Much to my partner's and credit card's dismay; last month I impulsively bought two Wowcher mystery tickets. I loved the idea of a gamble and a surprise holiday. I'd seen mixed reviews on the service looking through tweets but chose to do it anyway... ooooops?! I thought I'd write a blog post on my experience (so far) so people can learn of the process and potential drawbacks before buying tickets themselves.
You start off on Wowcher to purchase the voucher codes and then are redirected to Weekender Breaks to redeem them. Once redeemed you are given a date for a draw and then told you will hear 10 days after that about where you're going. So, I was given the date of 28 August for the draw (and 10 days thereafter to hear from them) but I got fed up of waiting and phoned up yesterday (3 September) after seeing others on Twitter had called to find out their destinations.
The lady told me straight away that I'd won 2 nights in Berlin so I thought "Great, I've never been to Germany!" and then after some typing noises she follows with something along the lines of "Hang on Miss Callaway, I can see that you are unable to have flights to and from Bristol on these days. We can only offer you 3 nights (bonus?!) but you are required to pay an extra £56 per person (not such a bonus.)".
I was irritated but still minded to take this holiday as it was an extra day which seemed sort of fair for the extra cost, so she sent me a confirmation email for me to read whilst she remained on the phone. This email included lots of details including our names, DOBs, address, telephone number, email address, flight times and dates, hotel and the extra money due. Once I had skimmed through she pressed me to reply to her email to confirm that I wanted the holiday. This was a super awkward and pressuring moment so I sent the email but regretted it instantly, this is definitely not a good process and doesn't allow you to take in any of the information before confirming you would like to have the holiday.
After she received this she then proceeded to ask for my long card number. I was taken aback by this as I'd obviously only phoned to see what our destination was and didn't know any extra costs would be requested, and even when I did know of the extra cost I thought they would at least give me a time frame to pay the money. I haven't budged for an extra £112 to be disposable this month so told her I didn't have the money. She then said that because I couldn't pay there and then that she couldn't hold the holiday. So I asked her what I was supposed to do? She then asked if I'd be interested in another destination without the extra cost to which I said yes. Then after some more typing noise she asked me if I'd be interested in Riga, Latvia for 2 nights to which I said yes.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we have taken the Riga holiday BUT have to fly from Stansted (5+ hours drive from us) instead of Bristol and have to go away in January instead March, both of which I requested when I redeemed my codes.
I looked again on the Wowcher website after booking and looking in the 'fine print' it turns out if you want to fly from Bristol (as well as Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham, East Midlands and Edinburgh airports) you are required to pay an extra £40pp to £60pp so watch out. I also searched the hotel and flights after my call and they've made £80 out of us but you win some, you lose some I suppose.
So far I'm quite disappointed as we're going away 2 months before we requested in another airport and almost had to pay an extra £112. I wouldn't recommend it and would say it's probably cheaper and more fun to put a few places in a hat and pick one out! Then you can plan a holiday totally suited to you.
I'll write another post AFTER the holiday to see how it goes. Wish me luck!