we'd given them the benefit of the doubt on that one because the weather gods can torture anyone. The recent mess up though was entirely under their control despite trying to pass the blame onto 'suppliers'.

The bad news, financially at least, is that the whole farce has led us to trade in our caravan against a Motorhome, which we should take ownership of in July. All subsequent holiday c**k-ups will therefore be entirely our own fault. Planning is already well underway to find likely resorts where we can park up and ski, smaller resorts now being in the frame, as well as multi-resort holidays. Oh, and less pre-ski-hol stressing about snow conditions as it'll be much easier to change plans to head to where the snow is best. Oh, and no need to stick to Sat/Sun holiday starts, or fixed 7 day holiday schedules.

As a great patriot once said, I think it was Mel Gibson, "Crystal may take our pre-booked accommodation, but they'll never take our freedom!!!".
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I'm glad your holiday went okay, although I can totally see why you were disappointed in the lack of support over transferring things over - I don't blame you. And getting boilerplate responses to a perfectly reasonable question - it sounds like they were stonewalling you because they didn't want to admit they'd screwed up and could do so again. As you say, why haven't they got more clout?!

I can't say I blame you for getting the motorhome! What a brilliant idea. If we didn't have so many children I'd consider it myself. We do camping sometimes here in the UK but somehow I am not quite up for camping in, say, Les Arcs in the middle of March. Can't think why.

I won't feel home and dry until we get all the paperwork back from Crystal and the refund in our bank account. I'm already anticipating problems - I just checked our new booking reference and there's lots of stuff missing like our ski hire, passes and lessons, and even without them, the numbers are all wrong (not in our favour by a long shot) so I'm hoping that's just a temporary glitch and people are working on it. I was told "24 hours" so we'll see. I imagine it's pretty complicated given they had to effectively pull the all inclusive package apart.

We'd only get £60 under their T&Cs. Doesn't seem fair.
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@Ravelin, Good for you! 'Though we took our caravan skiing when our 3 boys were children we met many folk with a motorhome! I loved the freedom! And the knowledge that whatever happened we had a comfy, warm bed, hot food/drinks and a toilet! lol. On that night of the snowmeggedon I believe you are referencing, I mentioned (more than once to my husband who eventually got irritated lol) that it would have been good to have the caravan in tow so that I could use the facilities! However we were enroute between Morzine and La Tania between booked chalet accommodation. We made it without having to use designated emergency accommodation in town halls etc purely because we were in our car, transport diy, and had good maps and access to traffic updates on the internet and radio. I was genuinely, but perhaps naively, surprised at how young, inexperienced and un-knowledgeable of local roads transport drivers bringing others to our chalet/resort (who arrived the following day, having been trapped in various places) appeared to be and how totally unprepared for heavy snowfall many drivers of all nationalities were!

@sparklies, I very pleased for you that you have accommodation sorted! Have a good time Very Happy I don`t know how many children you have but don`t let the concept of 'camping' in the snow put you off. I truly thought my husband was mad when he first proposed it, but I loved every minute of it. Very Happy
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A quick update!

Crystal have indeed refunded us the amount promised (phew!) although there were a couple of slightly concerning administrative errors along the way but they were easily fixed.

Unfortunately it's still not a tale of redemption because I thought I'd double check directly with the childcare/ski school they book in 1950 that all that was as Crystal had promised.

To recap - when I booked the holiday I was sure I'd chosen ski + lunch + childcare for the children on Crystal's site. Last month they asked me why I was booking skis for them all if they weren't going to be skiing! Credit due, they did at least spot that. Apparently there is NO option as described (why? surely it's what most people would want?) on their website to book, and I'd only booked full day childcare - however I am sure I would not have made a mistake like that. I've got no way of proving either way though because obviously the website has long since been updated. Anyhow, they said they'd sort it, book them into ski school etc, cancel the morning childcare. Good.

However, they didn't, according to the childcare/ski school place. So I emailed Crystal as a matter of urgency yesterday lunchtime and have yet to receive a reply. Going to have to call them, but given they confirmed it was sorted verbally last time and not in writing I am wary of that route.

Honestly, I am done with this. They made a huge administrative muck up last time we went with them too over our Eurostar booking - the whole point of paying the TO premium is to reduce stress and worry. That's three major issues in two bookings. Our next holiday will be some other way even if we did come out on top (hopefully!) for this one.

@CaravanSkier, I missed your reply! We have four children, so that kind of rules out most caravans unfortunately otherwise that would be brilliant. We just have a massive tent!!
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sparklies wrote:
A quick update!


@CaravanSkier, I missed your reply! We have four children, so that kind of rules out most caravans unfortunately otherwise that would be brilliant. We just have a massive tent!!


lol yep 4 children in a caravan may be a bit much with all the ski kit, although they do make caravans big enough to sleep 6. With our 3 boys we did tow a large twin axle and found it useful to have a winter awning.

We also woke up one morning in a very snowy Samoens to find a tent pitched next to us! Shocked Laughing But I really don`t think I could have handled that!
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@sparklies, So nice to hear something upbeat......go and have a fabulous time Smile
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@Swissie, Thanks!!

@CaravanSkier, It would be!! Plus I'd hate the thought of towing a caravan that size up the mountains.. I'm unhappy enough about driving up that I've not done it yet! Also the ground would be so hard for the pegs for a tent.. no way!
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Delighted for you sparklies, glad it worked out well. We always do diy, so I was of no help. But I was hoping it would all work out. Enjoy your trip, have a blast, and treat yourselves with the little bit of cash that is left over.
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we have just booked direct with radisson blu for a week for 25th march and it cost 1463 euros. We are getting a two bed apartment. There were one beds available. In fact booking it last minute and diy is actually saving us nearly 600 quid as last year we went with crystal and booked way over a year in advance. this less than 2 weeks to go it is working out alot cheaper. Sunweb has loads of good offers to 1950 incl lift passes. The only thing we have had to compromise on is that we are having to drive there with an overnight stop the night before, but all in all it is saving loads of money. If you also go on to les arcs reservations they are also offering the same accommodation, but for a mere 3 or 4 euros extra. So there are apartments left, but I guess not for Crystal allocations. To be honest aswell, we went with Crystal last year and never saw a rep once apart from the bus journey there and back.
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@sparklies, Skiset is on the ground floor of the building you've ended up in. If you look at the street from the 'Clocher' webcam, it's behind the big tree on the left! Precision for boots is about 20 yds further up the street, on the other side of the piste

http://www.arc1950.com/en/live-from-the-village-webcams-weather.html


You are right, there is a lot of "cross branding" between the various hire shops in 1950 and 2000 (one might be tempted to say 'a cartel', but that would surely be pejorative...)

Enjoy!
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@biddpyat, Thanks!! Very Happy

@Joey, That sounds similar to what we will probably do next year, as soon as apartments become available. On paper (and from my day trip to Les Arcs a few years back where we really enjoyed the skiing) this seems like the ideal resort for us at this stage in our lives, so most likely we'll book again for next year. It'll have to be Easter though as oldest has her SATS, alas. Erna Low have been very good to us so far, so we might try them for accommodation at least. They seem to let you pick which bits you want from them which is good.

We did see quite a few Crystal people on our last two trips, but then we were using their childcare. This time out I would be surprised as it's not their childcare and we're not in their accommodation now!!

@Arctic Roll, that's insanely convenient for picking up the skis! Our first family holiday in La Plagne, and we were staying in a P&V self-catering apartment right at the top, and the ski hire ship was the Skiset halfway down. Lugging all that gear up with children who refused to carry much.. bad memories. It was the same again in Tignes - chalet right near the top in Le Lac, ski hire shop right at the bottom. Hmm.

Thank you for pointing me in the right direction for Precision! I'll see if they can do anything with my boots to begin with as, well, stupidly convenient Very Happy This is why I think we may well be coming back to 1950 a lot over the next few years..
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The reality is in my experience (not just of ski holidays) is that doing DIY is no less reliable and stressful than going with TO's. That's not to say don't use them just don't be scared of DIY or think that your TO will get everything right and/or babysit you the whole way.

In fact, I would even extend that thought or logic into the rest of life. Cutting out middle men and brokers often means you have a bit more responsibility but equalling you know exactly what is going on and are in control. One of things I always like to do when arranging/buying stuff on the internet is to trace who is the end service provider and what the middle men are contributing. Sometimes they do contribute and are useful but other times you realise they are not and it's better to bypass them.
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@Layne, Absolutely. The first time we went skiing there was no way I would have felt confident enough to DIY, and that's where TOs are useful. But I'm on my fifth or sixth trip now, this is our third family one, and I really don't think the TOs are offering anything we can't do ourselves by now. I'm somebody that likes to feel in control and I don't like things suddenly going wrong - I naively thought by using a TO I would avoid unfixable problems but nope - in the end it was unfixable by them and I had to fix it myself anyway. As you say, with DIY at least you have the power to fix it yourself. Not sitting around waiting for phone calls and stressing.
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Horses for courses but I vowed last year that I would never go with Crystal again. Utter shambles. Not sure about other TO's (the only other ski one we used was even worse), so it's independent all the way for us. I'm sure there would be a queue of people who say they are fine though. Glad you are sorted sparklies; have a fab time.
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@bambionskiis, Thanks! It looks like it's going to be an amazing week with the fresh snowfall and the lovely apartment! snowHead

In fact having a disaster with a TO is even worse than a DIY disaster as you have to factor in dealing with the TO as you try and fix the sorry mess yourself. Looks like they'll all have their ski lessons though - the ski school/childcare place has sorted it all out with me directly. Still haven't heard from Crystal despite asking for them to deal with it asap yesterday.. surprise!
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In the early days we booked with TOs as that is how our friends travelled (in fact a lot of the time they still do) and we were going with them . A few years in and we booked to go to La Plagne, organising ferry accommodation and overnight stops ourselves, and we've more or less done that ever since, with an occasional exception of a last minute bargain deal at Easter. I don't like the lack of control I have with a TO. You are at their mercy, as @sparklies, has discovered.
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@sparklies, as I said before, that's what I found too. Re-arranging the ski hire, lessons etc that we'd booked ourselves was much easier than dealing with Crystal and their messed up accommodation.

It'll all be worth it when you've arrived, kids are in bed and you're sat with a glass of wine.

That's until the first morning that is, when you'll be surrounded by kids and various items of ski clothing and gear trying to work out who goes with what, and more importantly who's been to the loo before heading off for lessons etc. Toofy Grin

Enjoy!
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