Harmony Coach Holidays customers furious as firm pockets thousands for axed trips & boss goes into hiding
FURIOUS holidaymakers fear they’re set to lose thousands of pounds after a travel firm axed their trips and its boss went into hiding.
Dozens of travellers who forked out hundreds of pounds each on trips through Harmony Coach Holidays have been left devastated after their bookings were cancelled just hours before they were due to set off.
The company, based him Hamilton, Lanarkshire, specialises in organising coach journeys from Scotland and the North of England to other parts of the UK and Ireland.
One group of travellers, mostly elderly passengers, told how they splashed over £2,000 for a trip to Ireland this weekend for St Patrick’s Day – only to be told it would not go ahead just hours before they boarded.
It comes after we reported that Harmony Coach Holidays had suddenly cancelled several of its scheduled holidays in recent weeks, leaving customers in the lurch with no explanation or refunds.
Dozens more customers have since contacted The Scottish Sun revealing similar experiences with the company.
Founder and Managing Director, John Docherty, 56, has yet to address the wave of sudden cancellations despite repeated attempts to reach him.
And passengers now fear the firm has pocketed their cash with no intention of actually ever running the trips.
Jessie Halliday, a pensioner from Whitburn, West Lothian, had booked a trip from Glasgow to Kildare with her three sisters and two friends for five days.
The 75-year-old pensioner said they group have been left “devastated” over the cancelled trip, which cost a total of £2,200.
She went on to explain that she feels even more upset after she checked in with Harmony Coach Holidays over the course of the week, who assured her that the trip was going ahead.
Jessie told the Scottish Sun: “I was getting worried because I hadn’t heard anything.
“So I called two weeks before and they said ‘yes, everything’s fine we’re getting tickets printed and they’ll be out within ten days’.
“Then I called them on the Monday and they said everything is still fine. I Called Thursday and again it was definitely going ahead on Saturday and they told me ‘you’ll be fine’.
“I got six case tags as well as all our tickets on Friday and was told that the bus will be at Buchanan Bus station.
“So I got in touch with everyone and told them ‘we’re fine we’re going.’ Then on Saturday morning at 9.30am they told us it was cancelled.
“We’re devastated because I feel like we were lied to all week.”
Jessie explained that the cancellation has made it difficult for the group who can’t afford to lose hundreds of pounds.
She added: “My sister is 75. She doesn’t have that kind of money to lose it and my other sister has a daughter with Downs Syndrome so she had to get her into respite to go.
“It’s all these things – they don’t realise the impact it has on people’s lives and the things they need to do to get a holiday.
“We were all so excited and one of my friends is 75 as well so it’s not an easy time after the pandemic as well to be out of pocket when you’re on a pension.
“It’s been horrible – it’s the lies that have made me really upset.
“It’s not about the money anymore, it’s how we’ve been treated. I’m so disgusted and appalled at how we’ve been treated.
“They’re lying through their teeth”.
Customers have tried to contact the company, who have now removed their Facebook page, about getting their money back but have only been told that it’s a “problem with the bank”.
Another customer who reached out to the Scottish Sun has said she is “really angry” at the situation.
Mary Hastie, 70, was due to travel from Edinburgh to County Mayo, Ireland, on Sunday, March 5, for four days with her friend when she told her trip was cancelled on Saturday night.
The pair have been left £538 out of pocket and have been chasing the firm for a refund for nearly two weeks.
She said: “I’m really angry with them.
“At 1pm the day before they said it had been cancelled because of ‘operational reasons’ and that we would get our money back and a voucher as compensation for the trip.
“They said there was a flood in the hotel – complete nonsense.
“They said the money would take 3-5 days to reach my bank account so I waited for around 5/6 days and then I phoned them back.
“Then they told me there was a problem at the bank and that I would still get it – it was downright lies.
“I’m furious. I would have been much better if they just held their hands up and said, ‘look, we got in a muddle, we can’t afford to pay you back, we’re really sorry’.
“I could accept that – but instead I’m getting told a bundle of lies”.
Another disabled woman told how she’s worried that she will lose hundreds of pounds after her the coach firm axed her trip with just 13 hours’ notice.
Karen Bell, 57, who lives on her own and uses a mobility scooter, forked out £550 for the holiday to Dublin and also paid £50 for her dog to be put in kennels for the time she was away.
She told the Scottish Sun: “I’m on disability benefit. I had been saving up whatever I could.
“On Saturday they told me my seat number and said it was going ahead.
“I called them on Monday to see what I needed and they said just my passport and wished me a nice time.
“But at 5pm on Tuesday they called to tell me it wasn’t going ahead. The woman on the phone said she didn’t know why it was cancelled.
“They only gave me 13 hours’ notice.
“This holiday was a big thing for me. I’ve had deaths in my family recently and really wanted to get away.”
Maureen Soar, 75, was also set to travel to Kildare on March 5 and had her trip cancelled at 9.30am the day before.
The holiday, that she was meant to be going on with her husband, cost them £710.
Luckily they managed to get the cost of the trip refunded by their bank, TSB, who explained that if the couple receive refund from Harmony Coach Holidays, the money will be taken back out of their account.
Maureen told the Scottish Sun: “I was disappointed but my husband was raging.
“They told me the money would be back in my account in three to five days as well as a voucher, as if I’d use them again, and I gave them five days and called again.
“They said the money had gone from their bank to the bank and sitting with them while they ‘investigated it’.”
We previously told how Irene Irvine, from Knightswood in Glasgow, was due to travel to Dublin, Ireland, with her four friends this week for St Patrick’s Day.
After failing to receive her bus ticket, the 78-year-old retiree had been trying to speak to an employee of the company last week.
She was given a final confirmation on Saturday, but hours before her and her friends were due to set off on the trip on Wednesday morning – they found out it had been cancelled and that their booking with the hotel never existed.
Irene’s daughter booked the group onto a ferry to Ireland this afternoon at an extra cost.
But after contacting the hotel they were due to stay at in Dublin, they claim there was never a booking in their name or through the coach company.
The Scottish Sun has made multiple attempts to approach Harmony Coach Holidays’ chief John Docherty for comment.