ABTA is to change its Code of Conduct to make it an offence for travel agents to tell customers to pick up brochures from a competitor’s shelves.

The move comes as an ABTA agent representing NatWest Travel Services enraged ARTAC agents by urging customers to pick up brochures from high-street rivals (see story below).

The association has written to the Government for permission to add a clause to the Code following a catalogue of complaints from ABTAmembers that rivals, particularly direct-sell organisations which do not have stocks of brochures, are pointing customers in the direction of their high-street agency to pick up brochures.

ABTA legal advisor Simon Bunce said six complaints have been made in the past two months.

He said: “We want to add a clause in our Code of Conduct which will say this practice is not acceptable because it is encouraging customers to go out and take other companies’ stocks.These companies pay good money to rack brochures and have shop fronts and this practice is just not on.”

ABTA wrote to the Office of Fair Trading on Friday, and Bunce said he expects permission to be granted in the next two weeks.

Bunce said any agents who were found to be in breach of the new Code would have to face the Code of Conduct Committee which may issue the member with a reprimand or fine.