UOKiK reported on Wednesday that the covid law has provided support for tourism entrepreneurs who have found themselves in a difficult situation due to restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
As confirmed by the office, many tourism services were not provided during the pandemic, for example due to closed borders, movement restrictions and suspended flights. Travel vouchers were a new form of settlement between travel agencies and consumers. Instead of getting cash back, travel agencies can offer customers a voucher equal to the prepaid amount.
The bureau reported that as a result of consumer signals, the head of UOKIK took a closer look at tourism organizations, checking how coupons are settled in practice.
“Doubts were raised about the terms of the regulations regarding informing customers of tourist vouchers, in particular those that could be misleading as to their right to redeem the unused value of the voucher either during its validity or after its expiry date” – indicated the office.
The activities of the head of UOKiK covered ten travel agencies: Best Reisen Group, Coral Travel Poland, Ecco Holiday, Exim, Grecos Holiday, Consortium of Polish Travel & Travel Company Trade & Travel Company, LTM Luxury Travel Management, Nowa Itaka, Orient Travel, Rainbow Tours and TOP Touristik and TUI Poland as well as the entrepreneurs cooperating with these companies.
“As part of the explanatory actions and speeches, it was possible to change the practices of travel agencies without the need for formal administrative actions” – explained the office. He also added, in the case of Orient Travel’s activities, UOKiK demonstrated that it did not provide consumers with coupons regulated in covid law, while LTM Luxury Travel Managemet issued a few at the express request of customers, with no additional conditions applied.
The head of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, Thomas Crostini, said the office had analyzed terms of contracts, regulations and guidelines applied by travel agencies; It also examined how consumers were informed and how they applied coupons issued during the COVID-19 pandemic in practice.
– We called on ten out of twelve entrepreneurs surveyed to refrain from practices that violate the collective interests of consumers and remove the effects of their use. Thanks to the open attitude of businessmen, it was possible to remove illegal provisions. Consumers are entitled to refund the value of the unused tourism voucher – Chróstny said.
UOKiK reported that the travel agencies surveyed had acknowledged UOKiK’s chief reservations and voluntarily eliminated provisions that mislead consumers and prohibited provisions in model contracts.
“The companies also undertook to return the unused voucher values after the expiration date or at any time at the request of the customer” – the office reported.
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