Travel companies need to ensure their customers have consented to all additional payments added to the price of their holiday, to ensure compliance with the new Consumer Contracts Regulations, which came into force on 13 June 2014.
Travel companies however, may not be aware that their customers won’t have consented if they don’t change the ‘default option’ if booked via the company’s website. Also the new rules don’t apply to package holidays but they do apply to the sale of flights, accommodation, car hire and flight and hotel where it is sold as a flight plus. This is likely to be confusing for some customers so transparency about all charges will be the best option going forward.
Under the new rules if the company hasn’t obtained consent for all additional payments, then they will have to provide the client with a refund.
Travel companies can still use pre-select additional payments but they must be compliant with the law on unfair trading. Customers shouldn’t be misled and if the company has applied pre-selected additional payments, then the customer needs to be made aware that these are optional and they can be removed. Do not make the client tick a box to say they do not want them. Where you offer extras, show the prices and let the customer select them.
Going forward it may be better for travel companies to quote the full price in their headline prices so customers can see from the beginning of the booking process what the full price is likely to be and then make an informed decision about what services they would like to purchase.
Other changes that affect the industry under the same legislation – and which also came into force on 13 June – include a ban on premium rate phone lines. The ban applies in some instances, but again package holidays are excluded. The ban covers customer helplines, which must be charged at the basic rate but doesn’t apply to other phone lines, such as sales lines.