WATCH: Booking a holiday for 2018? Here’s everything you need to know about your consumer rights
We look forward to our holiday in the sun all year, so we want to make sure it all goes according to plan.
Here’s all you need to know about your consumer rights.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) may not be able to prevent sunburn, mosquito bites or rainy days, but they can provide you with all the information you need on your consumer rights when booking holidays, travel insurance and renting a car.
Most of us have, at some point, had a negative holiday experience, whether the accommodation just didn’t measure up, flights were delayed making us miss connecting flights or an issue with our rental car. That’s why forewarned is forearmed and Áine Carroll, Director of Communications and Market Insights with the CCPC has some tips for you on what you can do if something goes wrong.
Most of us book our holiday accommodation online these days so there a few things to be aware of. Make sure you do your research says Áine; “Reading reviews of accommodation before you book is important because if you find bad reviews of a place after you’ve booked, it can often be too late to change your mind”.
If you are booking self-catering accommodation, make sure the place actually exists. Find it on Google Maps and then look for any reviews you can find. Never transfer money unless you know the listing is genuine. Only pay a deposit if you know that the place is genuine and be careful about giving away your credit card details.
If you’re booking through a third party platform and the host asks you to book directly with them for a discount, be wary. These sites give you certain protections that don’t exist if book directly with the accommodation host or owner.
“When you go on holiday,” says Áine, “It’s important not to leave travel insurance until the very last minute. Give yourself time to do enough research”.
If you do it at the last minute you might not have time to compare different policies and look at the costs and benefits. It’s important too that you check any excess on a policy so as not to get any nasty surprises should you make a claim. Having your insurance in place in advance may also mean that if you have to cancel your holiday, you may be covered. It’s also really important that you make sure you’re covered if you want to do any activities while you’re away such as skiing or scuba diving.
If you tend to go on more than one holiday a year, an annual or multi-trip travel insurance policy can work out better value.
If you book a package holiday with a travel agent, you are under no obligation to buy travel insurance with them. You may have to prove that you have sufficient cover but you do not have to buy from them.
“If you book a package holiday with a tour operator you have specific rights under consumer law that do not apply if you book the various elements yourself,” explains Áine. Meaning it’s up to the tour operator to ensure your holiday goes smoothly and that all the elements they said they would provide are in fact provided adequately.
With a tour operator, if something significantly changes, like your flight is cancelled or there’s a problem with your accommodation then it’s up to the tour operator to put it right for you.
Hiring a car
Hiring a car abroad is one of the areas that consumers can have problems with. Make sure you look at the contract and read the small print before you book. You’ll need to understand what your level of insurance cover is and what the excess is on any claim. When you hire a car there is usually basic insurance included in the price and that might have a very high excess. You have two options, you can purchase extra insurance from the car hire company or you can buy car hire insurance from an insurance company. It’s worth sorting all this out in advance so you don’t get bamboozled into buying expensive cover at the car collection point.
When you pick up your car you’ll get a document with any damage to the car marked on it. Make sure all the damage is marked on the car diagram and take plenty of photos and videos that show the true condition of the car. If there is damage that isn’t marked up on the diagram, go back to the desk and get it rectified before you drive off. Check also what the fuel policy is on your rental car because it can vary by country and company.
If you’re travelling in Europe, using your credit or debit cards will cost the same per transaction as it would at home. However, if you go outside of Europe, there will be additional charges. Using your credit card to take out money from an ATM is one of the most expensive ways to get foreign currency and should be avoided if possible.
If you’re travelling abroad it is a good idea to notify your bank of where and when you are going. Banks will have security measures in place to alert them of any unusual transactions associated with your cards so letting them know you’re going away in advance can mean you avoid having your cards blocked while on holidays.
We all deserve a holiday and we all deserve for our holiday to go well. Check out the travel guide on ccpc.ie to find out what you need to know when booking your holiday. Happy holidays!
The CCPC is an independent organisation responsible for making sure competition works throughout the economy for consumers and businesses in Ireland. It is also responsible for enforcing consumer law. Another part of what the CCPC does is give independent information to consumers about their rights, including when you travel, to help consumers make informed decisions.