My ill son got a raw deal on his refund – can you help?
Q My son has been recently hospitalised and unfortunately is too ill to go on holiday from 2 to 10 June this year to Turkey. The package holiday cost £687 but he has been offered a refund of only £230 through his travel agent. I feel this is unjust! Can you help?
A I am sorry to hear about your son’s health and I hope he makes a good recovery. The standard advice – which he may have
already have been offered – is to claim on travel insurance. I infer from your enquiry that, for whatever reason, that is not a possible avenue. (As I mentioned in my answer to yesterday’s question, taking out insurance at the same time as paying for a holiday is the best plan; but I recognise that in many cases this does not happen.)
Nevertheless, you and your son have a reasonable case for feeling you have been treated unjustly with a potential loss of over £450. The key is that he booked a package holiday, with flights and accommodation arranged in a single purchase. That makes the trip subject to the Package Travel Regulations 2018, an excellent body of law that provides extensive consumer protection. In particular your son has the right to “transfer the package travel contract” to anyone who is able to take the holiday instead of him. He must give at least a week’s notice, and the travel company is allowed to charge a fee – though this must simply reflect the cost of making the name change. Many firms charge £50 per person. Even with the fee, it is plainly worth seeing if friends or family are able to take the holiday off his hands for a mutually agreeable sum.
You or your son should remind the travel agent of the existence of this rule (it’s article 9 of the regulations) and perhaps politely enquire why the option was not suggested in the first place. One possible objection is that if flights are booked with a budget airline, that company’s change fees will amount to hundreds of pounds. My reading of the Package Travel Regulations is that inflated charges are not legally sustainable in this context, but your son might have to resort to law to test the strength of this defence. Good luck.
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