The minimalist guide to complaining about your holiday

Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992

(For holidays booked prior to 01 July 2018) If you booked after this date please see The new Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 below.

A package holiday is defined by law as having at least two of these three components, all as part of a ‘package’ that you pay an inclusive price for: transport (such as flights, transfers etc.) accommodation and/or another tourist service which makes up a significant proportion of the package. It also has to last for more than 24 hours, or at the very least include overnight accommodation as part of the trip. As an example, a day-trip to a tourist attraction in the UK which includes entry and travel to the attraction is not covered. Holidays are Atol protected if the flight and either the hotel or car hire are booked within one day of each another.

The organiser (tour operator) is liable for the failures of hoteliers, suppliers and services within the contract. if the holiday is cancelled, the consumer is entitled to a substitute package of equivalent or superior quality (if the other party to the contract is able to offer such a substitute) or to take a substitute package of lower quality and recover the difference in the price or to have a full refund.

Redress

The organiser must not provide mis-leading information and provide details about changes as soon as possible. The consumer is entitled to redress for a variety of things dependent on what regulation has broken and when.

Loss of value, the difference between the cost paid for the holiday and the one received.
Out-of-pocket expenses incurred reasonable costs as a result of the breach of contract
Loss of enjoyment, compensation for the disappointment and distress caused by things going wrong.
Personal injury, compensation for any personal injury incurred abroad (specialist legal advice is thoroughly recommended here).

Regulations 12 and 13 refer to alterations in the package holiday or to departure times or location and are probably the most used. I quoted them here when I got Adam and Mel most of their money back.

Full details of the Act here.

ABTA and ATOL. Members of the former follow a code of conduct, so break that and you can report them to ABTA. The ATOL scheme of financial protection covers flight-based holidays. If you buy a land- or sea-based holiday such as coach, rail or cruise holiday from an ABTA member your monies will be protected by the ABTA scheme of financial protection, so if your travel company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel and hotel costs and transport home if you are abroad

ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers’ Licence. It is a government-run financial protection scheme operated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). All monies you pay for package holidays involving flights and holidays including a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, must be protected under an ATOL licence.  You will receive an ATOL Certificate at the time you make your payment, and you will need to keep the certificate safe.

ATOL cover means that if your travel company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel and hotel costs and flights home if you are abroad. Flights booked directly with airlines are not protected under the ATOL scheme. ATOL is a financial protection scheme, it does not provide other assistance if there are other problems with your holiday.

Remember, if you are unhappy with your accommodation you should complain about it to your representative as soon as possible as the company should be given a chance to put matters right. You may still be entitled to redress of course. If however you do not complain at the time you will be asked if it was really that bad as you didn’t ask to be moved.

The new Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018

These replaced and considerably modified the former 1992. The new regulations came into force on 01 July 2018. Holidays taken prior to this will be covered by the previous regulations. More details here.

If you don’t get satisfaction from customer services when you complain contact the CEO, you can find details of all the CEOs at ceoemail.com.

Look out timber frame on a beach "researching, booking and complaining aabout holidays and flights. Tips, ideas and your rights"

 

For more tips and templates about complaining about aspects of flights and holidays see How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

 

For lots more help, advice, consumer laws and template letters GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

 

How to Beat a Post Office Trick

Time for a story. Who shall we pick on this time? Let’s have a go at the Post Office and Royal Mail two different businesses in fact. The Post Office offers the Royal Mail services.

The parcel
Some time ago I helped someone with their Royal Mail problem. She had bought a bottle of perfume from a private seller on Ebay. The contents turned out to be fake. The seller agreed a full refund including postage. Not surprised given the considerable trouble she could have got into had Sarah simply reported her to certain authorities….

What's in your parcel?
What’s in your parcel?

Now, Royal Mail lost the item. No surprise there then. So, Sarah wrote to the Royal Mail and explained what had happened. Someone from the Royal Mail wrote back and said that she wouldn’t be getting a refund because she had posted a prohibited item. You can find a list of prohibited items here. Call me cynical but apart from some obvious stuff this list includes other toiletries which you may well send as gifts, so check this list before you post liquid gifts. After shaves, perfumes and nail varnishes are allowed but there are restrictions on size etc. Sarah told me that no-one in Royal Mail had asked her what was in the parcel and no reference was made to what wasn’t allowed. How many of you knew you can’t send certain after shave or nail varnish in the post? There is no information on the walls or in leaflets regarding this in the Post Office, so I think this was pretty unfair. I believe that the Post Office has a duty of care to ensure that the public knows Royal Mail policies. You aren’t allowed to send “filth” (that could be very subjective!) and no sending of human or animal remains about the UK either please. Or ice. Anyone ever sent ice? Why should anyone have to check the Internet before they post anything? How about people who don’t have the Internet? So I wrote Sarah’s letter for her, telling them exactly that and that I expected a full refund due to their failing to undertake reasonable skill and care in ensuring the public knew their rules. Matthew at Royal Mail agreed and Sarah got her full refund. Not that I got a thank you. Sarah is no longer my friend.

Other Royal Mail Complaints
Generally of course, it is letters and parcels that are acceptable to Royal Mail that go missing. If you need to complain the contact details are here. The things that are covered here and the levels of compensation here. What problems have you had with the Royal Mail (other than it being sold off too cheaply of course).