Why you should steer clear of ‘The Holiday Specialist’

The Holiday Specialist Scam

The Holiday Specialist Scam“I have been in touch with everyone. Fraud squad, etc. not a penny back…”

It’s summer and the weather is… awful. Many of us will be thinking of trying to get away to somewhere hot.

The Internet is awash with package deals and special offers and often it can be hard to know where to look.

So when you’re contacted on the phone by a polite, friendly and enthusiastic representative from a travel company and offered incredible cut priced holidays you’re likely to hear them out. Especially if they offer you all the necessary assurances and appear to be above board.

I got an email last week from Insider’s Edge reader Robert who has had what sounds like an absolutely horrific experience with a certain holiday company called ‘The Holiday Specialist’. I have to say, this is really, really upsetting stuff.

Here’s what he had to say:

“Have you heard of a company called “The Holiday Specialist”? They are in Alicante, in Spain. I am a 74yro disabled pensioner, I have paid them over £1000 over 10 months, for cheaper holidays however up till now I have not taken out any options.

4 weeks ago they tried to sell me more holidays, but I said I don’t have any money at the moment. I told them at least 20 times… but they had my Visa card number, and they took out of my acc. £599.61. This happened 5 weeks ago. I had to go 10 days with no cash at all, and I lost 12lb in weight. I have been in touch with every one. Fraud squad, etc. not a penny back. I want someone like you to warn your readers.”

I don’t know about you but this makes me so angry.  Furious.

But before we go any further Insider’s Edge isn’t a forum for baseless witch-hunting and there are two sides to every story so I did a bit of research into this company.

They’ll wish I hadn’t…

Surprise surprise this isn’t the first time they seem to have upset their customers…

(I should mention that there isn’t actually room to put all the disgruntled comments I found on websites and forums so I’ll just put some snippets here).

“We paid £499.00 for what we thought was a cruise… after 10 months they told us we had not purchased the cruise it was a gift and that we purchased a loyalty card…”

“They are still at it, taking people for a ride. I bought the travel card, booked my holiday through them, just for them to inform me 2 days before my departure that they never booked my tickets.”

“Like many others, I have been scammed by The Holiday Specialist or Lifetime Marketing Solutions or which ever name they use.”

“VERY DODGY – It’s a Spanish based scam operation”

“I have just returned from USA to visit my very sick, elderly father. I noticed on his debit card several hundreds of pounds on automatic debit for this company. When I look at the material I do not find a phone number nor email address to contact these people…”

“we booked last November to go to Thailand with them using our LMS Loyalty card. We found ourselves never of the phone to them. Kept giving us different flight numbers every time we called. Then came the time for our holiday in July and still no tickets.”

“we made the mistake of booking with them even though we had our suspicions, its all a scam. 2 days prior to flight departure they called to say there were no flights for us and we had booked with them 9months prior. We still have not had any money back. My advice is to stay well clear.”

Here’s a particularly interesting one…

“When I bought the tickets and the card, they ensured me that they are ATOL and ABTA registered, Now that I have actually asked for the numbers of their registration, they informed me that they are not actually registered…”

Now to be fair I’m not giving the full side of the story. I’ve found at least 7 or 8 comments made in support of this outfit (as opposed to the 60 or so complaints).

The funny thing is, all of these positive comments seem to have been made by brand new forum members (i.e. people with no history on the site who’ve suddenly signed up to post a positive review about this company in reponse to a negative one). Very suspicious.

Here’s an example:

“I have had mine [membership] for two months. I have booked, and returned from 7 flights to europe already and had a family holiday in America. I too believed it was too good to be true but i have NO complaints…”

Incredible, 7 flights in 2 months AND a family holiday eh? That’s a man that enjoys his plane food.

Almost all of the other comments from supporters have something suspicious about them – like broken English… or peculiar turns of phrase.

But you know what? These are just reports.

So let’s look at the cold hard facts.

Let me start with what I found on their impressive looking website.

I found lots of enticing, well-written information promising big discounts and customer satisfaction.

Here’s what I didn’t find…

1. Any contact information whatsoever – other than an 0870 number (hmm…) and an email address.

2. Any mention of ATOL or ABTA registration on their site. These are regulatory bodies for travel organisations and offer us, the consumers, protection should something go wrong. It is essential to look out for these logos when booking a holiday.

Some other observations of note…

3. On their website they claim: “Our team has a true passion for travel and with over 25 years experience we enjoy tailor-making holidays for each and every one of our clients….” Yet funnily enough (as some clever fellow from the mindtimeshare.me website has pointed out) they only registered their website in 2011 – a year ago.

4. They keep changing their name. One minute they’re ‘Lifetime Marketing Solutions’ then their ‘The Holiday Specialist’. It turns out the two companies are partnered and both are based in Alicante, Spain.

5. They’re hiring new telemarketers. Their website has a ‘Join Our Team’ page. What jobs are on offer? Just one it seems… They require “additional telemarketers”. This job involves moving to Spain and calling UK numbers. They boast a “very good commission structure”. Who’s going to organise and arrange my bespoke holiday? Surely not a telemarketer!

6.  And finally here’s an interesting anecdote (which may or may not be fact, but sounds convincing enough to me) from someone who claims to be an ex-employee:

“As staff, I had no computer with information or flights, excursions, hotels etc in front of me to look at to provide customers with. Customers are lead to believe they’re paying a ‘one off fee’ of £499 for this ‘loyalty travel trade card’ which in fact DOES NOTHING.

To get my sales figures up I asked my manager if I could sell these ‘holidays, flights etc’ to my friends and family to boost my commission but was told I was not allowed (BECAUSE IT’S A SCAM)

I flew home after a week of working for this company and am pleased. It’s dodgy, It was first called LMS TRAVEL, then THE HOLIDAY SPECIALIST and apparently it’s now called Travel Trade Card??!

Do not let them lead you to believe this is legit… it’s far from it.”

Now apologies if I’ve overdone it here and laboured the point. I just don’t want this kind of thing to happen to anyone else.

‘The Holiday Specialist’ are just one outfit – there are plenty more out there vying for money and they’ll often do or say anything to get it.

This will come too late for Robert and I’m sorry for that, but there are a few precautions you can take to stop yourself from getting scammed by travel agents or holiday brokers.

Take a look here to find out how you can protect yourself in the future

15 responses to “Why you should steer clear of ‘The Holiday Specialist’”

  1. I too have been scammed by this bogus company. Please inform your readers that writing to cancel the holiday trade card and your contract is futile as we have just experienced. We telephoned them on several occasions and also wrote to cancel our contract with them within a month. They replied and acknowledged our letter but refused to refund our initial payment. This was back in December of 2011 and this week (23 Sept 2012) they have taken an annual payment of £101.19 out of our credit card account. Your advice to cancel the credit card is essential but please also advise the readers to inform the credit card company to put a stop on all future requests for payments from this company.You should be able to get some money back if it is an unauthorised payment that has been taken out of your account.

  2. Hi

    Yes, I am another one! I was sacammed by the low life who work for LMS Holiday Specialists offerring a cruise at £500. Sounded good, said ABTA bonded, but when we went to book the cruise the actual price was well over £1000 each – dearer than the brochure price.

    When I first got through and complained, told did not buy the cruise but bought the loyalty card, the cruise was free so nothing to do with them!

    I email them asking for a call back – nothing. They are nothing but theives.

    If they ring beware of Joanne and Dean. Promise the earth and deliver nothing.

    Is there any way we could get together and do something about these b——s! Beleive me I could say worse than that!)

  3. I to have been scammed for £3500 altogether. In brief, it is such a long story.We booked 2 flights for our daughter living in Australia home for last Christmas. £2500 they were to fly with ‘Air China’ They had to change travel details, so a further £469. 4 days from day of travel after many attempts to obtain our tickets we eventually called ‘Air China’ to see whether they were booked on the flight (we smelt a rat)No booking ever made. So not only had they not booked a flight and would have let them turn up at the airport coming home for Christmas but had ‘obtained money under false pretences’for charging change of flight details on tickets they had never booked in the first place.That is illegal in any country. We had paid for a cruise that was reasonable. I worked in travel. all that they claimed and sucked us into was all quite acceptable. So with ‘loyalty card’, cruise, flights, and change of dates we have now been tucked up for £3500. Trading standards are helping us now. We paid for all this with a credit card, so we are hoping they are going to help with our problem, not straight forward though.
    Avoid these people with a barge poll. Nothing but a disaster.

    • please why do people not contact la nucia police (nearly opposite the holliday specialist you will find the owner georgina chris the con boss lizzy the sale closer his girlfriend,warren a good con artist drivng a dodgy plated escort cabriolet natasha the best thief ever in the world who earns a fortune alex her boyfriend customer services with a bad drug habbit mel steven jess lisa harry its simple call into the police station with your details report theft

    • HI JOHN

  4. By the way people this is the real Greg.

    My my my some people are so bitter when they try and make a new life in Spain and fall flat on their face, Keith [deleted] of London. From what I gather you don’t have to be in Spain to ruin your life, you are generally one of lifes failures. Shame on you for being so negative on a company I really enjoyed working for and is greatly misunderstood. It is not the companys fault that you arrived in Spain without a penny and were homeless. The company gave you a lifeline of a job, and gave you a place to live so you didn’t have to sleep on the streets. This is how you repay kindness? Shame on you.

    Yes The Holiday Specialist has admittedly had a bit of bad press. This isn’t due to bad company values, it is due to bad/desperate sales people that come in and can’t do the job properly. They cut corners to try and get an easy sale, low and behold the companys reputation suffers. People like Keith who can’t sell [deleted] struggle, due to this they feel their life in Spain is threatened and do whatever they can to seal the deal. This includes misleading customers and using underhand tactics.

    What you have to realise people is that you are getting 5 star holidays for next to nothing so expect a sales presentation when you arrive. It is not rocket science. I can assure you this though, The Holiday Specialist offer fantastic service and products for those who are sold to correctly. The people mentioned above try their best to enforce this. They are lovely people who I have a lot of respect for, for various reasons. You know who you are.

    People like Keith have to realise that their failings in life are down to themselves and have to stop being bitter and resentful. Fact of the matter is there are people loving their jobs and lives in Spain, and customers enjoying fantastic valus holidays.

    Keith [deleted], author of the last post, bore off. No one cares what you have to say. For the record I am now back in England and don’t work for the company. I am not being biast, this post has just angered me as I know who it was.

    That is all.

    Greg Marshall.

    • Well the Marshall, you should read my post before you try to defend these scam artists, my aunt has spent £2000 for a trip to NZ – she’s in her late 80’s and has been totally ripped off by them. If you still have contacts at the holiday specialist perhaps you might like to ask them for a refund on behalf of my aunt Joan. Maybe you can call in a favour huh!

  5. My poor aunt booked her flight to New Zealand last August 2012, started to get concerned when her 2 x tickets had not arrived by tues 5th feb as she was flying on sat 9th feb ! You guessed it, £2000 lighter and no tickets to travel tomorrow! This is a lady in her late 80’s who had scrimped & scraped to save for this trip to see her daughter in NZ. Too ill to travel alone, her son was travelling with her. Not now I am afraid, this company should be ashamed of themselves. Took ages to get through to the company, to be told there are no tickets and there is nothing they can do about it – no refund nothing. Ironically I got through on the reservations line and YES they are still operating and taking huge amounts of money from people and providing nothing in return.

    This is fraudulent activity and I hope the police nail them to the wall – cruel xxxxxxxx.

  6. Yes i am joining the club of the many that the Holiday specialist have ripped off.I have been chasing up my tickets that i booked for Thailand for over two weeks only to be told i will not be getting them.They are still trading and taking bookings as i got a friend to get a quote for a holiday from them,so i called them up and asked how they can still be trading they said we have not gone into liquidation but we do have cash problems.How can these people sleep at night knowing the stress and upset this is causing .
    I have now reported them to the ACTION FRAUD POLICE contact them at


    they have take all my details so the more people that report them the better to see if we can get them closed down.

  7. booked a holiday to tenerife paid over £3000 for four people was due to travel 22 2 13 got a call last wek to tell us that there agent had gone bust and our holiday had not been booked when asked about our money was told to try and claim it from our credit card card

    • Hello Donald
      I am now going down the road of trying to get my money back through my visa debit card.But can you please report T H S to the ACTION FRAUD DEPARTMENT AT THE POLICE THE MORE OF US THAT DO THIS THE BETTER CHANCE WE WILL HAVE TO GET THIS COMPANY CLOSED DOWN.If you do a Google search for the company you will see this is not a new problem it seems to have been a regular problem for some time now and they don’t seem to care how they are hurting people by there thoughtless behaviour. Lets hope we will get some satisfaction .I have now purchased more tickets to get me to Thailand on Friday .I am also going to report them to the Spanish police.

  8. I can’t believe they are still taking bookings! We have just fallen foul of them again (although I must say we have always received a holiday, even if it hasn’t been the exact one we booked) and was told by Catherine in reservations that they have gone into administration. I have no idea whether this is correct or not, but wanted to share what I had been told.

  9. yes i booked a holiday in spain for 4 people at Easter only to find their spanish agent had gone into liquidation so we were left £1500 out of pocket and no hoilday plus the money we payed for loyality.
    shame on them

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