With the dormant Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) due to close down completely this Wednesday (31 August 2016) legislation in Ireland may indicate the ideal way forward.
When travel companies fail, Irish consumers are perhaps the world’s best protected. The enlightened situation there is something Australia’s State and Territory ministers responsible for consumer protection might well study and emulate.
In one recent case, the collapse of mass-market online tour organiser LowCostHolidays, many consumers in Britain were not covered because the collapsed company had transferred its headquarters out of Britain into Spanish jurisdiction. See: Massive collapse puts spotlight on consumer protection
Irish consumers, however, have found themselves in a much more fortunate position.
Despite LowCostHolidays being domiciled in Spain, sales in Ireland appear to be covered by Irish legislation which requires travel companies selling in Ireland to be licensed and bonded there. That means that more than 3000 Irish customers who booked flight-inclusive packages with LowCostHolidays are likely to get a full refund.
The deadline for registering is generous as well – two full months from the date of the collapse. Irish authorities have informed customers of LowCostHolidays Spain S.L. that they have until Monday 19 September 2016 to submit their claim form to Ireland’s Commission for Aviation Regulation.
Those filling out the travel/accommodation refund form must provide personal details, information on their itinerary, insurance and how they paid. They need to submit documentation, such as receipts, invoices, bank and credit card statements showing the original purchase.
There’s an expenses form, where consumers need to list any items they had to pay for out of pocket such as food, transport and accommodation.
Full details can be read on the commission’s website here.
The generous provisions under Irish legislation contrast starkly with the situation in Australia, where following the dissolution of the TCF, travel consumers in a similar position often stand to lose all their money without hope of compensation.
Travel agents in Ireland pay EUR 300 (AUD 444) a year to the Commission for Aviation Regulation for their compulsory licence and bond. Tour operators there can pay more, depending on turnover. In return for that, the public has peace of mind and the knowledge that if they deal through a travel agent, their money and their travel will be protected. For agents, that means goodwill.
Written by Peter Needham