Lawlink: Holiday Hell

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Limerick solicitor Alex O’Neill answers your legal queries each week in the Limerick Post.

Q: My wife and I are just home from our holiday. It was our first trip abroad in a number of years, so we were able to spend a little bit more than we would have ordinarily. Flights and travel on the way out were generally okay, but the accommodation was very sub-standard. We have small kids, so having a kitchen and clothes washing facilities was essential. These were not provided, despite what was indicated to us prior to booking. We complained but nothing was done. Our flights were almost 20 hours late on the way back too. Our kids were very upset – as were we naturally. Is there anything that can be done from Ireland?

Dear Reader,

I’m wondering if yours was a package holiday. Package holidays are regulated by the EU. When you booked your package holiday, you should have received a contract from the tour operator which will generally set out your rights as regards issues with your holiday.

It’s important that you make a complaint to the holiday rep or travel organiser as soon as you can. The tour operator is entitled to a chance to put matters right at no extra cost to you. I always advise making a note of when these kinds of reports or complaints are made.

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If you got no satisfaction from the holiday rep, check and see if you have photos or videos of the items that caused you dissatisfaction. Make sure that copies of these photos or videos are shared with the tour operator.

You should lodge a complaint with the operator within 28 days of returning home. The precise details of how you can lodge a complaint should be contained in the contract the travel organiser gave you on booking of course.

If the travel organiser does not deal with the complaint, you can refer the matter to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, who investigate such breaches.

However, if the travel organiser refuses to offer compensation or other remedy to put the matter right, you can take the matter to the small claims court or the district court.

With regard to the delayed flights, there is a separate EU regulation governing this. The amount of compensation varies depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight.

It can vary up to €600 per person. Quite apart from financial compensation, you are obliged to what is known as “care and assistance”, which might include meals and refreshments, telephone calls and – if the flight becomes very delayed – hotel accommodation and transport to and from such accommodation.

If you are in any doubt, please do refer the matter to your solicitor.

Send your legal queries to [email protected] or by post to Alex O’Neill Solicitors 22 Barrington Street, Limerick. The column is a reader’s service and is not intended to replace professional advice. No individual correspondence will be entered into.