The travel industry needs to work on its public image

European workers including nurses, social workers and teaching assistants protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London before lobbying MPs over their right to remain in the UK.  Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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As if travel operators weren’t already under enough fire from much of the public for hiking prices during school breaks, here comes another story that show the holiday industry in a less than flattering light.

Keith Quick was already left reeling from the terrible news that he had terminal lung cancer.

But for his wife Chris to then be told by Thomson that she should take someone else when she asked them to cancel and refund their trip to Benidorm, it sounds like a very sick joke.

To call it adding insult to injury would be an understatement.

We haven’t heard the conversation between the Quicks’ daughter Kerry Holt and Thomson, but if, as she says, she was told to ‘shut up’, it shows a startling lack of sensitivity and compassion on the company’s behalf.

These days whenever you call pretty much any major company you are told the conversation will be recorded and could be used for training purposes.

If it as bad as Ms Holt claims, let’s hope that that is true in this instance, and that the conversation is used as an example of how not to do it.

If you read the small print when you book a holiday, then it is often the case that cancellation is met with punitive charges.

However, you would like to thank that somewhere along the line there is a person rather than a computer that can see there is a devastating reason for this cancellation.

Is it really beyond Thomson to show a little compassion and refund the full amount?

Mrs Quick says it’s not even about the money and they would like an apology.

Our story does carry a statement from Thomson, including an apology to the couple, but it is at best, rather guarded.

And Thomson’s advice to the Quicks to contact their insurers doesn’t provide much in the way of comfort either.

Surely it wouldn’t hurt for the travel operator to show a little soul? And at a time when the industry could do with fostering some goodwill, this is certainly not the way to go about it.