By Jacob Magri – Paralegal
A few days ago, the Malta Consumer Association published a set of guidelines both to assist those consumers who had their holiday cancelled as well as those whose holiday has to date not been cancelled but have instead been offered a voucher by their travel operator.
The Association explained that the law that protects consumers when their holiday has been cancelled by the travel agent is still in place as are the applicable consumer rights. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of package tours have been or are being cancelled and this has affected many consumers.
As regards package tours that have already been cancelled, the position is dependent on what has been agreed between the consumer and the tour operator.
Regarding package tours that have not yet been cancelled, the consumer is entitled to a cash refund, as per national law and the applicable EU norms, as long as a number of conditions are met. Alternatively, several operators are instead offering vouchers in replacement of the deposit made, which voucher must be used within a specified period. The Association warned that it is important that consumers read carefully all the applicable conditions to the voucher and insist that these are given in writing. In doing so consumers will be in a better position to safeguard their rights. The association further advises that consumers insist on the following conditions:
1. That the termination date of the voucher should be at least by the end of 2021;
2. If the voucher is not used by the end of the validity period of the voucher, the sum paid is to be refunded at the end of the validity period of the voucher;
3. That such voucher is transferable.
The guidelines published also illustrate the advantages and disadvantages for consumers who wish a refund of any money paid or else who opt for a voucher.
The guidelines which can be found on the Association’s website at www.camalta.org.mt were prepared after the Association consulted with BEUC, the European consumer organisation.
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