Travel Agency reported by Watchdog as "Cheap Holidays at a Price!!"


According to customers of an online travel agency, you may get more hassle than is worth for a cheap last minute holiday. Consumers of BBC 1 programme Watchdog have complained of booking online to only be told that they didn’t have a reservation for that hotel or that they were booked into an entirely different hotel.

Package Holiday Consumer Rights

A family celebrating a 2 week honeymoon paid £2,300 to stay at a 4 star Hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh and upon arrival were informed that they did not have a reservation. The hotel had arranged to have them stay at another hotel, although the family had their heart set on that accommodation for the special occasion. To add further annoyance, the family were then told that in order to stay they would need to pay an additional £2,000, bringing the total value of the holiday to £4,000.

The travel agency's response to the complaint was that they were acting as an Agent. They further stated that as the accommodation was supplied by another company they were not responsible for the fault.

The responsibility of tour operators to deal with complaints to the satisfaction of consumers is increasingly becoming unreasonably accounted for by companies. If a holiday is sold as one full price and includes travel, accommodation and at least one other tourist service counting for a significant proportion of the service, the holiday is sold as a package holiday and is subject to a vital piece of consumer Law, the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. Despite accommodation or flights being supplied by other companies, the agent i.e. the tour operator is responsible for the holiday. However, with the number of people booking cheap last minute holidays through high street and online agents it is imperative that consumers read all the terms of business under the contract before proceeding with their booking, to ensure that the holiday is sold as a package holiday and they are covered for any breaches of the supplier by their tour operator.

It may be that consumers also need to be wary of hotel pictures advertised as there have been reported instances where they have misrepresented the standard of accommodation by advertising clean and beautiful hotels only to find when holidaymakers get there and walk into their room that the hotel has dirty sheets, broken furniture and taped over light switches and wires. Not only this, their advertising features have caused families to book hotels which are in fact the wrong hotels due to misleading photographs being used. A family’s recent visit to Turkey with a booking at a 5 star hotel turned out to be a booking at a similar named hotel, which provided alternative 3 star accommodation.

Whilst the Travel Agency concerned claim they do not sell package holidays, consumers need to become familiar with the distinction between package and dynamic holidays so they know whether they can pursue a tour operator for any losses in the event of a breach. Where the separate components of a holiday are individually priced and it is stated in the terms and conditions that the company acts as an agent for another company who supplies accommodation, then the performance of the contract will lie with the hotel supplier.

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