Robert asked: We recently booked a holiday with an agency, but six weeks prior to the due date, the agency told us it had to cancel the agreement because of infrastructure problems with the apartment we had booked.
We were offered the choice of alternative accommodation at about five of their properties, none of which met with our approval.
The agency maintained that they were not responsible for any compensation, nor were they liable for any extra cost we incurred by booking something more expensive. Can you comment on this issue of booked holiday accommodation from this country when it is cancelled by the agency?
We asked Which? Legal Service about your rights when booking a “package” holiday:
When you do and don’t have a package can be very complicated, but if you booked a holiday which is comprised of two or more elements – usually transport and accommodation – and you didn’t have the option to buy them separately, chances are you will have a “package”.
If you ask an agent for flights and are quoted a price and then add a hotel, then chances are you won’t have a package and will instead have one contract with the airline and another with the supplier of the accommodation. In this situation, you won’t have protection afforded by the Package Travel Regulations.
Normally travel agents just facilitate the booking of a package holiday and a contract will exist between the consumer and the holiday company for the provision of that holiday. In that instance the agent couldn’t take the decision to cancel the booking as they aren’t a party to the holiday contract – only the consumer or the holiday company could bring it to an end and the booking conditions and the Package Travel Regulations will say what happens if either do.
The holiday company may have cancelled the booking, but asked the agent to communicate its decision to consumers. If this happens, the Package Travel Regulations provide three options:
- A full refund
- A cheaper package, with a price adjustment (if one can be provided)
- An alternative package that is of comparable or superior quality (if one can be provided).
The Regulations also say that “where appropriate” the consumer can also claim compensation. Whether or not it’s appropriate will depend on a number of factors, including whether another holiday can be found or whether the consumer is facing two weeks in their back garden when they should have been on the beach!
It’s not out of the question that the agent may have put a package together; if they have then you’ll have all the above rights, but against the travel agent.
Have you ever booked a holiday package with an agent, just to have part of it cancelled? Did you feel you were treated badly, or were all your needs catered for?