Red Letter Days

Ok this is going to be short and sweet because god knows where the evening’s gone (oh yeah Andrew spent it on the phone to the mortgage lender!)

I just need to get this off my chest – I can’t believe how much of a rip-off Red Letter Days is! For those not familiar with the business, it’s a company that creates vouchers for special days, either spa days, snowboarding lessons, a Zorbing experience or a day out with a stylist.
they suck!
We received a Red Letter Day voucher from friends for the wedding in July, and we knew the expiration date was coming soon so we picked a Rasul temple Chakra mud spa experience. Since the wedding, the Rasul temple for two had gone up in price. Red Letter refused to honour the voucher and wanted me to pay an extra £25 to get it, otherwise it was only for one person! So after spending 45 minutes on the phone every time I called them, I agreed to paying the extra. Now with all the house and other ongoing things, we decided next Monday turned out to be a bad day, so I called them back and tried to re-book for a later date. Their policy says only death in the family, major illness or burglary/major damage to the house was justification enough to change a booking! Saying it was a wedding gift didn’t sway them in the least.

So instead I called the wonderful Elemis Spa in London and re-booked for July directly through them. It should be a really lovely experience for the day after our first wedding anniversary.

In brief, don’t book through Red Letter Days EVER! Use Google and your imagination and pick a nice activity for your friends and book it directly. You won’t get ripped off money-wise and won’t be stuck with their awfully inflexible terms and conditions!

I don’t understand how Rachel Elnaugh on Dragon’s Den can stand proud when she says she created Red Letter Days, it’s a ripoff business and in this day and age of Googling and personal research, it’s an obsolete company. To quote my friend VegCat, “Bite me, Rachel!”

Note: I forgot to say, Elemis Spa even allowed us to change the booking to a weekend or late evening (they close at 9pm), while Red Letter Days strictly limited bookings to weekdays during the day. Again, proving that booking directly with the activity of your choice gives more flexibility!

The Spa people were very friendly on the phone while the Red Letter phone monkeys sighed and moaned like I was disturbing them! Pfft we know who I’m going to call next time!

Edit 30/09/05: If you’ve had problems with RLD, check out this post for advice! A forum has been created for you to discuss problems!

43 thoughts on “Red Letter Days

  1. Expat

    I had never heard of Red Letter Days before, but it sounds as though they are difficult to deal with. I hope that you get things worked out. It would be nice to have a day at the spa to celebrate your anniversary.

    Zorbing certainly seems interesting. I can’t help but think of hamsters when I look at that picture on the site though! :o)

  2. CH

    The only problem with your gripe is that you’ve had the voucher for nine months and hadn’t bothered to use it. It does seem it’s always a companies fault when things are changed due to the circumstances, which can change over a nine month period. Also, if you booked an airline ticket would they allow you to change the date because you were having ‘a bad day’? I think not.

    Typical of a marketing ‘exec’ with naff all to do – moan and moan until you get your own way. It’s the way the world is going I suppose.

  3. Vero

    The voucher had NOT expired, and should therefore have been honoured as-is. I would not have complained, had it been past the expiry date of the voucher. A company that offers special days should make customers feel special, rather than feel like an immense chore every time they call, including the first time they try to book. Their behaviour was already unacceptable even before the “extra fee” event.

    You see, some people happen to have very busy lives, and spending money to go to London for 45 minutes wasn’t in the cards before summer.

    And I certainly didn’t need to moan in the slightest when I called the spa directly. They were wonderfully polite and chirpy, unless the call centre drones from Red Letter Days, and without me even needing to give an excuse, they offered me an ideal weekend slot for a time that was more suitable.

    Being ready to bring up problems in a diplomatic manner rather than lethargically ignoring them tends to pay off much better. It helps customers be satisfied, and it helps the company evaluate where they’ve gone wrong.

    As for your lame attempts at offending me, if that’s what they are, hmm better luck next time, chump.

  4. Call Centre Drone

    have you ever worked in a call centre? ever had to deal with call queues of people flashing up how long they’ve been waiting…60 min..90 min. how about the pressure of having to SMILE on the phone all day long in case any supervisors are auditing? and let’s not forget the all-important KPI (key performance indicator) which tallies up how long you’ve been on a call, how much time you spent on wrap up, how many calls you take and make and how it all affects your salary. THEN let’s ask whether a call centre drone as you name us in such a frankly insulting manner would even have the power to wave a magic wand over every complaining customer and wipe away company policy which, i suspect, i clearly stated in the Terms and Conditions which you likely never read. and then, ask yourself…how many other complaints has this poorly paid, pressurised, no-other-job-options, cannon fodder of a drone had to deal with before myself? 100? 200? if you don’t have the nous to ask to speak to a customer service agent when calling a drone then you only have yourself to blame.

  5. Rexmonster...

    I am in the midst of attempting to book my red letter day driving experience but have all but given up with this company. I have spent over an hour on hold in total without getting through, and was once disconnected from the phone queue after 10 minutes for no aparent reason. I emailed them three weeks ago, including my reference number, and they still haven’t responded to that either. As somebody rightly pointed out, it should be a special experience rather than an expensive and inconvenient hassle to even communicate with these people.

  6. Fuming

    hear hear to all negative comments about Red Letter Days – dreadful company, dreadful service. Would never use them again. Spread the word!!

  7. Bobby

    Well I work for Red Letter Days and totally understand when people call up and need to book,re-book,extend,or just buy a voucher. What I don’t understand is even when people have been waiting for 4 minutes they still come on with an attitude of a 16 year old who has just been dumped and expect me to assume a McDonalds HAPPY mentality even when they haven’t bothered to pick up the phone once to book their experience or even register it in their own name! So many dumbos call that it is hard to be smiley phone guy for 8 hours a day! I have dealt with so many people like you who have no respect for any sort of human error or terms and conditions and then MOAN and MOAN!!!! The fact that you expected to just cancel wily nilly at the drop of a hat is so laughable! Have you ever booked anything else in your life? And as for your wonderful Elemis Spa in London… They are the ones who only give us weekdays and not the other way around! Don’t you think it would make my like a lot easier if i could hand a weekend date over to unreasonable customers like you?? So don’t paint us to be all bad and how dare you call me a monkey! Frankly you seem to have the intellect of something far less intelligent than a monkey anyway!
    P.S. RLD have had a bit of a difficult period recently but its all been sorted and at the end of the day ….we have the best and most diverse experiences to offer and were the pioneers of the experience gift so get over it! End of!!!

  8. Sebastian Young

    Bobby, your loyalty is admirable! RLD have been ripping off customers with over inflated prices for years. I have dealt with other similar companies who are far cheaper and far more helpful and you don’t have to wait ages in a phone queue. You are right though, it was rude referring to you as monkeys – RUDE AND INSULTING TO A MONKEY! I hear 15 people have been made redundant in the last week with more cuts onthe way, I hope your loyalty is rewarded.

  9. Vero

    Bobby: What you’ve missed out on here, is that I always have and always will be polite and sweet to customer service/call centre people. I’m well aware of how much 8 hours a day of whiny people must feel, and I know the only way of getting a positive response and a bit of help is to be nice and polite.

    It’s the policies themselves that are completely backwards and twisted, making it 90% admin, phone calls, emails and 10% enjoyment of the actual activity. This defeats the purpose completely.

    I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s booked a RLD and has been happy with it from beginning to end! And it’s never the activity itself that comes up as problematic, rather the service surrounding it.

    I just don’t think there’s enough people in the call centre, causing the ones who are there to be strung out, impatient and well… beligerant the way you’re proving to be. Obviously, cutting jobs won’t help the situation, but maybe it’s too far in the downwards spiral to stop it now.

    Lets hope so…

  10. Jimmy

    Sebestian it is true that you can find many experiences much cheaper with other companies or on the web. However, lets hope you never have an accident doing one of these experiences because you will realise the reason they are cheaper is that they have skimped on insurance coverage and liability covarage. Hopefully this will never happen to you.

    On the subject of Red Letter Days you are right they recently fired 14 out of their 160 staff. This doesn’t seem that drastic to me. Also if you read the bad press, most of it appears to be the people recently fired selling their stories to the press.

    All companies go through bad times and I have been on at least 3 RLD’s myself and found them to be well organised and good value for money. I also didn’t have to wait very long to make my booking, then again I didn’t leave it until the last minute.

  11. Oliver

    Jimmy, its nothing to do with insurance. All the suppliers of these activities are more than covered re: insurance. The company has over-marketed with huge tv and radio advertising which did not pay off and payed out large sums of money to overpaid directors if you care to check there 2003 accounts – that’s why there prices are high!

  12. Ray

    I had problems when trying to book a sail on the America Cup boat. Told to call again in November to see what was available next year. Got a refund via the shop. My daughter has now been caught up in the Thruxton Racing Circuit cancellations. She paid again and had a great day no thanks to RLD. Told no refund as after 28 days. They took booking and confirmed but never met their contractual commitments. My daughter was only told the day before going and all arrangements were then made. Still trying to get refund. Have told all my friends not to touch them. Dont think they will now last long as they have lost credibility. must now be breaking Trading Standards as they are offering things that they cannot deliver

  13. tom

    I turned down a place to be on the first series of dragons den, I think Rachel the founder should spend more time with her own business, and is not in a good position to give out advice.

    Suspicions that Red Letter Days is in financial trouble were further fuelled today by the sacking of 15 members of staff.
    A recently recruited senior manager from the new Leeds office was devastated to learn that, after a high profile interview process in London earlier this year, during which she ‘won’ the most innovative idea for a new Red Letter Day Experience, she was one of the people asked to leave.

  14. tom

    Just for Richael from Dragons Den my new start up company Preventx which sells drug and chlamydia tests on line from a website is doing really well, and hopfully the products will be on the shelves of Boots in the coming months. So glad I turned down the BBC’s Dragons Den.

  15. Sam Peresie

    Red Letter Days will not honor my ferrari experience voucher. They will not refund the 250 pounds. The company that assumed the assets, Kroll, says they will not refund the money. Harrods, where it was purchased, will not refund. I have had 250 pounds stolen by RLD and there is nothing I can do about it. I’ve already spent hours on the phone with all three and they say the same thing. The visa won’t refund the money because it has been more than 60 days. If anybody has any advice, besides calling them again, I am at my wits end.

  16. rose

    I just came across this site whilst surfing about red letter days….the dates for my voucher were all booked up so i wasnt able to book my experience and now since the date on my voucher has expired they will not refund it. My advice: write letters to RLD as well as Andrew Pepper c/o Kroll Ltd and get legal advice. Thats what I’m doing at the moment. Stick with it, although I know it’s time consuming. Red Letter days has ripped off many people but will get away with it if no one acts on it. Has anyone contacted that WatchDog tv programme? Also, look at Media statement on RLD website which states that RLD will honour all RLD experiences…. 

  17. Haggis

    I was surfing for red letter days as well. Actually what I typed into google was RED LETTER DAYS RIP OFF. I am currently sat here on the phone on hold at Red Letter Days. I have had a £200 experience for about 6 months. I have booked twice but had it cancelled both times (bad weather). Now I hear that RLD is not going to pay me even though my experience was bought using a VISA card as it is longer than 60 days. Currently Watchdog is on TV so might drop by their site next as well. BOBBY if you are reading this, why not stop sitting there defending RLD and ANSWER THE BLOODY PHONE! (45 mins so far and counting.) How can a company just go bust overnight and then start up again the next day without honouring their committments. I would advise NO-ONE to book anything else with this absolute rip off company. Over priced and blatantly ripping people off. Very very Annoyed.

  18. Haggis

    Well they finally answered the phone and I was told that I would have to write to the administrators to see what they can do. (What a joke). Instead I wrote to watchdog instead. I am also about to purchase so that other people can list their complaints there. It might not be much, but if I can get it higher in google than their website, at least potential customers can read how they swindled thousands of people before they make a purchase. Extremely annoyed.

  19. rose

    i am going to write into watchdog right now too. keep me posted if you receive a reply from RLD or get any useful advice on how to deal with our problem.


    I also stand to lose a considerable amount of money as we are a supplier of the Studio Experience with Red Letter. We did not get paid for 3 ½ months and had to pay out wages and material during all that time. We have also submitted a claim to Kroll but as an unsecured creditor I don’t think we’ll get a penny! Anyone of your readers that had a Studio voucher can redeem it at our Studio for £99-00; this also applies to any other experience purchased at £150.00 or more. This would cover a three hour recording session. Not ideal I know but it might just help out some clients & salvage something for the Studio.

    Stewart Field. Managing Director

  21. Jack

    Can I have a whinge too?? Phoned RLD admittedly late on to book an experience. (Took a while to book initially due to health reasons that I hoped would have improved over the year). Anyway I WAS a week within the expiry date on the voucher. Paid £26 extra for my chosen experience to update the voucher as recommended by the phone operator. (Presumed that as I had initiated the booking that the deadline of the voucher was no longer a problem). No dates were available at the time of my call so I was advised to call back the following week. Did so, to be told…”Sorry your voucher has expired, there is nothing we can do… Try and seek a refund for your £26 from KROLL…”
    So now my voucher is obselete. I have no gripes with the phone operators but no-one at RLD has admitted an oversight on their behalf. Neither are they prepared for any goodwill gestures to improve their name.

    This just doesn’t seem the right way of improving customer satisfaction which surely should be paramount after recent bad press and financial difficulties.

  22. Becky


    I’ve also missed out on my red letter days voucher for a VIP shopping spree at Topshop, which is valued at £145 and was for my 30th birthday present – usual fobbing off about lack of dates, availability etc. I appreciate its not the fault of the call centre staff and feel that they do get a lot of stick – I’m going to write to Kroll (who I am assuming are the administrators?) and also to Topshop directly to see if they will maybe take pity ! What a rip off !!

  23. rose

    me again…
    i got a letter back from Kroll. They claim that they are not responsible for refunding customers and the current managers are not responsible either…so, um…surely there is something illegal going on here!

  24. richard

    Yes Red letter Days are a major rip off. I had a voucher that expired in august and made my booking about six months before it ran out. A few days before I was due to go on a flight last month Red Letter Days phoned to say it was cancelled as they no longer dealt with the airfield. I think it’s more a case of the airfield not dealing with them. They said I’d have to make another booking as soon as possible. Not a problem but when I called a couple of days later they said my voucher had expired and I couldn’t now use it. Even though they had cancelled the booking they said their terms and conditions didn’t allow them to make refunds. Legal? I’m currently seeking legal advice.

  25. Phil Hill

    My girlfriend booked me a RLD driving experience for £200 for this year. The company will not honour the voucher. The gift was bought from a shop called ‘Microzine’ and they will not give us a refund. It wasn’t bought with a credit card. Can anyone help me get my money back??

  26. Paul

    Now I think about it, this company just prints its own money. You pay in sterling, and they give you a piece of paper with their logo on it. But when it expires it’s worth nothing, and the company pockets the hard cash. I’ve lost £250 quid on a Ferrari Driving Voucher for my wife, when she became ill and couldn’t use it in the timescale.

    I will never buy another gift voucher from any company, ever again!!

  27. Ravi Tekchandani

    I agree with you, red letter days has just ripped me off. My voucher expired, unknowingly they print the expiry date on the inside of the packaging. I told them I had no idea of an expiry date. My arguement was that every other product I can think of that has an expiry date has it on the outside of the packaging (think of a supermarket). They didn’t want to comment on packaging. I got ripped off and will spend the weekend putting warning expiry stickers on the product they have in department store for the benifit of other consumers.

    Use a search engine and a telephone go direct if you want to book something, there website has plenty of ideas though.

  28. Lavender

    We did not suffer from an expired voucher, rather the Rally Driving experience was definately not anything like the desciption. Far from a wonderful three hour experience my husband and son stood around for two hours 45 minutes and finally were allowed in the rally car (well a ford anyway)drove around a disused airfield and then were criticized for not doing it right. The voucher says they would get a momento of the day, a baseball cap but oops, they were out of stock and after having paid £390 for the “experience” they were even charged for the tea and coffee !! I complained and the nice people at RLD sent me two more vouchers for the blue experiences, which are neither use nor ornament to my husband or 20 yr old. Not only that, it will just cost us more money and time to actually get to any of the places. The vouchers are going back. Don’t suppose I will get any real money in return…….

  29. PapaPulpo

    I was given a Red Letter voucher in July 2005. They then went publicly bust and I phoned in August to enquire…they said they were being taken over (by one of the other ‘dragons’…obviously shorthand for arsehole thieves) and that all vouchers would be honoured but that they’d need a couple of months to get things in order. I moved house, and with various other committments, thought I’d wait until this Summer to use it. Now they say that no chance…it was last September or never. I’ve worked in call centres. I’ve worked in retail companies. I’ve never had (nor given) such appalling service. I recommend everyone avoids the new Red Letter company. 150GBP down the drain – and no attempt to try and help. May the owners have boils on their proverbials and suffer an almighty bankrupcy!

  30. TomP

    As a former employee (a long time prior to the bankrupt episode), I can quite happily say that Red letter days used to be a great company both to work for and to be a customer of. However, things started to change. Richard Kaffel (at the time rumoured, probably correctly, by all the staff to be Rachel Kabra’s bit on the side) began taking over more of the day to day running of the company and ‘SNAFU’ became the normal state of operation. Rachel turned up to approve designs and check out the marketing campaigns but had no clue about the actual customers and their feelings or the treatment of the suppliers of the various ‘experiences’ (they regularly got paid late if at all).

    All in all, the people at the firm were actually pretty competant and generally pleasant but the instructions and business practices handed down from senior management (We do not give refunds etc…..) were the sort of thing that one would expect from AOL. Far too much focus on marketing and branding with not enough emphasis on quality, integrity and transparency (also know as good old fashioned common sense). It is all very well being the ‘market leader’ but if you are leading a field with almost no competition that is not difficult but as soon as and numerous others (even the supplier themselves via the internet) get in on the act you have to lead the field by actually being GOOD at what you do. Hell, I even new suppliers that refused to deal with RLD as their billing and payments practices were so bad (just tip toeing on the right side of legal….. if you stretch the law a little).

  31. Simon

    Our voucher expired – completely our fault, but most companies will extend a voucher if it expired… so I get an email from Red Letter Days today saying no refund as it’s in the T&C’s… blah blah blah.

    BUT, you can have 25% off if you want to re-book – word of mouth is the strongest communication method.

    Foxtrot Oscar….

    By the way – if you booked on a credit card, you can still put a chargeback in upto 12 months after purchase…. 😉

  32. Kerry

    Hi Vero – I came across these old posts about Red Letter Days whilst doing price comparisons for my own gift experience company (Gift Experience Scotland Ltd). Although aware of many RLD problems during our initial market research, I had no idea things had gotten so bad. I just want to say thank you to you and your comments for reminding me exactly why we treat both our suppliers and customers with the utmost respect and politeness. Never in a million years do I want this sort of thing to happen to our company and to this end we pay our suppliers BEFORE the customer books and we are as flexible as possible when it comes to expiry dates etc. I just don’t understand the reason for the extra charging when supplier prices went up – that is the main reason for an expiry date – so you can guarantee that price to the customer.

    Their prices are inflated too – during my price checks I found them to be sometimes 50% more expensive than us, and I know that we use the same suppliers for the particular experiences I’m talking about. Rest assured that we won’t be putting our prices in line with RLD. Anyway, to summarise, please don’t let your bad experience put you off – there ARE experience companies out there that act with integrity and great customer service. Thanks for reading this


  33. a-coward

    I was compelled to reply to this post even if it is 3 years late, my reply is directed at Call Centre Drone.

    Whilst i am sympathetic to the pressures applied to people who work in call centres I don’t think the whinge from Call Centre Drone is professional and certainly does nothing to improve the profile of RLD. I myself have worked taking referred calls from a payment merchant and I understand KPI’s and SLA’s and how aggrieved and angry a customer can rightly get, especially when their mortgage payment is taken twice in a month!

    Whilst this job was frustrating it is not by far the most arduous job I have had – try working in a steel press mill, you will then know what pressure and REAL hard work is for a considerably lower salary and an infinitely more dangerous working environment.

    Thankfully my career has progressed since then. I suggest that you try and further your own career, a call centre is like any job at the bottom, we have all been there and managed to act gracefully. I am sure as a child you were told that life is not fair and that you make your own luck, the big surprise I suspect for you is that this is true!

    No wonder call centres are outsourced to foreign lands. Maybe not being able to communicate with the call taker is less detrimental to a business than having rude jobsworths you can understand!

  34. Dan

    As a current and long time employee of RLD, can I also just add that Bobby is no longer an employee here and for good reason as you can see. We’re under new ownership and have addressed many of the concerns raised throughout this post. Many thanks :o)

  35. Me

    I appears Gift Experience Scotland has went the same way, treating the paying customer with contempt, not paying suppliers in time and ruining experiences. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!!

  36. Gail

    Hi there,

    I noticed that you have said that Gift Experience Scotland has gone the same way but the business is still running (6 years strong) and has no problems paying suppliers / running experiences. We’re actually expanding at the moment.

    I work with Gift Experience Scotland and would be happy to help you if you have a specific problem. Please contact me through the website and I will be happy to help.


  37. Richard

    Hi everybody,

    Interesting to see so many complaints about the voucher expiry issue simply because I have just suffered the same fate. My wife booked a RLD cookery course for me last November for my 40th. Although I tried to book an actual event, over six month period it was cancelled THREE times, usually at only 24 hours before the event actually took place, buggering up child-care arrangement etc…Took ages for RLD to issue a new voucher (needing all sorts of paperwork from me and incurring a recorded delivery cost…) only to discover that it only had a three month useage limit….which of course has now run out!!!

    Have sent a begging email to RLD’s MD but not holding out much hope……

  38. Derek

    My son had red letter day driving experience booked for Monday 22nd June,
    he has booked hotel and train tickets (non refundable)
    the driving centre has just called and cancelled his booking cause they are resurfacing the track !
    when he told them about the hotel their response was ‘tough not our problem’

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