National Consumer Week

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
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There will be greater travel protection next year

This week is National Consumer Week, a week in which there is supposed to be publicity of consumer issues. So far, all I have seen is a warning about automatic renewal memberships such as those employed by some gym clubs.

News about consumer issues in the travel industry haven’t come to the fore but the week is young and there is still time.

Although EU261 is a European Union rule enabling a person to claim if their flight is delayed or cancelled, the British government suggests that it will bring the law into British law after Brexit. In the main, the law works well for consumers but some airlines are reluctant to pay out in a timely manner and almost need to pulled screaming and shouting before they follow the law. Consumers would welcome a tightening of the legislation so that airlines had to pay up within a set period or face a doubling of the compensation due or some other deterrent that would make them act. In return, claims agencies could be limited to taking a smaller amount as their fee or all airlines could carry the relevant claim form on their website making it easier for claimants.

Next year the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 will be replaced by an updated law (European Package Travel Directive) that takes into account changes in marketing (particularly internet sales) sine the previous law. It will bring within the regulations, for example, a situation where you buy a flight and then the airline sells you accommodation it has arranged through a third party supplier.

The new data protection law (called GDPR) to apply from next May means that travel companies cannot mail you, e-mail you or contact you by phone unless you agree unless it relates to the holiday that you have bought from them. How long they hold your details is probably not dependent on this law but others so, for example, you can claim under EU261 for up to six years in arrears so an airline could justify keeping you on file for six years.

If you have a complaint against a member of ABTA they have a disputes policy. If that doesn’t succeed, you can use an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) company provided the company you are arguing with agrees.  But ABTA has a contract with just one provider. Shouldn’t you be able to choose? The whole area of ADR needs clarification for the consumer as much of it seems skewed to the company rather than the consumer and it starts with your choice of an ADR company.

Those are just a few of the issues facing travelling consumers. There will be improvements next year but there are still problems to be overcome as well.

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