Wednesday, April 09 12:31:13
The European Consumer Centre in Ireland today advised consumers to be cautious when booking holidays through third party websites this summer as the number of complaints soars.
Complaints about booking sites accounted for 50pc of all accommodation and air passenger queries received in 2013, an increase of 68pc on figures for 2012.
As the countdown to summer begins and many consumers look to make arrangements for their holidays, ECC Ireland is encouraging travellers to be vigilant and make sure they do their research before making a booking.
Third party booking sites are proving an increasingly popular option among consumers. They allow visitors to compare different rates and deals on hotels, airlines, and other services before booking, thereby allowing them to make a more informed decision.
However, they can also cause considerable confusion if something goes wrong. Many consumers who book through such websites are not certain as to whether their contract is directly with the booking site or with the service provider, leaving them unsure as to where to turn in the event of a problem, ECC said.
In most cases, third party booking sites facilitate the online processing of reservations for accommodation and travel services. They provide a space on which the services of airlines, hotels, and other suppliers are displayed and facilitate the booking with the provider. This means that when a consumer makes a booking, his/her contract will usually be directly with the service provider and not with the booking website, ECC said.
Consumers are advised to closely read the terms and conditions attached to the booking website. These should clearly set out the exact nature of the contractual relationship and any additional information such as modification/cancellation procedures.
However, consumers should also ensure that they read the terms of the service provider, as these may place additional requirements on the booking - for example, an airline may demand certain specific documentation from a passenger, but the booking site may not necessarily inform them about this, ECC said.