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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Holidaymakers get fairer contract terms
Looking at brochures
New brochures must not contain unfair terms
Three of the UK's biggest tour operators have agreed to change their contract terms so they are fairer to consumers, the trading watchdog has announced.


The OFT is still working with a number of other operators to change their terms

John Vickers, Office of Fair Trading

The Office of Fair Trading said that MyTravel (Airtours holidays), Thomson, and First Choice had agreed to amend terms that were in conflict with the package travel regulations.

The companies have now agreed to revise a range of terms relating to surcharging, cancellation rights and compensation, an OFT statement added.

The changes will appear in the next reprints of their brochures.

In the meantime, the companies will not be allowed to enforce any of the disputed terms within their existing contracts, a curb seen as good news for holidaymakers.

Surcharging

John Vickers, director general of Fair Trading, said: "Holidaymakers with Airtours, Thomson and First Choice now have greater peace of mind that they will get fair treatment.

"I welcome this move. The OFT is still working with a number of other operators to change their terms."

The changes are far reaching.

The OFT said Airtours had agreed to end surcharging on all holidays.

Thomson and First Choice, however, have decided not to end surcharging.

Instead, they have agreed to pass on reductions to consumers if the cost of the holiday falls by more than 2%.

Compensation

Consumers will be compensated for greater amounts if they have suffered any loss, as a result of significant changes being made to a holiday, before it has started, the OFT said.


Until now, booking conditions have been loaded against the consumer

Patricia Yates, Holiday Which?

They must also offer compensation to consumers if there has been a significant change to the brochure's description of the facilities.

And tour operators will no longer be able to insert a clause in their contracts excluding liability for facilities that are unavailable out of season.

Longer to complain

Tour operators will no longer be able to deny liability for complaints received more than 28 days after the holiday has ended.

In addition, the OFT said tour operators will no longer be able to limit liability for lost or damage baggage to 400 a person within their contract terms.

The move was welcomed Patricia Yates, editor of Holiday Which?.

Ms Yates said: "Until now, booking conditions have been loaded against the consumer and Holiday Which? has raised that fact both to the holiday trade and to consumers.

"It has taken a long time and a lot of pressure to secure the changes and, hopefully, other operators will now follow suit."



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