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Beware the 2 nights/3 days trap

NEXT TIME you decide to go on a holiday, beware of the "two nights/three days package" bait offered by travel agents. There is every possibility that you will get cheated by a day.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 01:28 IST

NEXT TIME you decide to go on a holiday, beware of the "two nights/three days package" bait offered by travel agents. There is every possibility that you will get cheated by a day.

The catch invariable lies in the fine print: the embarkation and disembarkation timings. This means, the schedule is fixed in such a way that one minute of service costs you a day. For example, you have to take a flight to, say, Singapore, at 23.59 hours but that one minute before the next day is counted as one day.

One such case came up before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission -- about a couple taken on a trip from Bangalore to Singapore and then on a cruise to Malaysia and back. They had been promised a 2 nights/3 days Singapore-Malaysia cruise by the travel agency. On their return, they filed a petition in the District Forum saying the cruise trip was of two night and only one-and-a-half days. They said they had been misled by the schedule.

The District Forum upheld this view and ordered the tour operator to pay Rs 50,000 compensation. This was challenged by the operator before the Karnataka State Commission -- they lost -- and then before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission -- they lost here too.

The commission said what the travel agency did "amounts to equating one minute of service with the service of 23.59 hrs. Can one minute service ever be construed as a full day service?"

Welcoming the judgement, Rajji Rai, secretary, General Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), says it sends the right signal to errant travel and tour operators.

Sanjay Narula, of APEX Travels says often tour operators do not give accurate information. And the catch is hidden in "asterisk". He says this unethical practice happens more in international tours as the agents take advantage of flight schedules and different time zones. Sanjay Datta, managing director of Airborne Travels cautions the customer: "The catch lies in the terms and conditions apply clause. It is a protection against litigation and compensation."