No special law to help deal with unfair travel contracts
A relaxing holiday at the yearend can keep you going for the whole of next year. But from the e-mails that I have received from readers, it seems like many dream holidays have been ruined because of the negligence of tour operators. They want to know if there is a law to deal with the issue.delhi Updated: Dec 31, 2011 23:05 IST
A relaxing holiday at the yearend can keep you going for the whole of next year. But from the e-mails that I have received from readers, it seems like many dream holidays have been ruined because of the negligence of tour operators. They want to know if there is a law to deal with the issue.
Well, only those countries, which understand the importance of a good holiday, have rules defining the rights of travellers and obligations of tour operators. For instance the European Council Directive on Package Travel protects consumers from unfair terms in contracts and holds tour operators liable for mishaps during the holiday. The directive is being revised to reflect the needs of consumers in a better way.
Similarly, tourism industry associations in many countries offer mediation and arbitration for resolving consumer complaints, for example The Association of British Travel Agents. But the travel and tourism industry in India does not provide any such facility. Nor do we have a special regulation to protect consumers from unfair terms. So, here, the rights of tourists are defined by the Consumer Protection Act and judgments of the consumer courts.
The order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Arnab Kr Sarkar Vs Seema Travels (RP No 2130 of 2000) deserves a mention because here the commission showed sensitivity towards the feelings of disappointed tourists.
Sumit Kumar: My colleagues and I had planned a trip to Kerala and Tamil Nadu from December 3 to 11. We made hotel bookings at Cochin, Munnar, Thekkady, Kumarakom and Kanyakumari through a travel portal on November 11. But when we reached the hotel in Thekkady, we found the portal had not reserved rooms for us, forcing us to rework our accommodation. Subsequently, the portal sent an e-mail saying that it would refund the payment, but even that has not happened despite several phone calls and e-mails. Can I go to the consumer court? Do I need to hire a lawyer? Since the transaction was carried out online and the confirmation voucher does not show any jurisdiction detail, in case of a dispute, which consumer forum should I approach?
Answer: The territorial jurisdiction of the consumer forum would depend on the postal address of the travel portal. You don’t need a lawyer. However, I would suggest that you first write to the portal, asking for refund and compensation. It also needs to pay for the extra expenditure as a result of the failed arrangements for accommodation. You can also quote the case that I have mentioned above. If there is no positive response, seek the intervention of the Mediation Centre attached to the consumer courts and run by the Delhi government (KG Marg:. 011-23381759 and 011-23381736 ). firstname.lastname@example.org