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

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Shimmy Alcott wrote:
Quote:

btw 'he' never cancelled any trips


I dont think that is true. The schools paid for a specific holiday, in many cases Skiing Europe did not honour those original bookings as he was changing transport and hotels, resorts and even Countries. Thus the school could either go with the new holiday or should get a full refund. There has been no refunds. Also I know of one school that he turned up to and said there was no holiday and he had no money to fund one.


I am not saying that schools did not have the right to cancel, but that is very very different to say SE/CR cancelled.

edit - a few quotes from schools etc

Tavistock College's abandoned half-term holiday to Switzerland. Headteacher Helen Salmon said she scrapped the trip for more than 100 pupils amid safety fears. She said there was uncertainty from tour operator Skiing Europe that a hotel was booked.

You will appreciate from the Headmaster’s letter that, firstly, it was Reading School which cancelled the ski trip, not the tour operator. We understand from Skiing Europe that all arrangements for the trip had been confirmed and were in place, and that some 1,000 children from other schools are currently at a variety of ski resorts on their school trips.

Thirty-three girls and five teachers from Tonbridge Grammar School had spent a year gearing up for the Pounds 800 trip organised by Devon-based tour operator Skiing Europe. But on Friday, the group of 16-to-18-year-olds were told by head teacher Rosemary Joyce that the holiday had been scrapped. Mrs Joyce was worried Skiing Europe could not guarantee arrangements were in place and is now taking legal advice over the situation.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sat 14-05-11 14:03; edited 2 times in total
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ccl wrote:
Keeping on repeating speculation isn't going to make it fact. rolling eyes


well please enlighten me as to which school ski trips SE/CR cancelled ? Most reports from the schools themselevs say that we (the school) had no option but to cancel. Even you have said that yourself on here.
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Shimmy Alcott, I do not disagree what i do disagree with are the intelectual snobs that feel that it is OK to try and put somebody down for excercising their right to free speech
Quote:

Keeping on repeating speculation isn't going to make it fact. rolling eyes

Quote:

accusations, no.

Take the time to read the whole thread again, accusations by the boat load!

Yes lots of people have lost holidays and parents are out of pocket but as stated nobody has been proven to have broken the law as yet and until such time as that is proven then it is all just gossip on a website as well informed or well meaning that may be.
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leedsunited, Of all the words you could have spelled wrong, you choose "intellectual" wink
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Kel wrote:
leedsunited, Of all the words you could have spelled wrong, you choose "intellectual" wink


Bloomin eye pads wink
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rayscoops wrote:
ccl wrote:
Keeping on repeating speculation isn't going to make it fact. rolling eyes


well please enlighten me as to which school ski trips SE/CR cancelled ? Most reports from the schools themselevs say that we (the school) had no option but to cancel. Even you have said that yourself on here.


No thanks, I won't since that would simply be going over the same things again - which is what I was trying to say in the first place.
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leedsunited, Does passing bouncing cheques count as breaking the law (I always believed it did) in which case SE has definitely broken the law in Austria.

In addition by sending children to a resort without first informing the guardians where they were going SE broke the law.

Finally by sending people to alternate locations without giving them the opportunity to cancel the trip and obtain a full refund I believe SE also broke the law.

Note just because SE or CR have not been convicted does not mean they didn't break the law merely that no prosecution has as yet taken place.

I believe only one school (can't remember which one without perusing 30 odd pages which I don't have time to do) actually got CR to admit that he had not made any bookings for accomodation or transportation for their holiday despite having been paid in full, if I remember correctly that head took the unusual action of considering taking a holiday with SE next year as a direct replacement, perhaps CR persuaded him it was a good alternative I have no idea, I certainly wouldn't have believed him given the circumstances.

rayscoops,
Quote:

You will appreciate from the Headmaster’s letter that, firstly, it was Reading School which cancelled the ski trip, not the tour operator. We understand from Skiing Europe that all arrangements for the trip had been confirmed and were in place, and that some 1,000 children from other schools are currently at a variety of ski resorts on their school trips.


I think that was a statement from the insurer or possibly the bonding company, they seem to have taken no account of the evidence the schools had that hotels had not been booked and accepted at face value SE's statement that hotels and transport were in place, despite SE being unable to provide any evidence to the schools that such bookings existed.
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D G Orf,
Quote:

Does passing bouncing cheques count as breaking the law (I always believed it did) in which case SE has definitely broken the law in Austria.

If you are saying that it is breaking the law in Austria i cannot comment but i do know that i have never heard of anybody being charged with a criminal offence of bouncing a cheque in the UK. If you can point me to an example i would be very interested.

Quote:

In addition by sending children to a resort without first informing the guardians where they were going SE broke the law.

Finally by sending people to alternate locations without giving them the opportunity to cancel the trip and obtain a full refund I believe SE also broke the law.


What you believe and what is fact should not be confused that should be decided in court and unless we have visibility of SE's T&C's i dont think we are able to comment.

I am not defending SE in any way here just that there are those that have made it there sole aim to destroy him which is fine by me but IMO are not armed with all the facts.
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leedsunited wrote:
......If you are saying that it is breaking the law in Austria i cannot comment but i do know that i have never heard of anybody being charged with a criminal offence of bouncing a cheque in the UK. If you can point me to an example i would be very interested......


Well, the CAB (supported by Nationwide) say it's criminal

Quote:
If you hand over a cheque knowing that the bank or building society won't pay the amount, that is, it will bounce the cheque, this is also a criminal offence.
Of course, the prosecution would have to prove that the person offering the cheque knew that there were insufficient funds. For example, if I paid you a cheque assuming that my regular salary would be paid into the bank, and there was a banking glitch between my employer and the bank and I did not have the money, I doubt that I would have committed a crime.
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Indeed I believe if you write a cheque knowing in advance it will bounce then you are attempting to commit a fraud, ( this would be the charge rather than passing rubber cheques ) this is why at least one SE rep has been questioned by police overseas, as they were the representative of SE the locals held them responsible.

By the way I say at least one rep as I've heard two very similar stories concerning Reps being questioned by local police this season, I'm not certain if it was the same Rep just told from a different persons perspective though.

Going back to cheques for a moment there was a film made staring Leonardo di Caprio (sp?) where he attempted to defraud vast sums of money from various organisations, he starts off using genuine cheques that he knows will bounce and later graduates to using fake cheques, the FBI regards both as a crime of equal importance, fraud is fraud no matter how you spin it.

One reason that SE/CR may not have been charged yet is that it's entirely possible based on the tales being told that they/he owes money in multiple different countries to many organisations in addition to the schools and possibly coach companies in the UK it is likely that money is owed in Italy and Austria (almost certain) and possibly Switzerland and elsewhere, given this situation I suspect it's going to be hell to actually get the money paid.
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D G Orf,
Well said.
A lot of what has been reported on this thread may not yet have been proven or heard in court, but on the face of it the 'evidence' shows SE and CR to be totally at fault here (IMO), not any school nor any parent. Trying to blame schools for being the ones that cancelled is just playing the small print and being a scumbag - those schools had NO choice in the face of having a duty of care. They have cancelled because checks indicated that bookings were not secure and SE failed to provide evidence that they were. Some schools that continued had to pay their own way or return early.
As D G Orf says, there is likely a long trail of unpaid bills here, going back to 2010 at least. Continuing to trade when you do not have the funds to cover these outstanding bills is trading insolvently.
SE's defence (or anyone watching their corner) is so far only to say "prove it". That's what we'd all like to happen.

I've attempted to see SE's point of view previously, but frankly it's a mess of their own making. As more facts/stories emerge, the more scandalous you realise the saga has been.
If you pay a deposit, you expect that money to be ringfenced and secured for the intended purpose - paying for the holiday you wanted, not disappearing into a black hole.
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snowjoe,
Quote:

not disappearing into a black hole


I think I understand where it's gone, obviously CR has unintentionally created a black hole on his golf course ... I think I read somewhere that the golf course didn't have planning consent so perhaps the black holes are the result !
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Quote:

A lot of what has been reported on this thread may not yet have been proven or heard in court, but on the face of it the 'evidence' shows SE and CR to be totally at fault here (IMO), not any school nor any parent. Trying to blame schools for being the ones that cancelled is just playing the small print


Quote:

those schools had NO choice in the face of having a duty of care


well said
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You know it makes sense.
snowjoe wrote:
Trying to blame schools for being the ones that cancelled is just playing the small print and being a scumbag - those schools had NO choice in the face of having a duty of care. They have cancelled because checks indicated that bookings were not secure and SE failed to provide evidence that they were. Some schools that continued had to pay their own way or return early.


Every one agrees on here that SE are in the wrong, but this is the real world and unfortunately 'playing the small print' is the way this will play out and any one who can not see that must be living in a darkened vacuum.
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rayscoops wrote:
...unfortunately 'playing the small print' is the way this will play out and any one who can not see that must be living in a darkened vacuum.


I realise that, sure. Also in today's real world we can all connect and debate this in ways not possible before and make the whole debacle more widely known, which was the main point of me joining this thread.

I know that if this thread existed last year, the booking's with SE would never have happened. The stories relayed here have been shared and debated and almost without exception not disputed. There are normally plenty of forum opinions to defend the other viewpoint, but not here. I am not interested in the "hang him high" rhetoric - I just wanted action to get answers because then we might see the facts behind what was reported.
(btw - 31 pages and counting, is that a SH record?)

Hopefully the Radio4 show on Wednesday will provide a footnote to events of Friday 13th. More than just - SE have refused to comment and disappeared with the money. Its always money and property that drives the law.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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D G Orf wrote:
Going back to cheques for a moment there was a film made staring Leonardo di Caprio (sp?) where he attempted to defraud vast sums of money from various organisations, he starts off using genuine cheques that he knows will bounce and later graduates to using fake cheques, the FBI regards both as a crime of equal importance, fraud is fraud no matter how you spin it.


Ironically enough given this thread the film is called "Catch me if you can!"
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rayscoops wrote:
......Every one agrees on here that SE are in the wrong.....


Hmm. We don't know both sides of the story - and, bluntly, if I were SE I wouldn't choose sH as a forum to defend myself - especially with the possibility of court action looming. I certainly think that some children and parents have been badly let down - and, by the look of it some instructors too - but there is a hint of a sH posse forming a lynch mob in this thread which makes me uncomfortable.
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achilles, neither would I use snowheads to defend myself in SE's position, but I think the fact that SE could not confirm that transport and/or hotel arrangements ( for half term trips) were in place before schools were about to travel means that they were in the wrong, not sure about all the Easter trips though because I feel the schools were a bit quick of the mark in cancelling and that SE may well have been able to secure the arrangements, as evidenced by the posts from the coach driver on here whereby SE did have the facility to book and pay for coaches at the very last minute to save some trips, and no doubt did the same with some hotels too.
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rayscoops, if I were to take a wild stab in the dark about this whole sorry fiasco I'd guess that SE was using next years payments to fund this years trips and using this years money to pay for CR's fancy house with attached golf course and maybe some of his other schemes, unfortunately the only way of checking this is having a forensic accountant check the books and even then the money may not be found.

I believe CR's treatment of both the schools and his own staff says an awful lot about him
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rayscoops wrote:
...SE did have the facility to book and pay for coaches at the very last minute to save some trips, and no doubt did the same with some hotels too.

That's simply not acceptable for schools - you cannot send, or commit to send, a coach full of children to destination uncertain. Hotels etc should have been booked and secured (demonstrably) months in advance. Especially for peak periods like half terms.
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snowjoe, agreed, but that is what happened though.
D G Orf, I mainly agree but we simply do not know the situation surrounding CR house; personal and limited company arrangements are two different entities.
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achilles, he personally doesnt need to come on here to defend himself in order for us to get "another side to the story" - but we havent had any other folks say a good word about him or his company either. Dont think there has ever been such a one sided thread on SH!!!
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rayscoops, like I said, a wild stab in the dark, however the money has gone somewhere and he does have a past criminal record of doing similar things. He was disqualified from being a company director for very good reasons, despite his self publicised claims of being found innocent on appeal he wasn't, it was simply decided on appeal that certain information should not have been used when determining the length of his ban rather than quashing the ban itself.
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D G Orf, companies can make losses as well as profits, so one can not assume that CR has creamed the value of his house off the company in lieu of paying bills. A 20% drop in the value of sterling over the period in question seems a more likely and reasonable 'stab in the dark' to understand where losses may have accrued.

It has been a difficult time for holiday companies recently http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10449594
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The last time 'he' went bust (Howglen), the company owed £1,500,000 - and that was in 1996.
He charged the company 'fees' of £100,000 p/a and paid his (now ex) wife £1,000 pcm, despite her not working there.
There were also issues regarding the recovery of a company car and his (dis)honesty under questioning was highlighted.
That time 8,000 children were at risk of losing their holiday/deposits.
I'd say he probably hasn't changed.
I'd reserve my sympathy for the poor kids who, with their families lost their money and their skiing holidays.
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Shimmy Alcott, he doesn't need to come on here to defend himself here personally or not. Nor does (or should) anybody else. snowheads aint a court.

DG Orf wrote:
I'd guess that SE was using next years payments to fund this years trips


My guess is that most TOs would do if that managed their cash flow. Is there a law/regulation that prohibits? I can see a strong case for not doing it, of course.
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achilles, no he doesnt, but you have to admit this is one of the most one sided threads on SH ever? That speaks volumes.

Go to tripadvisor - where people can say, within reason, what they like about their trip...doubt there are none with this many negative posts with so little positive or even neutral ones.
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Am I right in thinking that if next year's deposits are used to fund this year's outgoings then a business has lost a year in earnings over a period since in its inaugural year it took in deposits with no "this year's" trips to pay for? In other words, over a period it has been trading at a steady loss and if that was not addressed it would reach a point of being too much in debt to cope?
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ccl, Without seeing the books, who knows?

One possibility: The business is milking the funds and is inherently unstable relying on next years funds coming in all the time. Dodgy, that. Even given good trading conditions; at best it means the business can never be closed.

Another possibility: Cash flow is not good temporarily for a variety of reasons - capital equipment purchases for for the business for example. With reasonable expectation of the business trading out of its present cash position, this years outgoings are are funded by next year's deposits. Risky, perhaps, but not necessarily dishonest - though possibly it might be illegal under laws/rules for TOs. Maybe Wayne could advise.
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As one whose entire career was in the business of spending public money and who has never been involved in making profits, I am something of an innocent in this. But to be dependent on advances on future business to pay for present outgoings, if that is the situation, sounds to me precarious in the extreme. And if what we hear has any substance, this business is in a worse position than using next year's deposits to pay for this year's costs: it seems that even if it is getting deposits for next year, it isn't meeting this year's costs with them. And I suppose the worse that gets, the less the banks will want to know.
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ccl, pretty much you are right, many buisnesses use future income to secure loans for expansion, for instance a manufacturing company may use its future orders to help finance a building expansion or to buy in new tooling, however I can't see that this would be likely for SE, assuming a small operation all they need is an office, a few permanent staff a PC or two and a couple of phone lines. Looking at the figures plus rumours I'd guess that at least £1M seems to have vanished, that's an awful lot, far more than say ought to be accounted for by Exchange rate changes.

Something else that speaks volumes is that SE appears to have got rid of all its old staff before the start of last season and also the only non Reynard Director, that would worry me if I were a repeat user of their services as it suggests something is wrong
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Yes I see that a business would use future income as a security for loans to develop etc in the same way as I could have secured a bank loan or overdraft facility on the basis of secure future earnings from my salary. I guess however, that a bank is more likely to support a developmental purpose for a loan, personal or business than to lend in order to plug existing holes?
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achilles wrote:
Risky, perhaps, but not necessarily dishonest - though possibly it might be illegal under laws/rules for TOs. Maybe Wayne could advise.


No I can't advise, but I can point out that this "stuff" is covered by Section 20 & 21 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992
Here

You may want to also have a look at Section 22

Just a little point to note (teachers ain't going to like this wink )
SE could argue that (assuming the pupils/parents are the consumers) that schools are acting as trustees and in this case .......... zillions of coments please Toofy Grin

Of course if the school itself is the consumer (as they are desperately trying to show all over the place at the mo. BBC ?) then they have really cocked up as contract was formed between the school and SE and in this case the schools are liable to make the refund to the pupils as a custmoer can't re-sell a product without a change their status.

But of course teachers know what they are doign when they spend gazillions of pounds of other people's money.... don't they ? well they said they do/did.
They seemed to be (they hope) acting as trustees (on behalf of the LEA as the legal entity) "and" the "Other party". But you can't have it both ways.

Hmmmmm, rock and a hard place Madeye-Smiley
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Wayne, again, the teacher huggers will not like this, but if the schools acted in an appropriate contractual manner (in addition to the points you raise) when booking such trips, then SE/CR would not be in business and the parents would not have lost any money.
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Wayne, Some schools are chasing Reynard down with this legal position and others are using the Fraud laws; it seems to be depending on the legal advice given to each school. The majority of schools cancelled as the trips were unsafe. I asked the hotel owner if he had room for 100 free on a half term week and he was booked full for months [not by SE and never had been] I then tried online to book 1 room for the week and it shows they were full. On its own it proves not much but reveals the lying to our school was not a quick decision but a calculated plan of rogue trading.
Our school cancelled but there are a few where Reynard himself is reported to cancelled trips. If Reynard cancelled the terms of insurance and bonding are very likely to pay out. I hope they do as Reynard's house/holiday cottages/golf course are in his wife's name.

I have some empathy that teachers got duped by a skillful rogue trader - it is also a disaster the process of being a spending £100k of parents money is so poor. The free-visit incentives offered are normal and customary and meet duty of care checks so they are unlikely to be encompassed in the terms of the new Bribery Act. It needs process and understanding how to do this best to safeguard everyone and allow the kids to GO SKIING! Smile

The matrix of different positions and outcomes plays well to Reynard as it divides the crowd and he rules.
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Some news: http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/Ski-tour-operator-investigated-fraud/article-3559449-detail/article.html
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Wayne, pointing this thread at the relevant regulations was what I meant by 'advise' - thanks for doing so.
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Will a lengthy fraud case result in any direct financial redress for the schools/LEA/parents ? would bonds/insurances etc still be considered as having been 'effective' or would they be invalidated or unenforceable in case of a conviction for fraud ?
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Bode Swiller,

At last something that is news and is new. As said before on the who cancelled point - some are nearer to the facts than others as we have first hand accounts of what happened. The Package Holiday Regulations are absolutley clear that if Reynard changed the location of the holiday, the hotel, the means of transport, asked for additional payments - then he has to offer a full refund - and he play around with the T&Cs of his contract all he wants but he cannot override the Regulations. If he is in breach of the Regulations the schools/patents would be perfectly within their rights not to go ahead with the holidays and then go to courts to seek full refunds. Show a little patience and I supect this will happen in the near future. Once Reynard has court judgements standing against him for all those debts - then I suspect bankruptcy will not be far behind, and this is what should trigger the insurance (if AiTO are to believed). The Police and CPS would also have something of substance to base any prosecution for fraudulent trading.
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Remember that most of the contracts/dealings appear to be with CR trading as SE (not limited). But for Skiing Europe 'Limited' there are a lot of company docs available. Earlier on this thread, it was said to be a dormant company, but the history listed on the following link shows a full company history, including annual reports/balance sheet (latest overdue).
http://www.dellam.com/04138384-SKIING%20EUROPE%20LIMITED.html
I assume this information is freely available if you know where to look, or you can pay for it.

I don't think it helps here at the moment - just additional info.

Also, about the comment that all the personal assets are in his wifes' name... can anyone confirm if they are married, separated, divorced etc? And could this be why she dropped out of the company in Feb 2011 (to distance wife from company and avoid liabilities)?

Its beginning to look like it will finally get to court, but still no idea which case will hit first (fraud, civil, criminal...). We'll have to keep watching and waiting (and speculating).
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