Thomas Cook has come bottom of Which?’s annual package holiday provider rankings, scoring just two out of five in the ‘holiday rep’ category and three stars in all but one of the others.
Its overall score of 69 per cent is far below the top-rated firm – Trailfinders, which scores 91 per cent.
Jet2 Holidays comes second with an overall score of 87 per cent and Riviera Travel third, with 86 per cent.
Thomas Cook has come bottom of Which?’s annual package holiday provider rankings
Thomas Cook, a package holiday specialist, gets four stars in the ‘description matching reality’ category, but three for ‘accommodation’, ‘customer service’, ‘organisation of holiday’ and ‘value for money’.
The survey quizzed more than 4,000 holidaymakers, with one in four Thomas Cook customers telling Which? that they had encountered a problem on holiday, the most common issues relating to the reps, travel delays and poor customer service.
Travellers complained that the reps were ‘often unhelpful, or simply non-existent’.
One customer said: ‘We never saw a rep the whole time we were there… all there was, was a number on a noticeboard.’ Another said the company’s customer services operation on the ground ‘seemed to be in disarray’ as reps failed to show up at the airport or hotel to assist travellers.
Tui and First Choice finish second and third from last respectively, receiving three and four-star ratings across the board and overall customer scores of 74 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.
But both firms still finish behind eight other providers in the rankings.
Jet2 Holidays, now Britain’s second-biggest travel operator, has four-star ratings across all categories
THE BEST AND WORST PACKAGE HOLIDAY PROVIDERS
Trailfinders (37) – 91%
Jet2 Holidays (600) – 87%
Riviera Travel (30) – 86%
First Choice (73) – 75%
Tui (1,033) – 74%
Thomas Cook (289) – 69%
Source: Which?. The numbers in brackets refer to how many customers of that firm took part in the survey.
The categories in the survey were accommodation, customer service, description matching reality, holiday reps, organisation of holiday and value for money.
Which? Travel said: ‘Some Tui customers complained about poor customer service, unprofessional holiday reps and disappointing accommodation facilities. A number of customers were also far from impressed when they paid extra for a better hotel view that never transpired.’
One customer told the consumer rights group: ‘The rep service advertised did not materialise, resulting in a lot of difficulties getting the necessary information.’
No1-ranked Trailfinders, a specialist in bespoke trips to exotic destinations, is the only provider with five-star ratings for any category – a feat it achieves for both customer service and holiday organisation.
One satisfied Trailfinders customer said: ‘Everything ran smoothly. I was able to personalise my holiday to my taste, and the hotel was stunning.’
Trailfinders also receives four-star ratings for value for money, accommodation and consistently meeting customer expectations.
Jet2 Holidays, now Britain’s second-biggest travel operator, has four-star ratings across all categories after impressing holidaymakers with excellent customer service and a policy offering a free 22kg luggage allowance for passengers.
One holidaymaker said: ‘Jet2 is well-managed and consistently excellent on all fronts. Take note Thomas Cook, Tui and others.’
Which? research found the average cost per day for a short-haul holiday with Jet2 Holidays was the same as Tui and Thomas Cook – despite Jet2 ‘offering a considerably better experience’.
Which? Travel added: ‘While the gap between the best and worst package travel providers may not be huge, the survey sends a clear message that the big players must up their game if they are to compete with rivals doing a better job of giving customers what they want.’
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: ‘Many millions of loyal customers come back to Thomas Cook year after year. It seems they are not represented by the sample of fewer than 300 of our customers which was used for this Which? report.
‘We take the views of our customers very seriously. Our own customer satisfaction scores – which incorporate the feedback of tens of thousands of customers – are significantly higher than those reported by Which? and this year, satisfaction is up in all areas, including our rep service and quality of hotels.
‘This weekend is set to be the busiest for travel as the schools break up and our 600-strong team of reps in destinations across the world are ready to make sure all our customers have an incredible holiday.’