As the mercury rises heading into the summer season, holidaymakers are urged to know their rights in order to avoid vacation headaches.
The European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland has issued the warning on the one year anniversary of the EU Package Travel Directive.
The directive was introduced to give stronger protections to consumers who book pre-arranged package holidays.
However, many consumers are not aware of their rights when something goes wrong on their trip, according to press and communications manager for ECC Ireland, Martina Nee.
“The way consumers book their holidays has changed drastically over the last few years. We’ve gone from nearly always booking through our local travel agent to going online, looking for deals, and preferring the flexibility of booking the various elements ourselves,” she said.
“The new directive was brought in [on July 1, 2018] to factor this in. It isn’t new, but many people are not aware of what rights they might have. We have received a huge variation in consumer queries relating to things like accommodation - for example, getting a double room instead of a twin room, or not getting interconnecting rooms when that’s what was booked. Often, consumers don’t know who to actually complain to.”
As well as protecting the more traditional pre-arranged packages, the EU rules also cover customised packages. Linked travel arrangements, where holidaymakers book one travel service but are then invited through a targeted ‘click-through’ link to book another service within 24 hours, also have certain financial protections under the directive in the case of insolvency of the travel service provider.
“People often don’t know if they have booked a package or not, so we are advising all consumers to check the terms and conditions to see what they have booked,” Ms Nee said.
“Your travel organiser is required to give you certain information, including any changes made to your booking. So it’s important that consumers liaise with their travel organiser and report any problems to them immediately, rather than just saying it to the hotel manager at their destination, for example. We also encourage consumers to gather evidence if there is a problem, like taking photos of their room if it is not as described, and to follow it up with a formal complaint within 28 days.”