Cancelling an eight-day tour booked by a Walkeshwar family and not providing them with the Indian food promised during another trip amounts to deficiency in services, ruled a district consumer forum last week.
The forum has ordered tour operator, SOTC, to pay a compensation of Rs1.3 lakh to Sandhya Vakil and her five relatives for failing to provide them with the assured facilities during a trip in May 2006.
The tour operator will have to pay Rs20,000 to each of the six members of the group for deficiency in services and an additional amount of Rs10,000 towards cost of litigation within one month.
Vakil and her relatives had booked an eight-day Bhraman Mandal tour advertised by SOTC in March 2006. Within a few days of booking, their agent received a call from the tour operator that the cost had gone up by Rs11,200 per head.
After each member paid the amount, on April 23, 2006, they received tickets for a five-day trip and with the wrong dates.
They were then informed that the operator had cancelled the holiday package. The family then opted for a trip to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and paid more for the same.
The tour operator had assured the group that they would be served Indian food cooked by their own chef during the trip. However, the family claimed that they didn’t even see an SOTC chef.
They alleged that the tour was chaotic and sought a refund for the entire amount, along with compensation, on the grounds that they were not treated properly and the accommodation provided was not proper.
SOTC, on the other hand, maintained that the tour was conducted as scheduled, and there were no shortcomings. The operator also maintained that they were within their right in cancelling the Bhraman Mandal tour due to insufficient number of tourists and increasing the tour cost.
The forum, however, held that none of the terms and conditions printed on their brochure enabled them to cancel the package (after accepting the booking) and increase the cost unilaterally. It also found fault with them for not providing information required for obtaining medical insurance for two senior citizens in the group.