Which? spells out agent and operator differences to consumers

Consumer website Which? has updated an article relating to customers’ refund rights for holidays cancelled as a result of coronavirus to explain the difference between a travel agent and tour operator.

The updated page, which says travel agents are ‘breaking the law by refusing or delaying cancelled package holiday refunds’, focuses on STA Travel and Tui, as well as OTA (online travel agent) Loveholidays.

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Abta’s has issued guidance to members advising them to issue refund credit notes, for which customers can claim a cash refund after July 31.

Richard Dixon, co-founder of homeworking firm Holidaysplease, and Richard Slater, North West chair for Abta, and owner of Henbury Travel, had both contacted Which? saying the article had failed to distinguish between travel agents and tour operators, which was unfair on agents selling a tour operator packages for which they are not in charge of the refund terms.

Which? has now added a sub heading called ‘tour operator vs travel agent’, which explains to consumers:

“You’ll need to make sure you are claiming from the right company as well. This will usually be the company that sold you the package. It is in the case of Loveholidays and STA Travel, but there are exceptions. Loveholidays and STA Travel, like many of the larger holiday companies act as a travel agent (they sell you the holiday) and tour operator (they actually provide the holiday).

“But some travel agents only sell packages put together by other tour operators – and in this instance it is the tour operator that you need to approach for a refund. The easiest way to understand who you should be claiming from is by checking the Atol certificate. It will say ‘who is protecting this holiday’.”

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