Package holiday pains
You may be reading this while working on your tan on a sunny beach, on the way to the airport wondering if you turned the oven off or on the way home from hopefully a fantastic break! What happens if the holiday does not turn out as expected.
After moving home and Christmas, going on holiday is one of the most stressful events of the year for many families. Most people will have saved for months to go on vacation, so we will have high expectations. But what happens when a tour operator fail to meet these expectations?
Top tipsIt is important to bear in mind that things don’t always go to plan so you need to remember to be reasonable with your expectations. However, if you have experienced poor service then we can recommend the following:
- Report it: as soon as you can to someone from your package holiday firm, take down their name and the time and date you reported the issue
- What next: what does the representative of the company recommend as the next step in the complaints process
- Evidence: wherever you can take photos or videos of the problem, names and email addresses of anyone else that has experienced the same challenges;
- Submit a complaint formally: you should either submit a complaint when you get home or even when you are still abroad if you have access to cost efficient internet access. Don’t forget that Resolver (http://www.resolver.co.uk/complaints/travel-complaints) can help you submit your complaint.
Raising your issue
When raising the issue, you should first approach the package holiday operator as they are responsible for the entire package. Therefore, if there is a problem with the flight, hotel, connections or excursions (if booked as part of the package or booked via the package holiday company), please approach them directly.
What can you claim?
Your holiday falls under the Package Travel Regulations (Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992), which in essence stipulates that the consumer should get what they booked and paid for.
Did the brochure or website accurately describe the holiday you experienced? If the tour did not match then, you are entitled to make a claim. The operator is liable for all the services if it has organised two or more elements of your holiday, for example, car hire, accommodation, flights, etc.
A successful claim must relate to relevant terms of the holiday contract known as “express or implied terms”. One of these terms must have been broken, for example an explicit term where the brochure promises full board or entertainment each night, which is not available, or an implied term that your holiday should be of a reasonable standard based on the price you paid.
If the Tour Operator offers a reasonable alternative to compensate for the breach, you must consider accepting the offer or it may appear that you have failed to try to mitigate your loss.
You cannot succeed in claiming for loss of enjoyment. Unless it was a special trip such as a honeymoon, which went quite wrong your claim is unlikely to succeed.
If you cannot resolve the issue?
If you cannot resolve the issue with the company then you can raise the matter with Association of British Tour Operators (ABTA) or the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) depending on which organisation your package holiday provider is a member of.
Both agencies offer a dispute resolution service. ABTA will charge you between £108 and £264 for mediation and limits damages to £1,500 per person. AITO will charge you a flat fee of £140 with a damage limit of £2,000 per person up to a maximum of £10,000.
The alternative is to take legal action and take the company to Court. You can submit your claim through Money Claims OnLine (MCOL), Government’s Online Court. The cost will depend on the amount you claim. You can cancel your claim at any point during the process. However, if you case reaches court, then you may be liable to pay the company’s legal costs if you lose the case.
Experienced long delays at Border Control
Once you have arrived back and experience a long queue simply, to have your passport checked you could raise your complaint or frustration to UK Border Control via Resolver. It only takes 2 minutes of your time, and it is important to let them know that you have experienced excessive waiting times to enable them to improve their services.
What if you are waiting for your passport?
If you are getting ready to go on holiday and haven’t received your renewal or new passport, Resolver has added the Passport Office to enable you to raise and resolve issues such as these (http://www.resolver.co.uk/companies/hm-passport-office-complaints). Resolver will explain your rights and more importantly record your phone calls so if anything goes wrong you have a record of the issue. You should ask for your passport application to be upgraded to Priority or Fast Track for free to ensure your passport is received in time.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has stated that if the Passport Office delays issuing your passport you may be able to claim on your travel insurance policy if you do not receive it in time to travel. Unless the policy expressly states that it does not cover delayed passports, then you should be able to claim on your travel insurance. If your claim is rejected after eight weeks, you can then take your case to the Financial Ombudsman via Resolver.