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‘I left my hotel room for dinner and they gave it to another guest’

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Most hotel companies have a customer services spokesperson to deal with criticism and to comment appropriately – not Britannia Hotels - Getty

Gill Charlton has been fighting for Telegraph readers and solving their travel problems for more than 30 years, winning refunds, righting wrongs and suggesting solutions.

Here is this week’s question:

Dear Gill,

On Saturday June 24, I checked into room 27 at the Britannia Hotel in Brighton at 5pm. I freshened up and left all my belongings in the room, ­including my car and house keys, and headed out for the evening.

When I returned at 2am, I was astonished to find another couple was occupying it. They had just arrived back from a night out themselves so were awake. Some of my belongings were still in the room, but they said that the rest had been given to reception. Fortunately there was someone at the desk, who assigned me a different room for the night, but no explanation was given for the mistake.

When I came to check out I was told I would still be charged the full rate of £155. The duty manager did apologise and said she would investigate, but she was only authorised to offer me a free breakfast and £15 in compensation. She agreed it was inadequate and suggested I write to Britannia’s customer service team. It has offered £15 plus 50 per cent off another night. I asked for this to be paid in cash, a total of £93, but Britannia says it won’t improve the offer. Can you help?

– George Markov

Dear George,

I was astonished by this story. Not only is it a major error – with serious security issues – to allow other guests into your room when it was already ­clearly occupied, but it beggars belief that your possessions were treated in this way and the mistake was not ­immediately rectified long before your return to the hotel. Given the ­seriousness of the ­mistake, the way it was ­subsequently handled and the lateness of the hour, it seems to me reasonable that payment for the room should be waived. But this is Britannia Hotels, which has been ranked the UK’s worst hotel chain for 11 years in a row in the annual survey ­conducted by consumer group Which?.

Most hotel companies have a customer services spokesperson to deal with criticism and to comment appropriately. Not Britannia Hotels. As I felt that George had a legitimate complaint and should not have to pay anything for such a poor experience, I approached Britannia’s head office and was told to send an email, which would be passed on to “the directors”.

A couple of weeks went by with no response, so I chased it up. I was told that my request had been passed on but, as I hadn’t heard back, it was likely I wouldn’t be getting an answer. So could I say that Britannia wasn’t going to respond? “You’re putting words into my mouth,” said the person on the other end of the line, “that’s why I don’t take these calls.”


Your travel problems solved

Gill takes on a different case each week – so please send your problems to her for consideration at asktheexperts@telegraph.co.uk. Please give your full name and, if your dispute is with a travel company, your address, telephone number and any booking reference. Gill can’t answer every question, but she will help where she can and all emails are acknowledged.