Dreadful Holiday? Cheer Up, at Last Your Moans Are Being Heard ; Three Schemes Aim to Make It Easier for Travellers to Complain. Oliver Bennett Reports
Bennett, Oliver, The Independent (London, England)
MAKING A complaint about your holiday is becoming easier, thanks to a new raft of initiatives. The first is from ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, which has re-launched its arbitration scheme alongside the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), to provide "a lower- cost and more effective alternative to going to court".
Under the scheme customers will be able to submit claims via the internet - and get them dealt with more quickly. ABTA promises that claims will now be processed in less than two months, compared to the usual eight to nine months, and it does not involve going to the small claims court. The maximum amount that can be claimed has been raised from pounds 1,500 to pounds 5,000 per person.
"We aim to decrease the hassle for the consumer by resolving disputes in a speedier way and without the anxiety and expense of going to court," said Keith Richards, ABTA's head of consumer affairs. "Few people want to go to court, and the arbitration scheme aims to keep them one step ahead."
The facility can be used by anyone, provided the holiday they have been on was provided by an ABTA-bonded company. Mr Richards estimates that the costs for the process will be to similar to, if not less than, resolving your dispute through the small claims court.
There is also the holiday website holidaycomplaint.com, which is a year old and recently came of age by registering Thomson Holidays as a respondent - the first of the so-called big four travel comp- anies to do so. The site enables consumers to post complaints online, and if possible, for the tour operators to comment on the case. The idea is that consumers will be able to surf the site to see if there are complaints before they book or to refer consumers to a host of other sites, where they may be able to start legal action. …