The consumer’s guide to surviving some of the top summer fun fails
It’s summer and we’re all out and about, jetting off here and there, relaxing on a glorious beach, dancing till dawn at a festival or concert, or exploring some exciting city or country retreat. Yep, it’s great isn’t it, except when it isn’t! Sometimes, despite all our meticulous planning and crystal ball gazing things just happen, and unfortunately there’s only one thing we can do, and that’s to try to minimise the adverse effect it has on our holidays, reduce our stress levels and the danger posed to the poor unfortunates around us, and hopefully be in a better position to rectify the situation either then and there, or later on when we get home.
The consumer success story of the month looks at how ECC Ireland helped consumers get expenses of more than €1,000 reimbursed after a flight was cancelled and there was rerouting issues. The consumer query of month involves a consumer who, after booking a ferry sailing, noticed a pricing discrepancy between the intermediary trader she booked with and the ferry service website.
You can download your free June eBulletin PDF here or, alternatively, read on to find out more.
Five ways to survive, or preferably avoid, the most common summertime consumer problems
1. Check for restrictions placed on resold tickets:
A ticket to that ‘must-go-to’ concert, festival, or sporting event has suddenly become available and yeah, it’s more expensive, but ‘sure, why not’ says you. Well, you could be forking over a lot of dosh and not actually get into the venue. In a bid to tackle ticket touting and the selling of over-priced tickets, some artists, promotors and organisations are placing quite a lot of restrictions on tickets recently. Some of these restrictions have included the requirement to present the purchasing credit card, or photo/photocopy of it, and ID to reflect the family name on the ticket. For example, in the run-up to the massively popular Ed Sheeran Irish tour, organisers Aiken Promotions published a statement which included the following:
So, if you’ve bought your ticket from God-knows-who John/Jane Doe and you’ve made no arrangements to comply with these restrictions then you could be left out on the street. You should also bear in mind that when you buy from an individual, as opposed to a business, then consumer rights do not apply. Other restrictions can relate to the actual site that you bought that ticket from, even if it’s a legitimate secondary reselling site. Ed Sheeran fans were warned that if they bought ‘unauthorised’ tickets from a secondary reselling site they would be denied entry. More recently, football’s world governing body FIFA has said categorically that tickets bought from the same site would be cancelled once identified. Where possible, you should buy tickets through the official channel or authorised sellers only. Always check promotor/event restrictions and recommendations.
Check out this article, ‘Don’t get stung buying tickets online for your summer concerts and festivals’, for more advice on tickets.
2. Include the rental car in your holiday snaps:
It’s always a good idea to take some pictures of your car rental when you’re picking it up from the car rental location and dropping it back. And we’re not talking about selfies showing off the rental to all your social media followers!
What we mean is for you do a spot check of the vehicle, making sure that there is/isn’t damage and then taking a picture/video of your inspection. Do this even if there is a car rental rep also doing an inspection. Unfortunately, ECC Ireland hears a lot of reports from consumers about alleged damage and they often have a lot of difficulty proving their side of the story. It’s better to have photographic/video evidence to show that you didn’t cause any damage, and/or you complied with other policies such as returning the car with full tank of fuel (pic of fuel gauge). So, get snapping those car picks!!
3. Don’t forget your receipts:
While being able to jet off here and there is so easy these days, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. There can be flight delay or cancellation, and so you could end up stuck in the airport longer than you expected or must trudge to a hotel and wait for the next flight. Regulation (EC) 261/2004 provides for certain rights including the right to care and assistance when there is flight cancellation or flight delay of two hours or more. Care and assistance means that the airline must offer meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time, hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation where a stay becomes necessary, and two telephone calls or emails. If, however, the airline is not able to provide this, and you must make your own arrangements then it’s extremely important for you to retain all relevant receipts so that you can get these expenses reimbursed later.
Not keeping your receipts may not be the only problem. The airline will only fork out for reasonable expenses so please please please don’t go on a crazy spending spree!
4. Expect the unexpected:
When you’re booking the various elements of your holiday online always pay using a secure method such as credit card. Why? Well, the answer is simple; if it turns out to be a scam or there is a problem with the order, for example that gorgeous villa by the sea doesn’t actually exist or that swimwear doesn’t arrive, then at least you’ll have the option of going to your bank/credit card provider to see if you can avail of chargeback. You should also get yourself some travel insurance. This is not just to cover illness or injury. What if something happens and you can’t go on holiday, or something else goes wrong while there? If you can’t get redress from the trader, you can’t avail of consumer legislation, or you’re caught by the terms and conditions then it would nice to have something else to turn to, just in case!
5. Where to get travel and consumer advice in just a few clicks:
When something happens on holiday it’s understandable that you can get stressed and frustrated trying to figure out what to do and what your rights are. It’s at times like these that you need easy-to-understand information made available to you quickly.
- The ‘ECC-Net: Travel’ app, which is available to download for Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Windows, provides a range of useful information and advice on common problem areas encountered abroad.
- The Flight Rights Calculator, developed by ECC Norway and the Norwegian Consumer Council, can help you find out what your EU air passenger rights are for flight problems such as delay, cancellation, overbooking/denied boarding, and/or baggage issues.
Consumer success story of the month:
A group of eight passengers were due to fly from Carcassonne to Dublin on 2nd March. However, the flight was cancelled and the earliest rerouting option offered by airline representatives was for six days later. The consumers checked the airline’s website and found that seats were available for 4th March with a stopover in Barcelona. They informed the airline of this discovery but received no reply. Wanting to get home sooner rather than later, the consumers went ahead and booked the flights for the 4th. They contacted the airline to claim additional expenses totalling €1,193.13 but the airline only refunded the unused flight ticket. After contacting ECC France, the case was referred to ECC Ireland who contacted the airline on the consumers’ behalf pointing out that while compensation was not payable due to extraordinary circumstances, the consumers were still not offered the rerouting option for the 4th and/or care and assistance. The airline reviewed the matter and provided reimbursement of incurred expenses in full.
Consumer query of the month:
Q: I booked a ferry trip through an intermediary website based in the UK for a trip from Dublin to Holyhead. The booking was confirmed but then one of my travelling companions noticed that the same trip was advertised by the ferry service at almost €300 less than what we were charged by the intermediary. I want to know if I must pay this more expensive price or can I request the difference between the two prices back?
A: Whilst the contract conditions, including the price and the refunds policy, vary from trader to trader, as they are generally free to set these, they must also comply with consumer protection legislation (e.g. requirements to inform about the product’s main characteristics; the extent of the trader’s commitments in relation to the sales process; consumer’s consent to any extra payment in addition to the remuneration agreed upon for the main contractual obligation). Further, passenger transport services offered to the public by traders in the EU, whether by carriers, travel agents or ticket vendors, must not discriminate on grounds of nationality or the place of establishment.
We would suggest examining, in addition to the description of the service contracted and the actual terms and conditions, the way the price was presented (e.g. basic price; extras) and the representations made by the intermediary (e.g. best price guaranteed, or similar price advantage).
In any case, we would advise you to contact the intermediary to see if there was an error with the tariff provided by the ferry service, the basic price, or otherwise. It would be a good idea to take screenshots of the booking process showing that while the details of the two bookings are the same, the prices quoted are very different. All of this may help to shed some light on why this significant price variation occurred, and what redress you may be able to request, if applicable.
Press and Communications Manager
The European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), which covers 30 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland), and offers a free and confidential information and advice service to the public on their rights as consumers, assisting customers with cross-border disputes. ECC Ireland is funded by the European Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the European Consumer Centre cannot be held responsible for matters arising from any errors or omissions contained in this publication. The information provided is intended as a guide only and not as a legal interpretation.
© 2018 – European Consumer Centre (Ireland), CLG incorporated in Ireland, No. 367035, Registered Charity No. 20048617 – CHY14708. Located at MACRO Centre, 1 Green Street, Dublin 7.
This ebulletin was funded by the European Union’s Consumer Programme (2014-2020).
The content of this ebulletin represents the views of the author only and it is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture, and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.