At issue were an Alaska cruise tour in one case, and an “adults only” tour free of children and young people on a Greek island in the other.
The Australian case revolved around a day in Alaska and was brought by six Melbourne travellers who booked a Australian Pacific Touring (APT) trip to Canada and Alaska in 2010. They were disappointed when they found themselves visiting the settlement of Sitka, home to the Tlingit people and known for its Russian Orthodox church, instead of Skagway, gateway to the Yukon.
They had their hearts set on visiting Skagway, which they thought was part of the trip, so they sued Flight Centre, which sold them the holiday, for a total of $9999 in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. They maintained that they did not get what they paid for, the Melbourne Age reported. They considered Sitka a day wasted.
It turned out that for the tour the Melbourne group bought, which left 18 May 2011, a note in the brochure pointed out that the cruise would leave from Seattle instead of Vancouver – which entailed a stopover in Sitka, not Skagway. But anyone wanting full details of the itinerary had to turn to page 103 of the brochure.
Tribunal member Anna Dea said she considered that “the value to these applicants of wasting a day at Sitka is at least half of the daily value of the tour”. Accordingly she awarded damages of AUD250 to each of the six tourists – rather less than they had hoped for.
The British case concerned a Thomson Holidays advertisement in the UK. The promotion for the Atlantica Grand Mediterraneo Resort and Spa in Ermones, Corfu, claimed it was part of Thomson’s “Exclusively for Adults” range, offering “total tranquillity in a resort free from the bustle of families and young people”.
When a guest booked the property, however, she was annoyed to find children had been booked in.
Thomson agreed children were staying at the resort during the complainant’s holiday, but said it was “unreasonable” to expect that this would never occur because it could not prevent people booking children in as adults, Britain’s Independent newspaper reported.
It turned out that the hotel was caught in a double bind, having found that it was obliged to take bookings from a few families with children after receiving a warning from the local authority following a complaint about the matter.
Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld the complaint and noted that Thomson could not guarantee that children would never be present in the hotel.
They ruled that the claims were misleading and that the ads must not appear again in their current form. The ASA has no power to fine anyone, though for repeated breaches it can refer cases to authorities who have that power.
Thomson said later it had taken steps with the hotelier to ensure that the “no children” rule was enforced at the hotel. It was a “very rare occurrence” and clients who wanted a child-free holiday would receive one.
Written by : Peter Needham