Consumer champion MoneySavingExpert.com has updated a story in which it incorrectly told its website readers that package holiday bookings through third-party agents are not protected by Atol.
It had posted a story on its site – which attracts 16 million users every month – stating: “If you’re making a [holiday] booking through a third-party travel agent, you WON’T have Atol protection through the provider”.
Tour operator packages booked via travel agents are covered by the Atol of the tour operator.
Under new Package Travel Regulations introduced last year, holidays put together by a travel agent must also be covered by Atol – even if a flight and accommodation or car hire are sold separately.
Some agents have their own Atol, others sell through an Atol-accredited body and others sell only tour operators’ holidays – but whichever they do, the holidays they sell are protected by Atol.
A screenshot from the article was originally shared on social media, prompting agents and industry leaders to share their concerns.
When contacted by Travel Weekly, a spokesperson from MoneySavingExpert.com said: “Thanks for flagging this – you’re quite right.
“Unfortunately the original version of the story got this bit wrong and it’s now been updated.”
Travel agent Ashley Quint, from Travel Time World, spotted the error and pointed it out to MoneySavingExpert.
“A lot of legislation in travel isn’t necessarily the easiest to follow, so sometimes people could have a different perception of it,” he said. “When it’s misrepresented it doesn’t do us any favours”.
He said the post could also be troublesome to trade-only tour operators, who may get enquiries from customers now trying to avoid agents.
Quint added: “I think for someone outside the industry looking in, it highlights the blurred lines consumers have between tour operators and agents and defining what each does.”
As a professional travel agent, it saddens me that @MoneySavingExp doesn’t seem to understand the ATOL regulations. If an agent books you with an ATOL bonded tour operator, you’re covered – simple. pic.twitter.com/hjMgiutMf3
— Ashley Quint ✈
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