15th December 2021

UKICC sounds alarm on travel contracts

The consumer advice body is warning that many consumers may not be aware of who they have signed a travel contract with.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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Even for consumer law professionals, it’s sometimes difficult to identify where the contract lies

As UK consumers pack their bags for Christmas and New Year get-aways, the UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) is warning that many people are likely to be unaware of who their travel contract is with.

There has been a 66% increase in the number of complaints received by the UKICC about travel intermediaries and booking agency services in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period last year, up from 266 to 441.

Often consumers are confused about who their travel or holiday contract is with when they approach the UKICC Centre for help.

UKICC Service Director, Andy Allen, said: “We quite regularly see problems relating to who a consumer’s contract is with when things go wrong and the consumer asks us to help with a case. Quite understandably there is often consumer confusion about who their rights are with. Even for consumer law professionals, it’s sometimes difficult to identify where the contract lies.

“But it’s important to be able to see through this confusion in order to deal with the correct people when trying to resolve the complaint.

“Each consumer case is different and it’s important for consumers to know who their contract is actually with. This has a direct bearing on whether a consumer’s problem with a trader falls within the UKICC’s remit or not. A parent company may have various trading companies or branches which are registered in different countries, so it’s important for consumers to be able to recognise which of these companies their contract is actually with.”

Confusion is sometimes confounded by another problem, generated by the traders themselves. Allen added: “From a practical point of view, it’s not uncommon to see both the traders – the services provider and the intermediary as well – failing to assist the consumer when there is a problem. It’s not infrequent for the services provider and the intermediary to each rely on the other party to sort the problem out.

“Whether this is a deliberate ploy on the part of the services provider and the intermediary isn’t clear. The effect it has is that it all adds to the consumer’s confusion, which isn’t helpful.”

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