Consumer Protection Law
Last 16th November a new general law was published for the protection of consumers and users and which, amongst others, reflects European Union Directives 98/27/EC and 2005/29/EC.
Any renouncement to the rights acknowledged in favour of consumers and users by this Law is null and void as well as those acts that fraudulently attempt to avoid the application of the legislation, that is, those acts that by use of another rule intend to avoid the application of this Law.
Due to the fact that various other aspects of this Law have been commented upon in other articles, in this article we would like to take the opportunity to comment specifically upon the rules applicable to so-called package tours. This Law is applicable to the offer, contracting and execution of holidays, tours and package tours. The payment of parts of the same tour separately does not exempt the organizer of the obligations contained in this Law.
The term package tour refers to a prior combination of at least two elements (transport, accommodation and accessory services) sold or offered for sale on the basis of a single price when the offer is made for more than 24 hours or includes one night of accommodation.
The organizer must provide the consumer a program or an information pack that includes in writing the corresponding offer with regard to the package tour and that must clearly and concisely include the following information:
a) Destination and means of transport with an indication of their characteristics and class.
b) Duration, itinerary and calendar of the trip.
c) List of accommodation with indication of their type, category or standard of comfort and their principal characteristics such as their tourism classification in those countries in which official classification exists.
d) The number of meals that will be served and if this is the case, the drinks or number of drinks that are not included in the service.
e) General information with regard to the conditions applicable to the members of European Member States with regard to passports and visas and the health care formalities necessary for the trip and stay.
f) Final price of the package tour, including taxes and estimated price of the excursions.
g) Amount or percentage of the price that must be paid as an advance of the total price and the terms of payment as well as the conditions of finance in the case that this is offered.
h) If for the package tour a minimum number of subscriptions are needed, a deadline must be given for informing the consumer or user of a possible cancellation.
i) Clauses applicable to possible liabilities, cancellations and other conditions of the trip.
It is also important to highlight the new regulations regarding the cancellation of the contract by the consumer or user. What happens in these cases?
In accordance with the new legislation, the consumer may, at any time, cancel the services applied for or contracted with the right to reimbursement of the amounts paid, although the organizer of the tour must be compensated for those sums that are listed below unless the cancellation is due to force majeure.
a.- The payment of those management costs, cancellation costs (if there were any) and a penalty comprising 5% of the total amount of the trip if the cancellation is made with more than 10 days and less than 15 days notice from the date of the start of the trip, 15% between three and ten days and 25% if the notice was given within the 48 hours immediately prior to the date of departure.
If the consumer does not actually depart, he/she is obliged to pay the total price of the package tour paying those amounts pending payment unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
b.- In the case that the package tour was subject to price conditions such as for the providing of flights or special prices, the costs of the cancellation will be established in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed between the parties.
It is also important to know that those actions established in favour of the consumer prescribe after two years which means that in any of the cases described above, no claim can be lodged after two years have elapsed from the cause of the potential claim.
Article courtesy of Fernando ALiaga, Abogados, Javea
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