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Jersey Consumer Council

Tag: travel

Condor Ferry Cancellations

April 3, 2020 Coronavirus Matters, Travel and Transport No Comments

With ferry crossings cancelled until at least the end of April, the Consumer Council has received complaints from passengers having difficulty getting a full refund.

Travellers are being offered vouchers for future sailings rather than cash refunds. We understand this is because Condor expects to be able to honour the travel at a later date.

We approached the company about this as there are points to be considered:
– by law, a full refund should be given if requested
– the cancelled ferry journey may have been a one-off crossing for a wedding etc
– if a voucher is accepted, can customer change their mind at a later date, should the situation change?
– if a voucher is accepted, what happens if the customer is unable to travel in the next 12 months, due to illness etc?

Condor have advised that they are having to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and that the recent measures they have taken are to ensure the future of the company and jobs, and the continuation of lifeline services for the Channel Islands, including freight-only sailings to provide a sterile working environment.

They stated that initially offering a voucher is the position being taken by most ferry operators and the wider travel industry.

The company is offering passengers with existing reservations, who wish to alter a booking, the option to change their trip to a future date without incurring an amendment fee at the current time (although fare differential may still apply), and a complimentary seat upgrade for both their outward and return journey onboard their high-speed ships (subject to availability).

If you can’t yet commit to a future travel date, Condor is providing a travel voucher to the total value of the original booking without any cancellation penalty. The voucher has a validity date of up to 18 months.

Every email received by their Customer Relations team is being looked at on a case by case basis. Unfortunately, due to such high email traffic, responses may take several months to complete, which is not good news.

In response to this Condor advise that if there is a need to amend the booking voucher date many months into the future, their normal amendment policy may apply which includes the ability to change online up to seven days before departure free of charge. Should a more expensive sailing be chosen, the difference in fare will apply.


Airlines: Refund vs Voucher

April 2, 2020 Comments Off on Airlines: Refund vs Voucher

The Consumer Council has been receiving queries from concerned Islanders regarding flight cancellations.

It appears that rather than giving a full refund, airline companies such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, are encouraging customers to take vouchers enabling them to travel at a later date.

The current law under the EU Convention and Regulation EU261, states that passengers are entitled to a full refund. However, companies are making the process difficult with a lack of on-line claim forms and excessive call centre wait times.

Airlines are being inundated with calls and are desperately trying to avoid having to pay out huge amounts in refunds. To protect their business, an industry body called Airlines UK is asking the UK government to temporarily change the law, allowing them to issue vouchers, instead of refunds. If refunds must be given, they want to delay the payments until after the coronavirus situation is over and flights return to normal.

Airlines are asking passengers to contact their debit and credit card providers to request a refund.
Under Section 75 legislation, if a service such as this has not been provided and you paid between £100-£30,000, credit card providers may be liable.
If the amount was under £100 or you used a debit card, you may be able to use the chargeback scheme (see Which?UK’s page for further information).
If you paid via Paypal, you can try requesting a refund from them directly.
It is always advisable to contact the airline or tour operator first, and ideally receive a written confirmation that they will not refund you. This will strengthen your refund request from your card provider.

Several airlines have confirmed that passengers do not have to claim right away. Our Chairman, Carl Walker, has this advice:

‘It is very disappointing to see that both BA and easyJet are making it as difficult as possible for Islanders to claim a full refund for their tickets.
If an airline cancels your flight, you are entitled to a full refund. But it is clear that both these major airlines are trying to influence consumers to take vouchers instead. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, as they are still offering the refund option, but only via the call centre, which obviously can take a very long time.
My advice to consumers would be to wait for a few days at least, to allow the rush to subside. Then, pick your call times carefully. The start of the day is likely to be very busy, but late in the evening there may be less of a wait time on the phone.
And, consumers have a year to the day from the original flight date to claim the refund, so there is plenty of time. And, looking at the increasing pressure both airlines are coming under, I would not be surprised if an online refund option appears at some point.’

If you do accept a voucher, you should be aware that your consumer rights are not the same as someone who has a ticket. If a company goes into administration, you may lose your money.

There are many sites offering information, which may be of help, such as:
https://www.abta.com/
https://www.iata.org/
https://www.caa.co.uk/home/
https://www.which.co.uk/


Car Hire ‘Rip-offs’

June 25, 2018 Consumer Skills, Travel and Transport No Comments

Which have listed the top three tricks of the car hire trade to avoid;

Trick 1 – Damage charges

Trick 2 – Excess waiver fees

Trick 3 – Fuel options

https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/car-hire-holiday-problems/

Which also mention a few other car hire tricks;
Automatic toll collecting equipment can be costly with a hefty hire charge per day to pay, so check whether this is a legal requirement and whether it can be turned off. And if unexpected or unauthorised payments appear on your statements, raise this with your card company or bank.

Be aware of the cost of sat nav hire – it could be cheaper to buy foreign maps for your sat nav rather than hiring one with the car.

Travel Supermarket share 7 of the worst car hire rip-offs.

Car Hire #Ripoffs
Rip-off #1: Sky-high excess costs
Rip-off #2: The ‘full-empty’ fuel policy
Rip-off #3: The ‘upgrade’ option
Rip-off #4: Paying for extras you could bring yourself
Rip-off #5: Buying at the desk
Rip-off #6: Unexpected charges when you get home
Rip-off #6: Unexpected charges when you get home

https://www.travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/blog/travel-advice/7-car-hire-ripoffs-to-avoid/

Have you experienced one of these car hire tricks? And if you’ve been faced with other tricks let us know.

 


Calls & Data when Roaming

June 15, 2018 Telecommunications, Travel and Transport No Comments

 

Going on holiday is exciting but if you use your mobile phone while abroad you don’t want to come home to a nasty shock.

Whether you are jetting off somewhere exotic, hopping across to France with your car, or visiting friends and family, planning ahead will give you peace of mind that you won’t return to a big mobile phone bill when you get home to Jersey.

The Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities have worked alongside local telecom operators, JT, Sure and Airtel to bring down the cost of using your mobile phone while abroad, but with ever increasing use of data hungry mobile device, bigger than expected bills are still a possibility. There are a number of things you can do to give you peace of mind, before you embark on your travels.

Louise Read, Director of the Authority, recommends adding ‘talking to your mobile phone operator’, to your pre-holiday to-do list. JT, Sure and Airtel will be more than happy to help, advising you about the charges for the country you are visiting and suggesting ways of minimising your bill. Find out if your call and data allowances are included for roaming,  should you exceed these you are likely to be in for a costly surprise.

Once you are abroad, look for free Wi-Fi services whenever you can (many public spaces, hotels, cafes and restaurants now provide free access to broadband) However remember that public Wi-Fi does not afford you complete security so use it wisely and be cautious.

Consider staying in touch with free-to-use Apps such as WhatsApp and Skype. If you’re not using Wi-Fi, avoid data-heavy activities such as watching videos, updating social media with photos or downloading music. It’s worth seeing if your operator has an app which allow you to monitor your usage – download this before you set off.

Another option is to buy a local SIM card to put into your phone, with pre-paid credit. It may be a bit fiddly and you’ll have different phone number but if you use a lot of data, rather than calls, it will help you keep track of how much you are using and paying.”

Finally, of course, if you really want to avoid bill shock, and have complete peace of mind – Louise goes on to suggest “a ‘Digital Detox’ live in the present and turn off your data roaming function!”

Happy holidays!


Holiday Booking Check list

December 19, 2017 Insurances, Travel and Transport No Comments

We all look forward to our holidays, and often they can cost a considerable amount of money; the Consumer Council has compiled a holiday booking check list, to keep you and your holiday booking safe;

 

Financial Protection for your Holiday

Before booking you should check whether your flight or holiday package is ATOL protected and don’t leave home without your ATOL Certificate

  • ATOL (the Air Travel Organisers Licence) is a financial protection scheme for air passengers. If you book an ATOL protected holiday or charter flight and your tour operator, airline or accommodation provider goes out of business before you travel you can claim a full refund.
  • If a service provider goes out of business while you are abroad, you will be able to continue your holiday and arrangements will be made for you to fly home once the holiday is over.
  • Jersey residents must be aware that ATOL only protects packages or flights, which originate in the UK ñ always check with your tour company/travel agent regarding ATOL protection and eligibility.

 

Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) Protection

  • Many Jersey residents will enjoy the FlyDirect options (and ferry packages) now available from Jersey; it should be noted that these are not eligible for ATOL protection (as described above).
  • However, such packages and flights would be financially protected as long as the company with whom you make your travel contract in Jersey is bonded with ABTA (and they are current members).
  • ABTA includes protection both in the event of failure of the tour operator prior to departure, in which case deposit/balances paid would be refunded, and for repatriation in the event of tour operator failure whilst clients are abroad.

 

Financial protection if you are not covered by ATOL

 

o    If your flight is not ATOL protected, you should ensure your travel insurance policy provides cover in the event that the airline goes out of business. Take out travel insurance adequate for your destination, activities and everyone in your party.

o    If you buy a ticket using a credit card and the airline goes out of business, you may be able to claim a refund from your credit card company under the Consumer Credit Act. The cost of a single (i.e. one leg) ticket must be at least £100.

 

 Other Holiday booking pointers;

  • Double check all details such as travel dates, itineraries, destinations and travellers before confirming payment, as you may be charged for amendments
  • Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don’t recognise.
  • If renting a private apartment or villa, call the owner/agent directly to ensure that it is legitimate. If the number is not provided, email and request it. Check reviews on TripAdvisor or similar site. Get the full address of the property and find it on Google maps to check its location and legitimacy.
  • Ensure that any holiday or travel company unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them online. Ensure that they are a member of a recognised travel authority which offers financial protection and a complaints service.
  • When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts.

Travel Insurance:

Put your travel insurance in place sufficiently ahead of your trip to make sure that you benefit from all of the cover. Channel Islanders are advised to make sure that the element covering missed flights and missed connections includes the flights to and from home.

The medical cover needs to be adequate to help pay medical bills; £2 million medical cover is advised by Which for just Europe and £5 million for worldwide. but do check what counts as Europe or Worldwide by your insurance company.

We usually travel with many of our gadgets and you should consider cover for these too whilst traveling, you may need to extend your home insurance to cover as single items on your travel policy may only be covered for £250.

A good travel insurance policy should provide cover for Illness, injury or death while you are away,  to allow you to be repatriated. Illness or the unexpected can interrupt travel plans therefore it is advisable to check the cancellation provisions – how much are you covered for in the event of the holiday being cancelled by unexpected events e.g. illness. You must declare pre-existing medical conditions – as otherwise your cover will be voided.

Check that the policy covers

  • Liability for accidents involving others;
  • The airline going out of business;
  • Natural disasters, natural events e.g. volcanic ash cloud and severe weather;
  • Political instability;
  • Security risks.

If you plan to enjoy risky activities whilst away you should say so to make sure that you are covered for risky activities, for example skiing, scuba diving or climbing.

And finally you may be better to buy an annual policy rather than single trip cover plus READ THE SMALL PRINT…always check what isn’t covered.

Happy  Holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 


Overbooking & Air Travel

December 1, 2017 Travel and Transport No Comments

Overbooking

We have all seen startling footage this summer on national TV of a passenger being forcibly removed from an American flight because of overbooking. Naturally the impact of overbooking is not usually this physical. But this does make you wonder if and why airlines over book?

Our research has revealed that most airlines overbook certain flights. We asked several of our carriers why they overbook and easyJet explained that around three million easyJet customers each year don’t show up for their flights and if these seats were left empty, it would force up prices for everyone else. BUT the passengers have already paid for their seats so why does it matter? Upon investigation this is because in the first instance revenue is reduced as the empty seat doesn’t buy on board refreshments. Airlines sell a proportion of certain seats on certain routes and flights at certain times more than once to ensure that revenue is earned in order to sustain the lower ticket prices many of us enjoy today.

easyJet said that ‘they get it right in around 97% of cases, meaning that many tens of thousands of customers who want to fly, get to do so. In only a very small proportion of cases – a tiny fraction of less than 1% – will a customer be denied boarding’ as a result of over booking. easyJet highlighted that very few passengers who do not intend to travel with them actually cancel their flights.

Some passengers may be denied boarding as there may also be occasions where, due to unforeseen circumstances such as disruption on an earlier flight operated, technical problems, etc., that the airline needs to make a change to the aircraft type which is operating a specific route. This might mean that a smaller aircraft is substituted than originally planned, which may lead to a shortage of seats.

How do airlines decide which routes and journey’s to overbook?
When overbooking a flight airlines target those flights with a consistent history of no-shows and then overbook them by a small number where they they can confidently predict everyone who wants to fly should be able to do so.

Flybe explained that they ‘carry 8-million passengers a year flying and on average operates some 520 flights a day. Like all other airlines, Flybe carefully manages each flight by employing in-depth statistical analysis to ensure that each departure is as commercially viable as possible. This is to ensure the lowest possible fares are always available to its customers whilst at the same time being confident there is only ever a very small risk that a passenger would be denied boarding. This is primarily employed on multi-frequency routes where historically it is shown there is a consistent percentage of no-shows’

What simple measures can the passenger take to reduce the risk of being denied boarding as a direct result of overbooking?

  • In the first instance check in on line at the earliest opportunity; this confirms to the airline that you intend to travel as booked, so that airlines can more accurately understand whether they still have seats which are available for other customers who may not yet have made their reservations.
  • If you are denied boarding as a result of overbooking – negotiate, without being greedy. Establish accommodation needs if appropriate, refreshment allowance. Also ask when the next available flight to your destination is due to depart by any airline not just by the one who has denied you boarding and request if you can be allocated a seat on this flight.
  • Remain calm and reasonable


Read the full report here

What does the EU Directive have to say on the matter?

In the rare cases where a passenger may be offloaded, airlines should take their responsibilities very seriously, fully understanding how frustrating and inconvenient the situation is.

Compensation must be paid in line with EU261 – typically within 5 working days – as well as dealing with their immediate requirements at the airport. The Consumer Council have published a Plane Facts guide to help navigate you through your rights when flying

The booklet details the ‘Denied boarding’ process;
When an airline has overbooked a flight they must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats before passengers are denied boarding.

If you volunteer to give up your seat:
  1. You must be provided with compensation, either cash or airline vouchers. The level of compensation must be agreed with you.
  2. If you decide to continue your journey, the airline must also book you onto an alternative flight. If the airline cannot fly you to your intended airport, it is allowed to fly you to another airport within the same region. The airline must then transfer you to either your intended airport or a close by location agreed with you.
  3. If you decide not to continue your journey the airline must refund your ticket and give you a flight back to the original point of departure if relevant. Refunds should be provided by the airline within seven days. If an insufficient number of passengers volunteer to give up their seats, the airline will deny boarding to a number of passengers
If the airline denies you boarding:
  1. You are entitled to immediate compensation. (Please see table 2 on page 20 for compensation rates in Plane Facts).
  2. You are also entitled to the same option of a refund or alternative travel arrangements offered to passengers who volunteer to give up their seats.
  3. If the airline cannot fly you to your intended airport, it is allowed to fly you to another airport within the same region. The airline must then transfer you to either your intended airport or a close by location, agreed with you.

Compensation and assistance will not be provided to passengers who are denied boarding because they are deemed unfit to travel by the airline, for example if you are intoxicated, or abusive etc.

Airlines regularly review their overbooking methodology to make it more accurate and do everything we can to minimise the number of people who are affected, whilst optimising the yield from the fare levels at which they sell.


Transport Survey 2013/2014

July 14, 2017 Reports & Publications No Comments
Transport Survey 2013/2014

Transport Survey 2013/2014

PUBLIC BUS SERVICE

Facilities

The majority of those interviewed are happy with facilities at the Bus station with 82% falling into the “Good” or “Fair” brackets. However, certain aspects could be improved:

“Need more seats for waiting at bus station for the elderly.”

“Liberation Station is too cold in the winter.”Complaints and compliments

The main complaints are that the buses are too wide for the Island roads and they do not run to
time. The excessive width causes a considerable amount of stopping and starting to allow
oncoming vehicles to pass, resulting in a reduction in passenger comfort.

It should be remembered that the survey was carried out in the early days of Liberty Bus’ new contract and that the general feeling now is that the timings have improved considerably as
less complaints are being received by the bus company.

Read More…


Sun Screen – Things YOU Need to Know

May 19, 2017 Health Matters, Home life, Travel and Transport No Comments

The Summer Holidays are fast approaching …

Water Resistant

The effectiveness of water – resistant product SPF 30 could drop to SPF 15 after a swim. Plus towel drying is also likely to rub off sunscreen.

 

SPF …

This is an indication of how long sunscreen protects against ultraviolet radiation that’s linked to skin cancer and is the main cause of sunburn (UVB)

 

The SPF number doesn’t relate to the amount of protection a product provides it relates to time from when YOU step into the sunshine, depending on your own skin type – if an SPF30 product is applied correctly it will protect you for 30 times longer than if you wore no sunscreen. The clock doesn’t get reset each time you reapply the time is set for the day and if you don’t apply enough it will not provide its full SPF.

Cancer Research UK says it’s all about ‘How well you put it on’ for example

Most people under-apply sunscreens, using ¼ to ½ the amount required. Using half the required amount of sunscreen only provides the square root of the SPF. So, a half application of an SPF 30 sunscreen only provides an effective SPF of 5.5!


Why Passport checking may take a few moments

May 19, 2017 Travel and Transport No Comments

When a ship/aircraft arrives in Jersey from a place outside the Common Travel Area (CTA), it is a requirement that the passports of all passengers are checked.

 

When a ship/aircraft arrives in Jersey from a place outside the Common Travel Area[1] (CTA), it is a requirement that the passports of all passengers are checked. Such checks include the swiping of every passport. There can be no exceptions for the holders of passports issued in Jersey. To apply such an exception would place in jeopardy the Island’s position in the CTA, and potentially lead to the UK introducing a passport control between Jersey and the UK.

 

The requirement to swipe all passports is a relatively new one, but has become necessary as a result of heightened security. It takes approximately 10 seconds to swipe a passport, and this obviously increases the time it takes to pass through the immigration control. It is the view of the Customs and Immigration Service, however, that this is acceptable if this means keeping the Island safe and ensures that the Island’s immigration control is not seen as a weak link in the CTA.

[1] The Common Travel Area is an open borders area comprising Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. British Overseas Territories are not included.


If your hand luggage is put in the hold it might NOT be covered by insurance.

February 22, 2017 Home life, Insurances, Travel and Transport No Comments

HAND LUGGAGE put in the hold on a busy flight might seem like a mild inconvenience – but if your bag gets lost, stolen or damaged, it might not be covered by your travel insurance.

 

More of us are opting to travel with just hand luggage opting out of paying to check in a bag. However, this often means there are too many cabin bags to fit in the overhead lockers and airline staff need to stow a certain number in the hold.

 

Consumer watchdog Which? found that the leading five UK travel insurance companies including Aviva, LV and Axa don’t cover valuables placed in the hold for loss, theft or damage.

 

Which? is warning travellers to take any valuables out of their hand luggage before they hand it over to cabin crew.

 

Another issue with having to check your bag unexpectedly is waiting to pick it up from the baggage carousel. If this process is delayed and a passenger misses a connecting flight as a result, airlines are not required to pay compensation.

 

These days, it is highly likely that passengers may have their cabin bags taken and put in the hold, because planes simply don’t have the capacity to takes all bags in the cabin.

 

If you have to put a bag in the hold at the last minute, try to remove wallets, keys, laptops and other valuables. If any items go missing from the hand luggage bag that you had intended to keep with you, do make clear to the airline that you expect compensation.

 

Make sure that you know if your own travel insurance covers this eventuality before you travel.