20 DECEMBER 1963, Page 24

Consuming Interest

Villa Complaints

By LESLIE ADRIAN A man claimed that Eurovillas had rented him a villa in Spain which failed to live up to its description in three ways, the most important of which was that there was no hot running water in kitchen or bathroom. He had already rejected two villas which had only cold water and was then offered the one which the owner (not Eurovillas) described as having 'hot and cold running water.' Eurovillas made it quite clear that the villa was new and had not yet been personally inspected by anyone on Euro- villas' staff. It would be inspected as soon as

possible but they knew the owner well, and, on previous experience, had no reason to doubt his description. The client accepted this, went on holiday and found that, though hot and cold water taps had been fitted, there was only cold water. He paid £103 in rent for a month's stay and, hot water apart, had a very enjoyable holi- day.

The tribunal's judgment was in favour of the client. It was no fault of Eurovillas that the owner's description was not entirely accurate and they had made it clear that the villa had not been inspected in the usual way. None the less, the client had insisted that hot water was essen- tial. He had been offered and had paid for a villa with hot water, and it turned out that it only had cold water. In compensation, the tribunal awarded a refund of £20 to the client, with costs (five shillings to cover postage for correspondence with Eurovillas and the tribunal).

Before taking evidence at its first meeting, the chairman of the tribunal announced that business would be conducted as informally as possible, that the tribunal would always try to reach its decisions on what its members consid- ered to be fair and equitable, rather than on the basis of strict law, and that costs would be awarded to either side (but that these would be kept low) in order to discourage frivolous com- plaints. It is being made clear from the start that the tribunal is not in any sense sponsored by the villa renting firms even though it was they who suggested that it be set up.

A journalist friend rented a house in Brittany from one of the largest of the villa renting firms. He found the whole place damp and musty (the rising damp in the kitchen had reached the top of the door). All in all, he was more disgusted than surprised to find a slug on the bedside table. The plugs in the wall basins did not fit, and the beds were still unmade when he and his party arrived.

At the end of the holiday he managed to get a £10 refund and an offer of a 10 per cent de- duction should he book one of the firm's villas next year—hardly likely under the circumstances. The sad moral of the story is that my friend had to fight his own battle because the villa renting firm concerned is not a member of the National Villa Association, so the case could not be put to arbitration.

Because Phileas Fogg took iced claret with his dinner at the Reform Club it is no reason why we should, even if our cellars are below zero and our rooms a mere one degree over. A really cold bottle will take hours to rise to room temperature. To drink a good red wine at cellar temperature (55° F.) or less is like playing a new LP with a bent pin. To . bring its temperature up with a plunge into hot water will destroy its subtlety of bouquet and flavour. 'Room temperature,' incidentally, is more like 65' than 75°. A wine that feels warm to the tongue is as good as dead.

Mr. Ford Barry, who runs the family wine firm of J. G. Ford and Son (Sedley Place, Oxford Street, WI; MAYfair 1838), built for his own use a neat electrical device that he calls the Chambrd Vin. When a bottle (cork drawn, of course) is placed inside the leather- covered cylinder, which is lined with an elec-

trical heating element, its weight automatically switches on the current. After five minutes the temperature of the bottle has gone up 1° F., and another two degrees in the next five minutes., The cycle lasts twenty minutes, and the tempera- ture of the bottle is raised to about 65" (less if it starts colder). The Chambrd Vin is now on sale (at Harrods, Jackson's and Fortnum and Mason, among others), and costs' £6 12s. 6d. It can also be ordered directly from the Wallace Component Company,- I Barrett Street, Oxford Street, WI.


Spain should look good in print next year, if the travel writers' competition just announced from Madrid has the desired effect. The Spanish Government is offering a prize of 50,000 peSetas (£300, but for spending in Spain only) `to the writer or journalist whose work has contributed the most to the promotion of Spanish tourism for the current year.' Critics, beware--and readers still more. This is a new twist in bribing the honest British journalist.