They ruined my trip. What am I entitled to?

We were contacted by Mr Antonín, whose holiday was literally ruined by the travel agency. What claims did we advise him to make? What can be claimed in general in the event of a spoiled trip? But when is a complaint over the line?

Žena sedí s kufrem v hale
3 minutes of reading

Mr Antonín from Prague is experiencing quite a lot of stress at work. That’s why he took a vacation right at the end of the summer. He did not want to go to the same place again and so he took his family on a little experimental trip to Morocco. The country was, in his words, beautiful, but the travel agency completely failed.

When a travel agent breaches its duty, it must compensate the customer not only for damage to property but also for the disruption of the holiday, especially if the trip was cancelled or substantially curtailed.

In Mr Antonin’s case, it was a failure to manage the transport from the airport, which he ultimately had to arrange and pay for himself. Furthermore, the travel agent changed the hotel at the last minute, which did not correspond at all to the original offer, and did not provide any additional services.

If it is stated on the website or in the catalogue that the hotel is 50 metres from the sea with a view of the old town and has a beautiful swimming pool, and in fact it is a half-abandoned ghost house without a working pool overlooking a factory 15 minutes’ walk from the beach, compensation for damages is fully appropriate. Generally, however, damages will always be involved if there is a material breach of the tour contract.

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In the first place, the client is entitled to seek redress, e.g. conversion of the offered half-board to a duly ordered full board. If this does not happen, the customer has the right to claim compensation for the costs reasonably incurred. This is the case of Mr Antonín, who had to arrange his own transport from the airport.

If, as in Mr Antonin’s case, there are even more substantial defects, i.e. inferior services, there is, of course, a claim for a reduction in price. In general, however, the right to a reduction in the price of the tour is conditional on the customer pointing out the defect without undue delay. In most cases, the courts require a reproach within one month of the end of the tour.

Czech courts look to Germany for guidance in determining the discount or the liability of travel agencies. Since the 1980s, the case law there has used the so-called Frankfurt discount table. It determines, for example, a discount of up to a quarter for accommodation further away than promised, and up to 10 per cent for missing a view. For defects in the room – such as mould or insects – the customer can then ask for up to a 50 per cent discount, depending on the severity of the problems. However, the table is not binding for Czech courts, only supportive, and of course it depends on the circumstances of the particular tour.

The discount may also be affected by whether the trip is a trip of hardened friends, especially to local pubs, when the hotel is used only for overnight stays, or a romantic holiday to celebrate a diamond wedding.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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