Getting compensation for package holiday problems – Your holiday consumer rights.
Like Many of us, we look forward to our holiday abroad all year. But, if you book a package holiday, who is responsible when or if things go wrong?
Who is providing the holiday you paid for?
You might book your holiday directly with a tour operator or through a travel agent. Usually travel agents act as middle-men between you and the tour operator (the company that actually organises your accommodation, flights and any other parts of your holiday, such as day-trips).
No matter how you book your holiday, your contract is with the holiday company that provides and organises your holiday.
It is this company’s responsibility to provide the holiday that you ask for, and to sort out any problems you have. Before booking, make sure that you know who this is.
Usually it will be obvious at the time of booking such as Thomson or Cosmos but if you’re unsure, ask.
Your travel rights to get the holiday you booked
Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (PTR) the holiday company is responsible for providing all parts of the holiday as agreed.
This means you have a consumer right to:
- Get the holiday that you booked or was described to you (for example, if you book a named five-star hotel in Jamaica for two week, that’s what you should get).
- Get the holiday at the price you agreed,
- Expect that any details you are given about the holiday are factually correct and not misleading (for example in a holiday brochure or on a company website),
- Expect that your holiday accommodation and resort is clean and safe.
If your holiday is changed or cancelled before you leave
If any part of your holiday, such as your hotel, is changed significantly before you leave, or if your holiday is cancelled, then you have the right to:
- a refund, without having to pay a cancellation fee,
accept an inferior quality holiday and get a refund for the difference in price, or
accept an equivalent or superior holiday, without having to pay extra.
- You may also be entitled to compensation if you are left out-of-pocket, for example, if you’d already booked car rental that you now can’t use, or for loss of enjoyment.
If changes are due to circumstances beyond your holiday company’s control (such as a natural disaster), then you won’t usually be entitled to compensation.
But if the holiday company knew of a problem but let you go anyway, you may be able to claim for stress or disappointment.
You have the same rights if the cost of your holiday increases significantly (say, more than 10%).
However, once confirmed, the price of the holiday can only be increased if this is stated in the booking conditions and if it is due to:
- A significant increase in transport costs, such as fuel,
- Or an increase in fees and taxes for services, such as landing fees, or variations in the exchange rate.
- Also, the first 2% of any increase must be covered by the holiday company, and it must not pass on any price increase in the 30 days before you leave.
If your accommodation or resort is not as described to you, the law says that the holiday company must offer you a suitable alternative.
If it really can’t provide anything that is remotely close to what you had paid for, it should offer to fly you home.
You can claim compensation for:
‘loss of bargain’ (the difference in value between what you booked and what you got),
out-of-pocket expenses, and
loss of enjoyment, or inconvenience or disappointment.
If your holiday company goes bust.
Your travel plans shouldn’t be affected if your travel agent goes bust, as the money you paid would have gone to the tour operator organising your accommodation and flights.
It’s a good idea to contact the tour operator to make sure that they have your contact details and that everything is in place.
If your tour operator goes bust you should be protected as, under the PTR all package holidays have to be bonded, so your money is protected.
If you can’t take your holiday
If you are unable to go on the holiday, for example due to illness or bereavement, you are not legally entitled to a refund.
You may be able to claim back the cost of the holiday from your travel insurance.
You also have a right, under the Package Travel Regulations , to transfer your holiday to someone else such as a friend or family member.
The holiday company is allowed to charge you a reasonable administration fee for this.