10 Commandments of the consumer on vacation
1st You’ve come to the “hot deals” – make a cold assessment
Critically read the agreement BEFORE signing. Pay attention to the so-called small print information, which are often very important (i.e. about additional fees). Always confirm the agreement clearly and keep a copy (in writing or on electronic media).
2nd Do not buy a pig in a poke …
– Do not take into account only colourful photographs in catalogues. Search the Web looking for opinions on the hotel, you are going to. If it has a lot of negative assessments, consider choosing another.
– Find the location of the town and the hotel on the map (satellite imagery, such as Google Earth.) You may find that the description “next to the beach” is far from reality, and it means daily travels for several kilometers.
3rd Can you count … do not count (on) the stars
3 *** in Cyprus are not necessarily equal to the 3 *** in Spain. Hotel standard is determined by local regulations, and therefore varies between regions of the world. In popular tourist Arab countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco) and Greece, 3 *** usually mean a modest standard (equivalent to 2 ** compared to the most European hotels). It is worth to remember while buying accommodation in one of these countries.
4th Take the magnifying glass on All inclusive
If you choose an option All Inclusive, find out what does it contain. In some hotels it means the 3 main meals a day plus snacks throughout the day and only local drinks (i.e. 22% vodka and sweet drinks from concentrate), and in others All inclusive option may also include international branded spirits and freshly squeezed juices. Make sure what you pay for.
5th Do not be afraid of last minute
Last minute offer is a full-fledged offer, so by buying a tour cheaper up to several dozen percent, we are entitled to all benefits and standard of the original offer. If you are not satisfied with a last minute trip you are entitled to claim it as any other.
Travel agencies usually sell last minute tours for several reasons:
– there are just few places left;
– travel agency booked too many places in the hotel and was unable to sell all of them in standard price;
– the customer interest in tours declined unexpectedly for various reasons (such as a recession in the economy), and the travel agency intending to reduce the loss caused by the lack of sales in general, wants to recover some of the costs so it sells the trips at depressed prices, often at a loss for itself.
6th Remember that … the insurance is important
– When choosing travel insurance, find out exactly what type of care you receive in return. Usually the cheapest insurance does not cover i.e. costs of hospitalization of the person who went there because of chronic disease (i.e. heart attack of person suffering from coronary artery disease), or treatment of a broken hand after an accident caused by extreme sports (including diving, surfing, rafting).
– If you go on vacation to one of the countries of the European Union, most of their overseas territories, as well as Norway, Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein or Iceland you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card, which will provide you with free medical care in case of emergencies. It is limited in scope, so you should also take out additional private insurance.
– If you rent a car abroad, make sure it is fully covered by insurance. While choosing a promotional offer with the cheapest insurance you may find that in case of accident an insurer does not cover 100% amount of the damage, but only a part of it.
7th Weigh your baggage
– Learn about the kilograms limit (usually 15-20 kg per person). For hand luggage, do not pack: scissors, nail file and other sharp objects or liquids, ointments (drinks, perfumes, lotions) with a capacity greater than 100 ml. This also applies to foods such as yogurt and homogenized cheeses.
– Mark baggage, especially the principal one, by placing tags on it or a sticker with your phone (remember about the country dial code), name and address.
– When you receive luggage, make sure it is not damaged and there is nothing missing. In the event of damage or delay of baggage – while still at the airport – complete the Property Irregularity Report (PIR) and keep a copy of it. Then lodge a complaint within 7 days on receipt of a damaged baggage, and 21 days from the finding of a delay of baggage.
8th Use the principle of limited reliance
Never accept the carriage of goods belonging to others. It happens that in this way someone wants to make smuggling, and in case of control you will carry legal consequences.
9th Enforce your rights if something goes wrong
– In case of delay or cancellation of flight, airlines are obliged to provide you with information and care (free drinks, meals, even accommodation if the delay takes night or longer).
– When a standard of the hotel room was different than in the offer (i.e. lack of air conditioning, great distance from the beach, noise, etc.) make a claim to the organizer by using the so-called table of Frankfurt. Although it is not a formal document, it helps to determine how much a trip price could be lowered for the various inconveniences.
– For the confirmation of claims it is worth to have evidences: photos taken on the spot, confirmation from the resident, etc.
10th Contact phones keep on hand
Write down the name and telephone number of the resident from your travel agency. It is worth to keep contact details for your national consulate or embassy in a country of your stay.
SOS in case of problems
When holiday turned out to be not quite perfect … following institutions will assist you in claims:
– The European Consumer Centre: when a foreign travel agency or the carrier fails to respond to the complaint, and the airlines lose or delay the baggage;
– Civil Aviation Authority: When a flight is delayed, canceled or the boarding has been denied;
– Provincial Marshal’s Office: examines the travel agency if we lodge a complaint i.e. in connection with the non-compliance of service with the contract or lack of response from the travel agency within 30 days;
– Consumer Ombudsman (county, city): helps in the event of a dispute with a travel agency registered in the country of consumer.
More information: www.konsument.gov.pl