Travel agents beware. The BBC’s hugely popular One Show is getting its teeth into the thorny issue of what protection the travel industry provides for its customers’ payments.
I’m told the show’s consumer champion Dominic Littlewood – he of the catchphrase “Don’t get done get Dom” – is preparing his latest investigation following recent agency and operator collapses.
He tried it before a few weeks ago but made something of a hash of it, suggesting Atol protection was somehow different from the protection the CAA offers.
I’m told he has enlisted the help of top industry experts this time, but whether he gets it right or not the show is unlikely to cast the industry in a good light.
If BBC viewers start getting more fired up and knowledgeable about the financial security the industry provides then you can be sure your customers will too. Shockingly, few people can consider themselves experts on this complex issue, and I certainly don’t count myself among them.
So David Speakman’s attempt to bring some clarity to the issue through new website Ismymoneysafe.co.uk is to be welcomed, even if it is partly motivated by commercial self-interest.
As we heard at this week’s Grant Thornton travel seminar, Atol protection is now basically voluntary. Tui is the latest to stop covering some sales under it and other firms are looking to follow suit. Depressingly, despite the recent government consultation nothing is expected to change until late next year or even 2012.
Ministers might be forgiven for thinking they have more important things to deal with. But underestimating the importance of ensuring security for many voters’ biggest annual financial outlay may cost them dear.
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