A FAMILY have been left devastated after a company collapse left their summer holiday plans in tatters.
Jackie Alton, 47, her husband, Billy, 56, sister, Debbie Marsh, 44, and cousin, Joanne Evans, 43, were counting down the days to their trip to Turkey next month.
But the joy and excitement turned to tears of heartbreak earlier this week when the group found out they were victims of the collapse of tour operator Holidays4U.
The company, which specialised in trips to Turkey, suddenly ceased trading on Wednesday, affecting an estimated 50,000 people with bookings and a further 12,000 holidaymakers who were already on sunshine breaks.
Jackie, who booked her £700 trip to the Icmeler resort in November last year, saw the news and went straight to Hays Travel, in York Road, Hartlepool, where she booked the holiday.
But just minutes later she left the shop crying after being told their holiday had been cancelled, and it may take up to two years for them to get all of their money back.
“I just feel sick, it’s awful,” said Jackie, who works for Mariners Fish and Chips, in the town’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
“We had no idea that we had booked with Holidays4U, as far as we were concerned it was sorted through the travel agents, but when I saw the news on Wednesday night I just had a feeling.
“I walked into the travel agents, they asked me where I was going and told me straight away it was cancelled.
“I just started crying, I had to walk out.”
Jackie told the others the bad news and was forced to take a day’s holiday from work.
“I couldn’t concentrate after that, I just kept thinking I was going to start crying again,” said Jackie, who lives with Billy, a wagon driver, in Kilwick Street, and is a mum of Michael Jones, 22, and Stephen Jones, 20,
“Between the four of us, we had paid nearly £1,400 for our holiday.I have already changed £600 into Turkish money, and even paid £33 for car parking at the airport.
“We have been told it could take months, even up to two years to get the money back, so there is no way we can afford another one.
“As far as I’m concerned we booked the holiday with Hays Travel so it’s their responsibility.
“They hadn’t got in touch with me, I had to go in and ask, at what point were they going to let us know we didn’t have a holiday anymore?”
A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “We are recommending customers to go back to the travel agents to see if they are able to arrange something at a different time.
“Holidays4U provided package holidays and the travel agents may be able to provide something else.
“If they can’t, customers can put a claim in to the CAA for a refund.
“If the customers didn’t book a package holiday they should see if their travel agents can arrange alternative flights and contact the accommodation company directly.”
Hays Travel, which has a head office in Sunderland, was unavailable for comment.