Chapters of the article
Check what the travel agent promised you
If you’re considering a complaint or claim about your holiday, we recommend starting with the contract and going through what the agency promised you. Unfortunately, the possibilities of making a complaint about a tour are limited to a certain extent by the fact that they are linked to the services that are calculated in the contract.
According to the Civil Code, a touris defective if it is not provided “in accordance with the contract.” Failure to comply with the parameters of the tour as calculated in the contract is therefore the main and most common ground for complaint. The reference to the contract allows you to claim, for example, the substitution of a hotel, the lack of a swimming pool, insufficient equipment or room size, or the lack of a sea view if it was promised. The Czech Trade Inspection Authority lists these as the most frequently complained about defects.
However, everything you want to complain about does not have to be explicitly stated in the contract (or excluded by the contract). Your holiday may be accompanied by inconveniences such as building alterations in the hotel or noise from the hotel bar. In this case, of course, it is not assumed that you have a contract that says what will not happen during your stay. However, even such things have a direct link to the quality of your stay and can be grounds for a claim. In this case, it will always be necessary to take into account the specific context – for example, information from advertising, a catalogue, the trip confirmation that the customer must receive by law, or the general expectations that people have of a holiday (i.e. that there will be a pleasant environment in which to relax) may be relevant.
The term ‘compensation for the loss of enjoyment of the holiday’, which is referred to in the Czech Civil Code as compensation for damage caused by the disruption of the holiday, has also been incorporated into Czech law from European regulations. Based on the relevant provision, the consumer will be able to claim compensation for the disruption of the holiday, in particular if the trip was cancelled or substantially shortened.
As regards the specific example of ‘custom’, for example, a ‘four-star’ hotel in Western countries and, for example, in Turkey or Egypt may not be of the same standard – but the consumer may nevertheless expect, on the basis of custom, that the hotel in Turkey will be of the same standard as he is used to from Western countries.
Tip: Make sure you know who you are contracting with before you choose your holiday. It is important to distinguish between a travel agent and a travel agency. The travel agency is only the tour operator and the tour itself is arranged by the travel agent. You should also deal with the tour operator in case of any problems. It should always be stated on the website and in promotional material whether it is an agency or a tour operator.
Are you considering a lawsuit against the tour operator?
In our experience,a pre-suit notice is the most effective and least expensive way to protect your rights. A pre-suit notice serves as a last warning before a lawsuit. The advantage is that it can be done without the need to file a lawsuit, pay court fees and risk, for example, paying the other party’s litigation costs.
What can be considered as material defects of the tour?
In particular, defects that make it essentially impossible for the customer to use the tour or to experience it in a normal relaxing way are considered to be essential. These include, for example, cases where parents have to spend the whole trip looking after a child who has food poisoning or where the noise in the room makes it impossible to sleep.
Mrs Iva’s case: building alterations in a hotel
Our law firm was contacted by Ms Iva, who had returned from a holiday in Greece with her boyfriend and son. The upper floor of the hotel where they were staying was undergoing renovations starting early in the morning and the construction works had largely affected the quality of sleep, making it impossible to ventilate the rooms due to the high dust and noise levels. Her young son could not sleep even in the afternoon and the whole holiday turned into a nightmare according to Mrs. Iva. She therefore demanded some compensation from the travel agency. However, according to the travel agent, Mrs Iva’s room was on an upstairs floor that remained untouched and the night-time rules were strictly observed in the adaptations. In view of this, the agency refused to provide any compensation.
In our pre-litigation notice, we drew attention, among other things, to the aforementioned “loss of enjoyment of the holiday” Although this term sometimes puts a smile on clients’ faces, it often helps them to effectively assert their rights. Of course, you can also lose the pleasure of your holiday if you are arguing with your partner all the time or the sun is not shining, but the Civil Code does not cover these cases. It applies to situations where the travel agent has breached one of its obligations, for example by failing to take you to your destination or if you have food poisoning in a hotel restaurant.
After our intervention, the agency became more accommodating and agreed with the client to reduce the price of the tour as the client suggested. Fortunately, Ms. Iva also had the entire situation documented, including the noise that was heard in the room and the dust that covered the windows.
Tip: Carriers can also spoil your holiday in a major way. What can be done if the carrier is late or does not arrive at all? And how can I complain about the carrier’s service? That’s what we look at in our blog article.
Discount in case of defects and compensation for damages
If there is a serious defect in the tour , the tour operator must first try to rectify it within a reasonable period of time (i.e. commensurate with the seriousness of the defect) and not offer other benefits to the customer (i.e. in the case of a heavily soiled room, clean the room rather than offer a cocktail on the hotel’s behalf).
If the travel agent does not remedy the defect within the time limit set by the customer, you have the right to remedy the defect yourself and the travel agent is obliged to reimburse you for the cost of the remedy. In the event that the room has defects that make it unusable (this does not mean unwiped dust but, for example, leaking water), you are entitled to arrange alternative accommodation of similar quality and then claim the costs of doing so.
However, if the defect is irremediable, or if the claim is generally made retrospectively, the tour operator has thirty days to deal with the claim. As part of the claim, you can claim a discount that you consider reasonable. The tour operator may or may not agree to the claim. If they do not agree, or if the tour operator has not responded to your claim within this time limit, you must take your claim to court or, before that, you can use out-of-court dispute resolution through the Czech Trade Inspection Authority. In view of the possible court settlement, it is advisable to take documentation of any shortcomings, ideally taking photographs with your phone. The testimony of other tour participants can also serve as possible evidence.
How to make a complaint?
If the complaint is not resolved immediately on the spot, insist on written confirmation from the delegate. Subsequently, make your claim in writing. In the complaint, state who is making the complaint and against whom. Describe what you see as the deficiency of the tour you are complaining about, how the complaint should be handled, add the date and signature. If you are complaining after you have returned from your holiday, the traditional way of dealing with the complaint is to provide a discount on the price of the tour.
The so-called Frankfurt Table is sometimes used for the calculation, which has been recognised by the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic as a possible guide for out-of-court settlements (but not the only possible or necessary one). Here, typical defects of tours are described (too small room area, insects, rust or mould, etc.) and are assigned percentages, according to which the compensation is then determined.