It's that time of year when we all start to dream about sitting on a hot, sunny beach whilst sipping a cold drink and forgetting about the troubles of every day life for a week or so. Whilst many of us like to plan and book our own trip, tailoring every little detail to ensure we get the best value for money possible, there is something to be said about walking in to a travel agent and having it all sorted for you.
So, aside from being convenient, what other benefits are there to booking a package holiday?
What Constitutes a Package Holiday?
A package holiday is defined as a pre-arranged combination of at least two of the following:-
1. Transport (e.g. flights, train or bus)
3. Services not related to transport or accommodation but which account for a significant proportion of the package holiday (e.g. trips, excursions or car hire)
If you book a package holiday you are provided with protection under the Package Travel Regulations that would not necessarily apply if you were to organise the holiday yourself. This means that in the event that the holiday is a disappointment or you suffer an injury during the holiday you could be entitled to claim compensation.
What are my rights under the Package Holiday Regulations?
The Package Travel Regulations place a number of obligations on the provider of any package holiday which we will cover within this blog. If, for whatever reason, the tour operator fails to comply with those regulations, they can be fined up to £5000 in a Magistrates' Court or even face an unlimited fine in the Crown Court.
Misleading Descriptive Material
Any descriptive material must not be misleading to consumers. In addition, any brochures relating to the package holiday must be legible, comprehensive and accurate not only in describing the details of the holiday but also in providing price information.
Of course, unforeseen situations can arise where the organiser of a package holiday needs to make changes to the holiday before you depart. If this happens, you should be informed of any changes as soon as possible so that you are provided with adequate opportunity to decide whether you are prepared to accept those changes or whether you would prefer to cancel the holiday free of charge.
In the event that it is necessary for you to cancel your holiday as a result of changes made by the operator of the package holiday (such as in the situation outlined above) or your package holiday is cancelled by the operator through no fault of your own, you are entitled to:-
* A substitute package of equivalent value (if one is available);
* A substitute package of a lower value along with a refund of any outstanding difference between the package values; or
* A full reimbursement of any fees your have paid under for the package holiday in question.
If the cancellation happens during the holiday itself and it is not possible to provide one of the above options, the operator should provide you with transport back to the place of departure or another agreed location.
Additional Cover for Services Provided
If your package holiday consisted of any other parties providing services as part of the contract i.e. car hire companies or excursion organisers and you make a pre-payment to the tour operator for these services, your tour operator must protect you in respect of the provision of these services. A failure to do so is a criminal offence.
How do these rights protect me?
The Package Travel Regulations can protect you in a number of ways. For example, if your holiday wasn't what you expected, you may be able to claim compensation for loss of value, loss of enjoyment or out of pocket expenses. Alternatively, if you suffer an injury whilst on a package holiday, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the injury suffered as well as any financial losses you have incurred as a result of that injury.
If you have any questions about a recently book package holiday or are unsure about your rights in an ongoing complaint, we offer a free initial, no-obligation appointment where we are happy to discuss your holiday concerns and provide advice tailored to your circumstances.
For an appointment at either our Rhos on Sea or Llandudno Junction office, please contact Katie Baker on 01492 588200.