Lowestoft Travel saga continues

TRADING Standards officials have received nearly 40 complaints about Lowestoft Travel from desperate customers eager to find out if they could get refunds after the tour operator’s collapse.

Hundreds of holidaymakers and concertgoers paid thousands of pounds for tickets for dream breaks and a rare opportunity to see Take That live – but face losing all their money after the company’s owner Symon Thorp, 44, was jailed for importing drugs.

Trading Standards officer Phil Childs was able to provide a silver lining for customers who paid over �100 on their credit cards, as they may be able to claim back the money under the Consumer Credit Act, which states the credit card company is liable for any breach of contract by the business.

However, many of the holidaymakers, including elderly pensioners, paid monthly instalments of �100 in cash direct to Lowestoft Travel for trips to Spain, Italy and Croatia, and are not legally entitled to a refund.

Although Lowestoft Travel has stopped trading, Mr Childs said no breach of contract would have taken place until customers did not receive what they had paid for.

He advised consumers who paid by cash to call the administrator if the firm goes into receivership.

Mr Childs said legal action could be taken against the director of a company if they have been trading unfairly to prevent them from doing the same with another business; but if no action has been taken against an individual in the past they could not be prevented from starting another business.

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Thorp received a four-year jail term at Canterbury Crown Court earlier this month, while two of his employees, Owen Marshall-Eliot, 68, of Beccles Road, Gorleston and David Clark, 51, of Rowan Way, Lowestoft received three year and two year jail terms respectively for importing drugs.

For Gordon Albon, 52, of Rodney Road, Great Yarmouth his two-week trip to Lloret De Mar in Spain in September with his wife Eileen, 60, would have been the first time he had been abroad in his life.

The couple bought passports last year in preparation for their trip.

Mr Albon, who is on income support, added: “I can’t afford it, not with what I get a fortnight. Me and my wife get �102 a week to live on.”

His friend Roy Hooper, 57, who lives with wife Audrey, 65, in Audley Street, Yarmouth, was also going on the Spanish trip and paid in �100 instalments, totalling �890.

The care assistant said: “Lots of people out there are struggling. The company could have said they were in trouble, don’t bring us any more money.”

Lowestoft man Tony Pettley, 74, was also going on the trip and had paid �194 plus �50 for travel insurance.

He added: “It has hit me hard because I have only got my pension to survive on.”

Customers are advised to call Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506.