A senior industry lawyer has urged travel companies to stop using the term ‘dynamic package’ as it misleads customers.
Peter Stewart of Field Fisher Waterhouse, an expert on Atol regulation who has acted for Abta and Travel Republic against the Civil Aviation Authority, said “If you use the word package at all it will be impossible to convince a court that a company is not selling a package.”
He told a travel and tourism law conference in London yesterday: “If you do not want to sell packages, you have to be pretty clear about what actually is being sold. A company must inform a customer whether they are buying a package.”
Stewart said: “Clearly a company may want to represent something as if it might be a package holiday as there might be a marketing advantage. But you can’t have your cake and eat it. Merely saying in the booking conditions that ‘We do not sell packages’ will not be adequate.”
He said “a number of online sellers” offer merely a tick box referring to their booking conditions just before a customer books. “You would need to trawl down the conditions to see ‘We do not sell packages’,” he said.
If a company offers ‘holidays’ for sale, Stewart said: “You would need clarification on a website. A ‘package holiday’ is a legal term and a ‘holiday’ a colloquial term, but it is confusing for the consumer.”
Referring to the new Flight-Plus Atol to be introduced from January, Stewart said: “Flight-Plus should not be confused with a package. The CAA has introduced this so it can work around packages. You may wonder why Flight-Plus was not introduced five years ago.”
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