HUNDREDS of Thomas Cook customers queued outside pop-up shops today as redundant staff worked for free to help stricken holidaymakers.
Around 9,000 UK staff lost their jobs after the world’s oldest travel company went bust last week.
Redundant employees from the Longton travel agent in Stoke-on-Trent set up the temporary branch inside an office opposite in the Longton Exchange Shopping centre.
They were on hand to help customers from 12noon to 2pm, but customers were already outside by 10am with some having travelling more than an hour to get there.
All five workers gave up their own time for no money – despite it being the day they were due to get paid.
And the store’s loyal customers even set up a collection to help the jobless staff.
The collapse left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded across the world and more facing the despair of cancelled bookings and lost holiday plans.
But dedicated staff are giving up their free time to help customers secure refunds and to offer advice, despite having been out of work.
Ex-employees in Telford, Shropshire, have been locked out of their branch since Monday but put on a pop-up service at a local Costa Coffee shop for customers to drop in this weekend.
Fellow former Thomas Cook staff in Stoke set up a temporary office in the city’s Longton Exchange Shopping Centre on Saturday.
A note on the front of the Telford store said many of their “loyal” customers had become “friends”.
Telford store manager Kimberley Jefferies said: “We thought two or three people would perhaps pop their head in, so it was more than we expected.
“It doesn’t feel like that for us. After the shock of not getting into work on Monday morning, we felt we wanted to put our uniform on one more time.”
Stoke employee Donna Jones said in a post on Facebook: “Myself and the team from Thomas Cook Longton store are absolutely devastated by the recent collapse of our company. We truly did not know that this was going to happen.
“I have arranged for myself and my Thomas Cook Longton staff to be available to all of our customers to offer any help and guidance or try to answer any questions you may have regarding the ATOL claims process and the next steps.
“Please remember we have lost our jobs and are not being paid BUT purely doing this out of our love for our customers.”
The firm’s collapse sparked the biggest-ever peacetime repatriation to the UK, with 160,000 stranded Brits being placed on emergency flights home over the next fortnight.
Avoiding a future travel nightmare
PACKAGE deals are covered if they are booked with members of the Atol or Abta schemes.
Atol’s guarantee covers flight-based trips and Abta covers rail, cruise and self-drive ones.
Pay by credit card as it will offer stronger protection if something goes wrong with your booking, due to section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
Debit cards offer some protection under little-known bank “chargeback” schemes, but this is at the discretion of the provider rather than a legal obligation.
Not all travel insurance policies include airline or operator failure so it might be worth paying more for this if your holiday is not protected in the ways described above.
If you are planning to marry abroad, consider taking out specialist wedding insurance to protect yourself against the cost of having to reschedule.
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Holidaymakers have faced demands for unpaid bills from hotel owners in countries including Spain, Turkey and Tunisia as the full extent of Thomas Cook’s debt unravels.
The company’s top bosses have come under fire for raking in millions in bonuses as the firm plunged deeper into the red.
A breakdown of figures shows five chiefs took home nearly £47million since 2007.
Around 9,000 UK staff have been left without jobs by the collapse[/caption]
Around 500 Thomas Cook branches across the country have been forced to shut[/caption]