European Consumer Centre

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Package tours with foreign tour operators

May I withdraw from the travel contract concluded with a foreign company? May I conclude a contract with a German tour operator on the Internet? May I require a price reduction if anything goes wrong? What is a Frankfurt chart of price reductions? ECC has prepared several pieces of advice for those who may decide to buy a package tour abroad. Czechs do so more and more often due to the greater choice of package tours and advantageous prices and they often choose German companies.

What is a package tour?

Package tour means a pre-arranged combination of not fewer than two of the following when sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price:
a) Transport
b) Accommodation
c) Other tourist services not ancillary to transport or accommodation and accounting for a significant proportion of the package

Which rules apply in the whole Europe?

In each EU state, package tours are regulated by strict rules whose common minimum standard is stated for all member states by the Council Directive 90/314/EEC. Yet the rules may differ in details, they have to maintain the common minimum standard and always be in favour of the consumer.

Should you travel with a Czech tour operator, the Czech law regulates your relationship even though you travel abroad and services are provided by foreign business partners of the tour operator. If you choose a foreign travel agency and the place of boarding is located outside the Czech Republic, your travel contract will usually be regulated by the law of the state the travel agency resides in.

Also in case of foreign organizers you can rely on the key rules already known to you from the Czech Republic, especially:

• Right to accurate and comprehensible information on services being part of the package tour

• Obligatory insurance of the organizer against bankruptcy

• Organizer’s obligation to a proper performance of obligations arising from the contract, irrespective of whether such obligations are to be performed by the organizer himself or by its contractual partners.

• Strict rules for the situation when the organizer intends to increase the price of the package tour and the right of the consumer to withdraw from the contract if the organizer increases the price.

• Obligation of the travel agency to provide assistance to the consumer in case of emergency situations such as nature catastrophes Attention, these rules do not apply to the services purchased separately, e.g. separately purchased air tickets and accommodation.

When purchasing package tours in Germany

German tour operators (organizers) are very popular among Czechs. In the following you can find answers to the questions most frequently asked by consumers.

• Is it possible to conclude a travel contract via the Internet?
Yes, it is. Many consumers do not realize that by filling in and sending an order form on a website they may have concluded a contract which is naturally binding for them. Although you have not paid any amount and you have changed your mind, you may be obliged to pay the cancellation fees. Since August 1 2012 the so called button solution applies in Germany – the obligation to label the button for an online order with an expression pointing out the consumer’s duty to pay (e.g. kostenpflichtig buchen). In case of unclear or no labelling of the obligation to pay, the contract is not concluded.

• May I withdraw from the contract prior to the departure date?
Yes, you can. Should you withdraw due to the causes on your side, it is necessary to count with the duty of payment of cancellation fees. This also applies if you cannot participate due to serious disease, loss of employment or any other reason you may not have caused. For such cases, it is advisable to consider the possibility of purchasing cancellation insurance. You may also transfer your booking to a person who satisfies all the conditions applicable to the package.

• I am not satisfied with the quality of the services provided. What can I do?
You have to lodge a claim with local representative as soon as possible (e.g. for exchange of your room). Complaint at the hotel reception may not be sufficient since the organizer’s representative should always be informed and asked to remove the defects. We recommend you to ask for a written confirmation that you´ve addressed your claim to the representative of the tour operator. In the confirmation, the defects should be described accurately. You should gain as much evidence as possible (photos, contacts on witnesses, etc.). Should the defects be serious you may withdraw from the contract and in such a case the travel agency is obliged to arrange your return home. In other cases price reduction may be requested after your return home. Before you decide to withdraw from the contract, arrange your own accommodation or transportation, you should first set a reasonable period of time to the tour operator to resolve your complaint.

• Is there any time limit for claiming a price reduction?
Under the German law you need to lodge a claim within 1 month of contractually foreseen end of the package tour. (1 month period also applies under the Czech legislation)

• What price reductions can I claim if the package tour was defective? If the defects were not rectified on the spot and you have not withdrawn from the contract, you can claim price reduction after your arrival home. For the amount calculation it is convenient to use the Frankfurt chart of discount as general guidance. The final authority in determining the amount of discount is undoubtedly the court.