The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new campaign aimed at Welsh holiday and travel businesses on the clarity of their terms and conditions. The ‘Small Print, Big Difference’ campaign is being run in partnership with the lead associations representing the holiday and travel industry, including ABTA – The Travel Association, UKHospitality and the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) amongst others.
As holidaymakers get ready to make the most of the Easter break, the CMA’s campaign is calling on holiday and travel businesses to ‘check in’ and make sure they are using fair terms and conditions in their customer contracts. It also encourages businesses to be upfront and clear with their customers about charges and fees, especially in the event of a customer cancellation.
Under consumer law, businesses may be entitled to ask customers to pay a cancellation fee to cover their losses, but the amount they keep must be in proportion to what they are losing. Cancellation terms that don’t follow this approach are likely to be unfair and businesses cannot rely on them to resolve claims or disputes with customers.
A national survey of 2,000 people by Ipsos Mori, released by the CMA today, shows what members of the public feel should happen if they have to cancel a trip. Results for Wales show that:
Another example is when a business insists on a large cancellation fee which bears no relation to the actual losses it experiences from the cancellation. A term is more likely to be fair if it clearly explains how a charge reflects what a business will genuinely lose from a cancellation, and the way this charge is calculated is reasonable.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said:
“The CMA’s campaign has followed legislation aimed at providing crucial accuracy and transparency for both businesses and customers. It is vitally important that our customers have full confidence when they make a booking with a hotel, a restaurant, a B&B or any other hospitality business. A clear understanding of terms and conditions can help foster an open and responsive relationship that gives our customers peace of mind and boosts businesses.”
The CMA’s campaign invites Welsh businesses to ‘check-in’ on their terms to make sure they’re being fair to their customers, by using the CMA’s advice to help them review their contracts. A new website (www.gov.uk/fairterms) contains accessible advice and information for businesses on unfair contract terms law and what they can look for when reviewing their terms and conditions. In addition, the CMA has produced detailed guidance to help businesses and their legal teams understand how to apply the law.
1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. For CMA updates, follow us on Twitter, @CMAgovuk, Facebook and LinkedIn.
2. The Consumer Rights Act 2015, in force from 1 October 2015, contains provisions that aim to protect consumers against unfair contract terms and notices. It applies to wording that lays down the rights and responsibilities of consumers and businesses when entering into agreements with each other. It also applies to consumer notices (often used, for instance, in shops and car parks as well as online).
3. A consumer can challenge an unfair term and seek redress through the courts, if unsatisfied with the business’s response after following its complaints procedures. The CMA, Trading Standards Services and other relevant bodies also have powers to pursue legal action to stop businesses using terms and notices that are unfair. If necessary, this can be achieved by seeking a court order.
4. Consumers who have experienced a problem with a business can get advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 or 03454 040505 for Welsh language speakers. Consumers can also report an issue to their local Trading Standards Office.
5. Enquiries on this press release should be directed to Lauren Broughton – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07725 865063