Survey Finds 1.75 Million Germans Plan Complaints Already Before Going on Holiday

83 percent want their money back / 69 percent demand free upgrade

Survey "planned complaints during holidays"It is unbelievable. Already before leaving for their holiday, 1.75 million Germans plan on complaining during their stay. This was shown by a representative survey conducted by the online travel portal ab-in-den-urlaub.de (4.88 million users per month according to German media research company AGOF in January 2013) among 1,000 Germans. Although Germans are still world champions in travelling – in 2012 alone, 53 million travelled within Germany and abroad (minimum stay of 5 days, German research association on holiday travel behaviour FUR) – this puts them in a bad light.

The survey found that 3.3 percent of respondents, that is 1.75 million travellers, plan complaints already before their holiday. Although this only applies to a minority of German holidaymakers, the results offer a rare insight into the morality of some tourists. The reasons for complaining are as diverse as the travel destinations.

An incredible 83 percent (about 1.45m travellers) simply plan on complaining in order to get money back from the tour operator, the hotel, the guest house or the shipping company. They are flexible as to what they will complain about and decide spontaneously at their holiday destination. Close to 69 percent (1.2m travellers) use a planned complaint for “scrounging” an upgrade in the hotel. As a result, the “troublemakers” don’t sleep in the booked double room, but maybe in a room with sea view, or even in a junior suite. Such an upgrade can be equivalent to costs of several hundred Euros per person, even if it is for only one week.

More than half of the complainers, that is 56 percent or 974,000, found a cheaper offer after they had confirmed the booking and try to get the lost Euros back in their pocket by complaining. Too bad that in most cases, for example when booking package holidays, it is not possible to cancel the booking without a fee. Only few tour operators grant the right to cancel free of charge within up to 3 days after the booking (see table).

Other reasons for complaint before departure

One third of the complainers (582,000 travellers) say they read negative reviews about the hotel (for example on hotel review websites like holidaytest.de) only after they had booked and therefore plan on complaining. 28 percent (487,000 travellers) are already sure before their departure that they will encounter something negative like noise in and around the hotel, bugs, a run-down accommodation, bad food or something similar. It is hard to believe: 25 percent (437,000 travellers) say they still had “a score to settle” with the tour operator or the hotel. They use the travel or stay for making a complaint and thereby “pay them back”.

Levels of education and age groups that enjoy complaining

Survey "planned complaints during holidays"The survey found that in particular those Germans who obtained their Abitur (A levels) or a university degree enjoy complaining The majority of them want money back (33 percent). When it comes to getting an upgrade, people with those levels of education are among the first ones to complain as well. The vindictive ones are mainly Germans with a Hauptschulabschluss (9 years of school). 11 percent supposedly have a “score to settle” with the tour operator or hotel.

Looking at the age structure of the “holiday troublemakers”, those aged 30 to 49 years particularly enjoy complaining. 22 percent of the age group 30 to 39 years and 25 percent of the group 40 to 49 years plan a complaint in order to scrounge money. It is remarkable that the age group 60 to 69 years leads with 17 percent in the area “found cheaper offer only after booking” (see table).*

*It was possible to give multiple answers in the survey.

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