Since 2005, there has been a great deal of debate about whether a holiday is a Package or not! In this article we will try to guide you simply on this matter so that you can decide whether their claim applies to you or not.
Since the 1950’s, Package Holidays have been popular with British Holidaymakers, simply because of the convenience that they offer in bundling together a flight and hotel. Through that period there were many examples of poor or failed holidays often sold with terms and conditions that claimed that the travel companies were agents. Even within those terms and conditions, they even had clauses that dealt with so-called DIY holidays and they also claimed that they were not responsible for the failures of those holiday products. This led to the introduction of the Package Travel Directive and this was incorporated into UK Law in 1992 under the Package Travel Regulations.
The Regulations defined what made a Package Holiday:
- At least 2 components;
- Offered at an all-inclusive price;
- Covering a period of more than 24 hours, or
- An overnight stay;
- And the components include:
- Other tourist services not connected to a or b
- The provision of separate ‘accounts’ or invoices for the components will not make it anything other than a package;
- If you request a particular combination for the construction of the package, it will still be classed as a package!
That seems pretty clear then – you would think so!
Since 2005, the Travel Industry has tried to avoid obligations in the Package Travel Regulations by claiming that the internet has presented new ‘dynamic’ challenges and Consumers are now their own travel agents!
This has confused the matter, particularly by the fact that media and politicians have generally failed to note and challenge that travel companies are simply trying to operate as they did before the regulations, only this time they are wearing a new coat!
In 2008, the government produced a guide as to what constitutes a Package whilst the EU Commission works on producing a draft that removes any problems in this area.
There have been several small cases brought before the courts and it is clear that the ‘perception’ of the Consumer is what counts!
So in order to determine whether you bought a DIY holiday you have to understand what a strict DIY holiday is:
- If you buy a flight from one provider;
- Buy a hotel from another provider, and
- Pay a separate price for each item;
- That would be classed as a true DIY Holiday.
Consumers will take advantage of buying online and when doing so they will often see the choices stated as:
- Flight & Hotel;
- Flight Only;
- Hotel Only;
- Car Hire.
Most observers would agree that ‘Flight & Hotel’ suggest a Package or a ‘bundled’ holiday, whereas the other choices suggest that you are buying separate components.
There is then the buying process:
- Is it seamless – in other words do you move from flight to hotel without any notice that you are buying separate items?
- Did you see clear warning notices that you were not buying a Package Holiday?
- Did you see the terms and conditions and were you alerted to the fact that you were buying from an agent?
- Did you pay one price?
If you answered 1) Yes, 2) No, 3) No & 4) Yes to the above questions, then it is likely that you believed that you were booking a Package Holiday.
Another consideration is your own buying habits:
- Have you always bought Package Holidays?
- Is it always your intention to buy a Package Holiday?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to both questions, we would argue that this is evidence that suggests that you believed that you were buying a Package Holiday unless there was something very clearly advising you that you were not; such a notice would have to be very clear and unavoidable!
Even if you answered ‘No’ to one of those questions, it could still be argued that you believed from what you saw and how you engaged in the transaction, that you bought a Package Holiday.
Why is this important? Quite simply, if you can show that you have bought a Package Holiday, then you can rely on the protections of the Package Travel Regulations; if you have a DIY Holiday, then you would have to deal with each contract and supplier in the chain!
If you are in this difficult area with a Travel Provider, then use this guide to argue why you believe you were sold a package Holiday and lay claim to your rights under the Package Travel Regulations!
Tip: If you are booking on-line, take screen-shots of each page you land on, starting with the home page – save them and print them off – this will then form part of your evidence when a dispute arises!