Thurso River "non-refundable" deposit

Bats3

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I apologise if this is covering old ground, but I wanted to make sure that Thurso Anglers were aware of their rights with regard to the Thurso River's refusal to refund deposits for fishing packages cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firstly, let me say that I have a great deal of respect for almost all fishery owners and the work they do for the conservation of the Atlantic Salmon and environment in general. And. for the most part I find that they treat their customers with a great deal of respect. But I guess there have to be exceptions.

I am sure that there are those of you who have some sympathy with the Thurso River's position that they need to retain the deposit to fund their business through these difficult times. However, I would remind everyone that the river is owned by individuals who are wealthy way beyond what most of us could even dream of. That as a leisure and hospitality business they would have access to the Scottish Government's £1 Billion funding package designed to see such companies through these difficult times. That under the emergency measures they would have been able to furlough permanent staff, as well as not taking on seasonal workers to reduce costs. The hotel part of the business also has a contract with the government to provide accommodation for key workers so I suspect, although I don't know for certain, that they were/are still paid for this during lockdown. That every other fishery that I had fishing booked with during this period has allowed my deposit to be rolled over to next year without question.

In contrast, whilst I regard myself as comfortably well off, I am not wealthy. The crash in financial markets wiped about 30% of my pension investments and I don't anticipate getting any government help on that front. So while losing the best part £600 isn't going to put me on the breadline, I am disinclined to accept advice from a wealthy individual in justification of retaining my deposit that, and I quote "Everyone in the country is having to make sacrifices, of varying degree, to try and make the best of this horrible situation", with equanimity.

Let's be clear: for those of you who have had their fishing package cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, under the Package Travel Regulations 2018, you are entitled to a full refund.

One of the justifications for retaining the deposit is that that I should have adequate travel insurance to cover the loss of deposit. Well I have adequate travel insurance, but even if they agreed to pay my claim, which I doubt, why should I risk putting my premiums up when legally the Thurso River are legally obliged to repay my deposit.

Another justification is that in the offer letter it states that deposits are non refundable. However, such conditions are not legally binding unless they are reasonable. This condition was designed for people who cancelled their package, not for when the package is cancelled by the provider, whatever the reason. Even if this condition was enforced as intended it would not necessarily be reasonable to retain a deposit 25%; only if the package was cancelled at the last minute and there was no time to find a substitute customer would it be deemed reasonable to retain the deposit, and even then only sufficient to cover costs. One of the justifications stated for putting up prices and changing the spring rotation from 1 to 2 rods per beat was the demand for spring fishing so I would imagine that they wouldn't have to try too hard to re-sell a cancelled fishing package as long as they had reasonable notice. So in summary the conditions in the offer letter are irrelevant in almost every situation, and most definitely in this unfortunate situation.

I encourage everyone that find themselves in this situation to contact Citizens Advice. They will advise the steps you need to take to recover your deposit. Moreover, the more people who report this situation to Citizens Advice, the more likely Trading Standards will take a closer look at the situation and force the Thurso River to abide by the relevant legislation.

Finally, I love the Thurso. I love the river, the people, the scenery. I have had some great weeks fishing, and some poor ones as is the way with spate river fishing. I have made some good friends up there over the many years I have been visiting. However, I have a fundamental principle that I only buy goods and services from organisations that treat me as a customer with respect. Therefore, I am unlikely to return to the Thurso whilst it remains under the current ownership.... and that saddens me greatly.
 

orchy1999

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Well said and fantastic advice (y) we had a similar situation but managed to sort out with common sense prevailing.
 

kinnaber

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Completely dispicable. Hope this bites them badly although there are too many idiots who would simply accept this . Good on you naming and shaming .
 

Oscar

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Thanks Bats.

Although we're hoping our week in Sept/Oct still goes ahead, this is good advice. Strange though that they don't know this is the case, and still went ahead with the 'non refundable' announcement?

Oscar.
 

orchy1999

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Thanks Bats.

Although we're hoping our week in Sept/Oct still goes ahead, this is good advice. Strange though that they don't know this is the case, and still went ahead with the 'non refundable' announcement?

Oscar.

Chancing their arm springs to mind.
 

tenet

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Like you Bats3 I have lost my deposit for my June rotation and had discovered the 2018 packaged holiday regulations. I am in the process of formulating a response to counter the knock back letter I received from the Thurso River. Interestingly had one booked the hotel outwith the "Package" then the hotels t&c allow for cancellation with just 24 hours notice for a full rebate. Check out the t&c on the Ulbster Arms web page.
 

Bats3

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Just a quick update. I have annual Travel Insurance and I have just checked with them regarding this matter. As I thought I won't be able to claim the deposit from the insurance, simply because The Thurso River are legally obliged to refund it. The last communication from one of the owners of Thurso River said this: " I find it pretty well impossible to understand quite why you expect other Thurso fishermen to effectively “subsidise” you and your failure to have proper insurance.". He also went on to say "Equally, please remember the deposit policy is there for a reason: to protect the business. Let’s be clear, without the policy we would be most definitely making redundancies during the next month or two. I am not prepared to put good, genuine people on the dole because you can’t be bothered to abide by the agreement you freely signed up to last year." As per my previous post, they will have access to government funding to protect his business and the jobs of the people he employs.
I'll leave you to make your own judgement.
 

Bats3

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This is nothing like treating long term and previously loyal customers with respect I would suggest
 

Oscar

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Bats - so interested to hear what your next move is? Court proceedings?

It seems somebody should pay this.

Oscar.
 

Bats3

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Bats - so interested to hear what your next move is? Court proceedings?

It seems somebody should pay this.

Oscar.
So today, as advised by Citizen's advice I sent a recorded delivery letter asking for a refund under the 2018 Travel Package Regulations giving them 14 days to respond. If they don't respond or still refuse, the next step would be to seek a binding resolution through an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service. If they refuse to go to ADR, then the next step is the small claims court.Ultimately they will be forced to pay. I think they are hoping that I give up. ;-) However, my main aim is not to recover my deposit, but to make others aware. I think the Thurso River are setting a very poor example; other fishery owners are happily rolling deposits over, and I would have happily accepted this as a resolution. However, I am not now inclined to spend any more money with them.... ever under the current ownership. Considering I have probably spent between £40K and £50K with them over the last 13 years, I feel very badly treated and so should every other Thurso Angler who is in the same situation as me. And like I said in my first post, everyone should take the appropriate action to recover their deposit. They should not be allowed to get away with this.
 

McPisces

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I must freely admit to having no experience of booking fishing on the Thurso or any other river, but given the regulations in force which they are no doubt aware of I am very surprised at their stance.
Given the fact that there are forums like this and all the various social media platforms you would think the last thing they would want would be bad publicity like they are getting here?
It seems like the Thurso owners are a bunch of dinosaurs living in the past with scant regard for anyone with sheer greed to line their pockets!
 

Jimmcl

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Interestingly, the owners are also the majority shareholders in the hotel, which in the year ended April 2019 managed to trouser £91,000 in grants. Presumably from HMG or the Scottish Government (is this an oxymoron?). A FOI request could reveal the reason/reasoning for the grant. Makes for good copy if nothing else. People who fail to honour contracts should be taken to task, as you are doing, and I wholeheartedly support your efforts in this. Its scandalous if they were to be allowed to hide behind their interpretation of their mealy wording.
 

orchy1999

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Bats well done (y) I will be watching this post with increasing interest shocking that they are taking this stance.
 

kingfisher

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Bats you are quite right in standing your ground and I’m in a fight with my Travel Agent on a cancelled holiday to NYC Stay/Caribbean cruise/Mexico stay and as per the same 2018 package rules and that of section 75 of the consumer act, I should have got my money back within 14 days.
They refuse saying they haven’t got it back from their suppliers! Well I’m sorry but my contract is directly with them and want my substantial funds I gave them back.
I’ve given them the required 14 days and their email back said: we have nothing to add to my last email.
I’m now going to raise the various bits of paperwork to retrieve my money by means firstly of Drawback via the CC company.
Have you tried that first?
Good luck with your fight Bats!
 

Bats3

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Bats you are quite right in standing your ground and I’m in a fight with my Travel Agent on a cancelled holiday to NYC Stay/Caribbean cruise/Mexico stay and as per the same 2018 package rules and that of section 75 of the consumer act, I should have got my money back within 14 days.
They refuse saying they haven’t got it back from their suppliers! Well I’m sorry but my contract is directly with them and want my substantial funds I gave them back.
I’ve given them the required 14 days and their email back said: we have nothing to add to my last email.
I’m now going to raise the various bits of paperwork to retrieve my money by means firstly of Drawback via the CC company.
Have you tried that first?
Good luck with your fight Bats!
Unfortunately I paid by bank transfer....a lesson learnt!
 

Handel

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Let's be clear: for those of you who have had their fishing package cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, under the Package Travel Regulations 2018, you are entitled to a full refund.
Bats3, thanks for this very informative. Since writing it sounds like you have made further investigations. Could you share with us? I have had a quick look at the regulations and it appears that for them to apply you need to have bought what it says on the tin, a "package". I have never fished the Thurso but as I understand it you buy fishing and accommodation together. That I assume is the package. In my experience for UK fishing that is relatively unusual. Over the years I have typically booked fishing, some time later booked accommodation with someone other than the fishery owner and some time after that thought about how I am going to get there, more often than not driving. So I think, no package. Do I have this right do you think?
 

ozzyian

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Just a quick update. I have annual Travel Insurance and I have just checked with them regarding this matter. As I thought I won't be able to claim the deposit from the insurance, simply because The Thurso River are legally obliged to refund it. The last communication from one of the owners of Thurso River said this: " I find it pretty well impossible to understand quite why you expect other Thurso fishermen to effectively “subsidise” you and your failure to have proper insurance.". He also went on to say "Equally, please remember the deposit policy is there for a reason: to protect the business. Let’s be clear, without the policy we would be most definitely making redundancies during the next month or two. I am not prepared to put good, genuine people on the dole because you can’t be bothered to abide by the agreement you freely signed up to last year." As per my previous post, they will have access to government funding to protect his business and the jobs of the people he employs.
I'll leave you to make your own judgement.

What an absolutely appalling response to any customer under the circumstances let alone a loyal customer with an existing long term relationship.

Did they really state that?, incredible if so! The obvious (though well beneath you) reply would be

I find it pretty well impossible to understand quite why you expect me to effectively “subsidise” you and your failure to have proper business continuity insurance. Especially so when the position you are taking places you in breach of existing Consumer Law not to mention decent business ethics"

Equally, please remember that Consumer Law is there for a reason: to protect the consumer from unethical practise'. etc etc


I can tell that you are taking a principled position on this and I wish you well. From what you state you should be successful and their great bluff will have been for nought having severely damaged their own reputation for no financial gain - only a fitting outcome imho given the circumstances. More power to you.
 
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Bats3

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Bats3, thanks for this very informative. Since writing it sounds like you have made further investigations. Could you share with us? I have had a quick look at the regulations and it appears that for them to apply you need to have bought what it says on the tin, a "package". I have never fished the Thurso but as I understand it you buy fishing and accommodation together. That I assume is the package. In my experience for UK fishing that is relatively unusual. Over the years I have typically booked fishing, some time later booked accommodation with someone other than the fishery owner and some time after that thought about how I am going to get there, more often than not driving. So I think, no package. Do I have this right do you think?
Yes, I think that is correct. The Thurso River actually calls it a “fishing package” and it includes accommodation, meals, the rental of the fishing and the services of a Ghillie. So I don’t think they can argue that it falls outside the 2018 regulations. My Insurance company and citizens advice at least were very certain that they should make a full refund anyway. But like I said it’s now not so much about the money, but about the principle. Regardless of the rules and regulations I think their treatment of customers in this matter is scandalous and needs to be highlighted.
 

Bats3

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What an absolutely appalling response to any customer under the circumstances let alone a loyal customer with an existing long term relationship.

Did they really state that?, incredible if so! The obvious (though well beneath you) reply would be

I find it pretty well impossible to understand quite why you expect me to effectively “subsidise” you and your failure to have proper business continuity insurance. Especially so when the position you are taking places you in breach of existing Consumer Law not to mention decent business ethics"

Equally, please remember that Consumer Law is there for a reason: to protect the consumer from dishonest and unethical practise'. etc etc


I can tell that you are taking a principled position on this and I wish you well. From what you state you should be successful and their great bluff will have been for nought having severely damaged their own reputation for no financial gain - only a fitting outcome imho given the circumstances. More power to you.
Thank you. Believe me I wanted to respond along those lines and express even more forthright views. But I decided to leave it to due process and use this forum to highlight the matter.
 

ozzyian

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Thank you. Believe me I wanted to respond along those lines and express even more forthright views. But I decided to leave it to due process and use this forum to highlight the matter.
I think you are doing the right thing.
 

Bats3

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Thank you. Believe me I wanted to respond along those lines and express even more forthright views. But I decided to leave it to due process and use this forum to highlight the matter.
Actually your response is quite brilliant, and I may well make use of it... if that is ok?
 

ozzyian

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Actually your response is quite brilliant, and I may well make use of it... if that is ok?
Small fee - difficult times
:)




Course you can:) I doubt from his wording that the original author of your response letter will experience any illumination to the overall balance of the dispute though
 

Handel

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Yes, I think that is correct. The Thurso River actually calls it a “fishing package” and it includes accommodation, meals, the rental of the fishing and the services of a Ghillie. So I don’t think they can argue that it falls outside the 2018 regulations. My Insurance company and citizens advice at least were very certain that they should make a full refund anyway. But like I said it’s now not so much about the money, but about the principle. Regardless of the rules and regulations I think their treatment of customers in this matter is scandalous and needs to be highlighted.
Thanks. It sounds like Thurso will be rethinking the way they sell their fishing.
 
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