Travel Counsellors sets up Atol helpline for agents

Travel Counsellors sets up Atol helpline for agents

Travel Counsellors has set up a helpline for all UK agents who need help or advice about new Flight-Plus Atol rules.

The Bolton-based agency which has a network of over 700 UK-based homeworkers has opened up the service as new Atol Certificates came into force this week.

From Monday agents must by law issue customers with one of three types of Atol Certificate, depending on the nature of the purchase, the moment any money changes hands.

But doubts about the degree to which agents and operators are prepared to issue these certificates have led to widespread concern and confusion.

Travel Counsellors commercial director Kirsten Hughes said: “Although as an industry we welcome these changes as a step towards improving financial protection for agents and their customers, the legislation still suffers from exceptions and exclusions, which in turn has created much confusion.

“Therefore, we have set up a dedicated free-phone number and e-mail address for any agent within the industry to use if they want clarity or have any questions about Atol.

“It is in all our interests that the industry acts with one clear and professional voice, and we believe that our experience over the last nine months with Flight-Plus should be shared with any agent who feels confused or wants more clarification.”

Travel Counsellors was the first UK travel body to have Flight-Plus accredited status confirmed on it by the regulator, the CAA.

Hughes said that exclusions in the reformed consumer protection scheme has continued to leave some agents unsure as to the level of cover they can offer.
 
She added: “We now have protection for all those holidays that comply, but booking outside this criteria leaves customers at risk. Airlines and therefore flight-only is, with some exceptions, excluded from the scheme.

“The onus of protecting the customer now lies with the arranger of the holiday rather than the component parts of that holiday and the risk of a domino effect could put more agents in jeopardy, which consequently would affect customers who bought product that was not licensed and no longer had the ABTA agent safety net.
 
“We want to advise agents of these rules and how they apply when making a booking, what they should actually be issuing to customers and also what they should be advising their customers in terms of how they are protected, such booking component parts with the same agent where possible to ensure they are covered and the exception of ‘click-throughs’ within the scheme.”
 
Agents who have any questions can call 0800 0934946 or e-mail atolagent@travelcounsellors.com.

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