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Passenger treatment to be fairer under Government proposals

Will changes bring fairer system for airline passengers?

The Government is proposing changes to the current EU Denied Boarding Regulations (EC261). Aviation Consumer Policy Reform consultation.  These regulations, in place since February 2005, entitle passengers to significant rights if their flight is delayed, cancelled or they are denied boarding. Travellers are entitled to fixed amounts, depending on the length of the flight and delay or cancellation.

The Government proposes to change this to allow claims for compensation based on the length of the flight delay and linked to the cost of travel. Currently this varies from 2 hours late for trips up to 1500km up to 4 or more hours late trips over 3,500km. Rates range from 125 Euros up to 600 Euros.

I believe the current system buys into the ‘compensation culture’. Genuine redress and goodwill gestures should be proportional to the amount spent but the current regulations do not take this into account and therefore low cost airlines are hardest hit. A fairer system for both business and consumers has to be a good thing. Although it may save airlines money the devil will be in the detail of any changes. Increases would risk increases in fares. It looks set to be percentages in line with rail and ferries. But the savings the airline make need to be spent on improvements for consumers not line the pockets of the airline shareholders.

ADR in the airline sector

The Government is also considering making Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mandatory for airlines. Currently there are two voluntary schemes in the airline sector. Consumers can take a complaint to an ADR provider and the company is bound by the decision, although the consumer isn’t.

Consumer bodies such as Which? have been calling for ADR in the airline sector to be mandatory for some years. In the CAA consultation on ADR in October 2020 Which? said

“… the CAA must ensure it makes the existing ADR schemes work better for passengers. The regulator should step up scrutiny of existing ADR bodies, and ensure greater transparency for the complaints handling process. It must also improve its requirements for data reporting and encourage airlines to act on their complaints data.”

Both Which? and I have previously recommended that the ADR provider be an ombudsman as this is appointed and monitored to a higher standard than other ADR provider schemes. (See Further information about ADR below.)

Airline Travel Assistance

There are also proposals to improve the travel experience for disabled travellers including by ensuring that travel assistance is always free and removing charges for wheelchairs and mobility equipment. I welcomed the proposed changes, saying that in general the proposals will bring greater equality to all travellers.

Further information about ADR

See More Ombudsman Omnishambles: The UK ADR landscape 20 months on… by Helen Dewdney and Marcus Williamson. February 2018 and Appendix J. This is an extract from the minutes of the Ombudsman Association Executive Committee meeting, 5 May 2017 that demonstrates how the standards required to be an ombudsman are higher than for other ADR providers.

For more information on  see ADR research, articles, investigations, consultation responses and reports. over the last 7 years.

CAA launches consultation and tells no-one… consultation into ADR. CAA hadn’t informed stakeholders.

Help with holiday/airline complaints

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Business Latest News Topical

Should awards companies get awards for misleading claims?

During 2021 I undertook an investigation into corporate awards. Are all awards equal? Some are clearly only paid-for marketing tools. And there are awards across all sectors too.

silver trophy award

As part of this investigation I came across the “Product of the Year Award”. I discovered that Product of the Year charges £18,000 to enter its award! The company running the award claimed that the prize was worth more than £800,000 in marketing benefits.

See ASA investigation forces change of wording on awards claim. Product of the Year removed this claim after my complaint.

Established in 1987 in France, Product of the Year is a global company operating in over 40 countries around the world.

I made a further complaint in November 2021. The company’s website featured this claim:

“Winners typically see a strong sales uplift immediately following their win, as 86% of shoppers are more likely to buy a product bearing the Product of the Year logo, and we have a logo recognition of 64% across the country. Sales tend to uplift by 10-15% on average, with some brands seeing increases as high as 135%.”

I believed they were misleading and questioned whether they should be substantiated. So, I alerted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the claims.

Following an intervention from the ASA, Product of the Year has agreed to remove the claims from its website.

The ASA announced its decision today, 26 January 2022, stating that the case had been “informally resolved”.

“Product of the Year” has now removed both of the misleading claims from its website.

I contacted the company for comment but at the point of publishing it has not responded.

Organisations such as Product of the Year, which seem to be misleading both businesses and consumers, should be more careful in the claims they make and in the advertising material that they publish.