Criticism of the way Thomas Cokk handled the deaths of two of its young customers by carbon monoxide poisoning at one of its chosen hotels in Corfu continues to damage the tour operator’s reputation.
Christi Shepherd, 7, and her brother Bobby,6, died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in 2006 after fumes from a faulty boiler leaked into their room. (See Event Organisers Update, June, THOMAS COOK PROBE) The inquest earlier this year recorded a verdict of unlawful killing and that the tour operator had breached its duty of care.
However a review of Thomas Cook’s “customer health, safety, welfare, relations and crisis management” by ex-Sainsbury’s boss Justin King has drawn sharp criticism from Jim Armitage, City Editor of the Evening Standard. Under the heading “King is wrong to praise Cook’s dismal offering” Armitage writes that “Rarely has such a report been so glowing about the organisation it is investigating” and quotes King’s claim that “Throughout its history” the tour operator’s objective has been to “consistently meet and exceed the expectations of its customers. Indeed, often it has stood out as a true leader in its industry” Armitage also notes that “Nobody is held to account, any failings seemingly being the result merely of how the firm was organised” and concludes that “Consequently the highly paid bosses who took the decisions to throw Christi and Bobby’s parents to the lawyers walk away with their reputations intact”.
The question for us is, despite Mr King’s best glowing efforts, are customers going to trust Thomas Cook to do the right thing by them in the event of another tragedy they are ultimately responsible for, given the tour operator’s utterly unimpressive performance on this one? Let’s hope not.