Package Holiday Deals Unfair Terms
When you book a package holiday you are booking everything that you need for that break. This includes flights, transfers, accommodation and activities. You are going to hope that the contract and terms of this booking are completely fair, however, there can be some Holiday Deals Unfair Terms included in package travel contracts that you need to look out for.
So, what can you do to look out for the unfair terms in the package holiday deals and is there any legislation which governs these contracts?
Legislation Governing Package Holiday Contracts
If a company supplies or promotes package holidays need to be aware of the Package Travel Regulations 1992 and the laws that are specified within these Regulations.
These Regulations provide guidelines within which businesses and individuals can sell travel packages as well as the rules that must be adhered to in the process too.
You will often find when you book a package holiday, you will be expected to have read through a number of terms and conditions that apply to the package holiday and then show your agreement to these terms.
If you purchase the package through a travel agent then you will often be given a hard copy of the terms and conditions and you will be required to sign them at the bottom to show your agreement.
Packages bought online will have an online copy of their terms and conditions which you will have to mark as being read before you enter your credit card details to pay.
It is safe to say that some of these terms and conditions (if not all) will be there in order to protect the interests of the travel agent, rather than being there to protect the consumer. You do not have any say in these terms, they are put in place by the business and if you do not agree to the terms then you cannot buy the package.
That said, these terms should reflect the business obligations that are within the Package Travel Regulations, if they don’t, then there is a good chance that they could be deemed as unfair within the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations.
This is particularly true if any of the standard terms could mislead the consumer when they are signing up to the entire package.
What happens if a term is found to be unfair?
If a term is deemed to be unfair with the Regulations, then it will become void and the customer will not be bound to it. It doesn’t matter if they have signed a contract including this term, it will still be disregarded.
In order to deem a term as being unfair, it will need to be looked at by a court. There are two main things that will be taken into consideration by a court when trying to establish whether a term is unfair or not. They are:
- The test of fairness
- The plain language requirement
When a term is placed in a contract it is expected that they are fair. This means that they should not create any significant imbalance in the rights of all the parties who are entering the contract.
For the term to be seen as being unfair to the consumer, the imbalance in the rights and obligations are going to be at a detriment to the consumer, whilst protecting the rights of the business.
There is also the requirement of good faith, which means that a business must deal in a fair and open manner with all their customers. This means that the contract should contain terms that are simple and that are not designed to adversely affect the rights of the consumer.
They still should serve their purpose in protecting business needs, but fairness is still something that needs to be taken into account.
What terms should I be looking out for?
So, knowing the chance that there could be unfair terms in your package holiday contact, what should you be looking out for? There are three main areas that you should look at the terms that relate. This includes:
- Transferability of the contract
- Acceptance of responsibility for statements made by travel agents
- Responsibility for errors in travel brochures
Transferability of the contract
As a part of the Package Travel Regulations, a travel agent must provide the opportunity to transfer the holiday to another person if the person who bought cannot go on holiday.
This could be due to illness or death of a close relative or someone who was due to go on the holiday. If they do not give you the chance to transfer the contract of the holiday, then this could be seen as unfair.
Acceptance of responsibility for statements made by travel agents
There is a very good chance that you are not a travel expert, which means that not only do you rely on the travel agent to ensure that you have booked a holiday to a quality destination (as well as one that is safe) but also that the finer details of your break are good quality too.
This includes the facilities at the resort or complex, as well as the distance to the beach and the transfer times.
If you notice a term within the contract which will limit or even exclude anything that relates to statements that they have made, then this could be seen as being unfair. This also covers spoken word, if it is deemed to be unfair under the Regulations.
Responsibility for errors in the brochures
Brochures are part and parcel of booking a package holiday. They are essentially the chance for the travel agent to show you exactly what you will find at a resort or a complex.
The only trouble with brochures is that they can quickly become out of date, this is because the industry is constantly changing and shifting. If there is anything that is different to what is shown in the brochure, then it is down to the travel agent to advise you of these changes.
If they have tried to include a term which limits their liability for the changes that need to be made, or should have been made to the brochure, then these can be seen as unfair under the Regulations.
It can be hard to remember to read through all the terms and conditions when you are excited about booking a holiday, it is important that you pay attention to some of these terms, as failure to do so could end up ruining your holiday and even costing you money in the long term.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.