The information requirements for phone bookings under the new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) are “ridiculous” and “irrelevant”, according to Abta, which is advising members against fully complying.
Abta director of legal services Simon Bunce told a Travlaw Package Travel Seminar in London on Tuesday: “If you don’t do this strictly according to the regulations, there isn’t much consumer detriment, but trading standards may get uppity.”
The regulations, which came into force on July 1, require customers to receive extensive information before completing a booking.
The PTRs spell out the information an agent or operator “must provide the traveller…using the form and wording set out” where “the contract is to be concluded by telephone”. It runs to 580 words in addition to 18 pieces of information on booking and contact details.
Travlaw partner Farina Azam said: “It isn’t great from a customer-booking perspective. Legally, you should read out all the information, but it would take a long time. You need to work out how to fit this into the booking flow. We have clients who email customers during a phone booking.”
If a client doesn’t have email, she advised “read out the key points”.
Bunce said Abta had told the Department for Business (Beis), which is responsible for the regulations: “This is ridiculous.” But he said: “Beis is adamant you have to read this out.”
He suggested members “have this information on your website and in your brochure” and refer to it “as a part of your script”. He added: “There is a risk you could be prosecuted by trading standards, but it’s a low risk. It’s telling you the benefits of booking a package. The customer gets these rights anyway. It’s irrelevant.”
Failure to provide the information is technically an offence and could lead to a fine.
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