The weather is one of a number of factors that can make a holiday go with a swing. For many of us a package holiday provides a convenient way to combine the things we need while at play. Although package holidays do not come with a guarantee of the required weather consumers do have certain rights when a package holiday fails to live up to expectations.
Any description of the holiday in the brochure or given by a travel agent or tour operator must be accurate. For example, the hotel must be within (reasonable) walking distance of the beach if the brochure says it is; and while you would not expect a budget priced holiday to be of the same standard as a luxury holiday basic
standards of hygiene should still apply.
Legible, comprehensible and accurate pricing in all holiday brochures is a legal requirement. Once confirmed, the price of the holiday can only be increased if it is allowed in the booking conditions and is because of an increase in transport costs, to cover fees and taxes for services, such as landing fees, or variations in the exchange rate. The first 2% of any increase must be absorbed by the tour operator. If the increase is significant, (more than 10% say) you should be given the opportunity to cancel the holiday. No price increase should be passed on in the period 30 days before departure.
The booking conditions form part of the binding contract between the person who booked the holiday and the tour operator which takes effect when the booking is confirmed. Any information contained in the brochure or provided by the travel agent when the holiday was booked is also part of the contract. If the tour operator cancels the holiday after the booking is confirmed you have the right to a full refund, even if you are offered an alternative holiday
If there is a breach in the terms of the contract and you have incurred additional expenses or suffered inconvenience or have suffered disappointment or mental distress complain to the tour operator (if possible to the local representative) as soon as you are able to do so. Gather as much evidence as you can. Take photographs, and ask for witnesses’ names and addresses. Back this up with a letter to the tour operator within 28 days of your return. Refer in your letter to any booking reference number or send a copy of your invoice. Keep a copy of your letter and send it by recorded delivery. If you use your credit card to pay for the holiday and the cost is more than £100 and less than £30,000, the credit card company may be equally liable for any breach of contract.
If you aren’t happy with the response to your complaint, write to the tour operator and the credit card company, if applicable, repeating your complaint and requesting compensation. Give them fourteen days to resolve the matter or tell them you will consider taking legal action. If the operator has sent you a cheque for compensation which you feel is inadequate, you can cash the cheque and write back explaining why you feel the amount is inadequate and saying you are accepting the money on account. Don’t cash the cheque if the letter says ‘encashment is deemed acceptance’, because by doing so, you are accepting the amount as a final settlement
For more advice on what to do if your package holiday goes wrong you can call Consumer Direct on 0845 404 0506. You can also contact your local CAB via the Citizens Advice Waverley line on 0844 848 7969 to talk to an adviser or to make an appointment for a face to face meeting for advice on this or other consumer issues, housing, legal matters, discrimination, employment, immigration or benefits issues. You should be aware that calls to this number cost just over 5p a minute from a BT land line. Charges for calls from mobile phones may vary. If you are comfortable using the Internet you can also get advice as well as learning more about what we do from our very own CA Waverley website at www.casws.org.uk or you might like to try AdviceGuide, the Citizens Advice self help web site (www.adviceguide.org.uk)