Travel agents aren’t as clued up on holiday protections as they should be according to new research, which highlights Ryanair and eDreams as the worst offenders.
Which? Travel’s latest investigation found that the two travel agents gave incorrect responses to the majority of questions about consumers’ rights and holiday cover when quizzed by secret shoppers, getting just five out of 15 answers right.
One Ryanair employee couldn’t explain what a package holiday was, claiming that the caller’s trip didn’t constitute a package because the “hotel was provided by a third party”: this turned out to be Ryanair Rooms. The flight and the hotel were being booked as part of the same transaction.
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The travel watchdog targeted seven of the UK’s leading travel agents, making three calls to each one to ask five questions per call.
Other brands didn’t fare too well either, with British Airways Holidays, Lastminute.com and Travel Republic only getting eight questions right apiece.
Expedia managed 11 correct answers, while Trailfinders came top with 12.
Questions included asking whether a holiday was Atol-protected and whether it was a package – factors which determine the level of protection a consumer is getting for their holiday. While Atol offers financial protection if a company goes bust, a package guarantees more comprehensive legal cover, including if the holiday isn’t as described or if it’s disrupted by a natural disaster.
“The regulations mean that your travel agent is legally bound to put right a problem while you’re abroad, or compensate you once you’re home,” said Which? Travel.
It has presented the investigation findings to the government department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, plus the Civil Aviation Authority, calling on the latter to crack down on travel companies that mislead consumers about how well their holiday is protected.
A spokesperson for eDreams told The Independent: “As soon as we were made aware of this investigation, we immediately launched a thorough review to ensure that we meet our demanding standards to deliver excellence for our customers.
“Our customers are our number one priority and our customer services team is continuously trained to provide them with the most up to date information on a range of topics.
“The information our customer services team provides on travel protection has now been reviewed to ensure it is communicated in the most clear and comprehensive manner.”
The Independent has requested comment from Ryanair.
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