Newlyweds ‘skint’ after being charged £700 for name change when booking holiday

Sharon Barrett and husband Paul battled with her travel agent for answers (Image: Sharon Barrett/NCJ Media)

Sharon Barrett and husband Paul battled with her travel agent for answers (Image: Sharon Barrett/NCJ Media)

A Sunderland couple have been shocked after being told to spend a “ridiculous” £700 ahead of their dream holiday.

Sharon Barrett and husband Paul initially saw their pocket money cut in half due to the situation.

The charges ahead of a December 9 flight to New York came after a last name had to be changed on her booking.

Sharon was told by Hayes Travel that she had to pay £698.50 to make the change.

Otherwise she would lose 99% of the £2,200 they paid if they canceled the trip.

The 58-year-old from Washington said: “They charged us this absolutely ridiculous price without explaining what the fee was for. I thought I was hearing things when they told me the price over the phone.

“I only paid for it so I could go on holiday and I didn’t lose the money I had already paid for, but obviously I’m floored now.

“They really had me on my back, I either had to pay it or lose 99% of the £2,200.”

A newly married couple had their spending money halved for their dream holiday in New York after being charged almost £700 for changing their last name when they booked. Sharon Barrett said she was contacted by Hays Travel less than two weeks before she and husband Paul were due to depart on December 9 and said she had to pay £698.50 to change surnames on holiday, or 99 Lose % of the £2,200 you would have paid if you had canceled the trip. Caption: Sharon Barrett and her husband Paul on vacation in New York in December

The couple had their allowance halved for his trip to New York due to the false charges (Image: Sharon Barrett/NCJ MEDIA)

The complications arose when Sharon’s passport, which was in her maiden name and matched the name on the bank holiday, was misplaced after it was sent to HMRC to complete VAT registration for her company.

Fearing that the passport she had booked since December 2021 would not be returned in time for her vacation, she applied for a new one, which was then issued in her married name after her marriage in April.

After receiving her new passport on November 26, Sharon said she immediately sent a copy to Hays Travel.

But three days later she received a call from the travel agent demanding an extra fee of £698.50 to change her surname on her holiday, almost 50% of the £1,400 the couple had planned to spend.

Sharon said: “When I knew I wasn’t going to get a new passport in my maiden name I went to the travel agent and told them and they said it would cost around £55 which I said was fine, that was i expect to pay something.

“But then they called me and said I had to pay £698.50 or you’ll lose 99% of your holiday, so I had no choice but to pay it.

“I’ve been going back and forth between the travel agent and the airline and they both say different things.

“Hays Travel said they would send a breakdown of the cost but I still don’t have a breakdown despite asking them several times so I don’t understand what the charge is.”

Sharon Barrett of Zig Zag's clothing changes in Washington.

Sharon Barrett, who runs Zig Zag’s clothing alterations, has now been issued a refund (Image: NCJ Media)

Hays Travel claimed the fee was charged based on information provided to them by the airline Air France.

But Sharon claims Air France told her over the phone that it was free to change the name of her booking up to 72 hours before travel.

Hays Travel has now agreed to issue a refund to Sharon.

A Hays Travel spokesman said: “We have already investigated this matter for Ms Barrett and it has been resolved.

“At the time of the name change, we were required to follow the information provided to us by the airline and charge the fee required for a name change.

“However, we recovered this on Ms Barrett’s behalf and as the airline ultimately did not collect the fee we were able to refund Ms Barrett the fee in full.”

Air France’s website states: “The name given on your ticket cannot be changed.

‘If there is a typo or you have changed names, please call your point of sale or the sales department.’

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For more stories like this, Visit our news page. Newlyweds 'skint' after being charged £700 for name change when booking holiday

Justin Scacco

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