But after that agonising low of wondering how she could afford to pay out again and salvage her trip, Stella James is on a super high. Having fought with Crusader to get refunds from Dante Labs, in an astonishing turnaround it has now reimbursed her for the failed delivery and £318 more for the other expenses she incurred.
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These included a more expensive test and a new ticket along with transfer and parking fees.
“I missed two days of my holiday, but I’m very relieved,” said Stella when she thanked us for our support.
Stella, a mum of modest means with grown up children, booked her fitness holiday to Fuerteventura two years ago. “I chose Dante because of the reasonable price. I followed the rules yet lost out which seemed so unfair,” she explains.
“They said my sample ‘had not been sorted’ yet and to wait. When the result didn’t come through by the time I was at check-in, I had to leave my friend to go on without me.
“I was really upset, but my family and friends were wonderful and helped out paying the replacement charges so I rebooked everything as fast as possible.”
Before she flew she asked Crusader for help and we took up the matter with Dante.
But it rejected Stella’s claim telling her she would have to wait 30 days for her test refund and it would only cover that order.
Then it was repaid more quickly and a couple of weeks ago the company apologised to Stella saying her sample had been “impacted by high volumes of demand” and it refunded her £318 more.
Watchdog the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been stepping up actions to make the PCR testing market work better for consumers complaining of unfairly high prices and poor service.
Shortly after Stella received her refunds, the CMA announced it was investigating Dante Labs and probing concerns about its treatment of customers.
While there was plenty in testing companies’ terms about customers’ obligations, when Crusader trawled them we failed to find anything clearly set out about what consumers could expect or should factor in if service delays occurred.
“I was ready to fight but I couldn’t have afforded a solicitor,” said Stella. “Crusader standing by me made all the difference.”