A well-deserved vacation should be the perfect opportunity to switch off and unwind. But unfortunately it happens again and again that package tours do not go as expected and are afflicted with unpleasant travel defects. Be it a dirty hotel room, inadequate service, broken facilities or other unpleasant surprises.
Fortunately, in such cases, travelers have the right to claim a reasonable travel price reduction. In this article you will find out how you should proceed in such a case and what steps are necessary to assert your right to a reduction in the travel price.
First of all, it should be pointed out that the tips in this article do not constitute legal advice, which is reserved for lawyers and notaries in Austria. Those affected who cannot make progress on their own are advised, if necessary, to seek advice from a lawyer they trust or from a legal advice center of a consumer protection organization. In Austria, free initial legal information can also be given by judges on the official days of the district courts, subject to an appointment being made in advance.
The correct procedure in the event of travel defects:
Immediate report to the local tour guide or the hotel: If you find any deficiencies in the trip, inform the local tour guide or hotel staff immediately. They have a duty to take remedial action.
Documentation with photos and/or videos: In order to support your complaint later, it is advisable to record the travel defects with photos or videos. Make sure that the date and time of the recordings are recognizable.
Written confirmation: Have the travel deficiencies confirmed in writing by the local tour guide or the hotel. This gives you official proof for your later complaint.
Contact details of witnesses: Talk to other travelers who may have experienced similar shortcomings and take note of their contact information. Witnesses can strengthen your position if the tour operator disputes the deficiencies.
If the local tour guide does not remedy the situation:
If the local tour guide is unable to rectify the tour deficiencies or does not respond appropriately, you should inform the tour operator. Have a conversation and put your complaint in writing. Give the tour operator reasonable time to resolve the issue.
Attention: Some tour operators do not have a local tour guide, but have commissioned so-called incoming agencies. In this case you have to contact them. Again and again it happens that the agencies cannot be reached or are not willing to come to the hotel. This should be documented precisely and, if necessary, the telephone calls should be made in front of witnesses.
If the tour operator is unresponsive or unavailable:
If the tour operator does not respond to your complaint or cannot be reached, you can contact the consumer protection organizations in your home country. These often specialize in supporting consumers in such cases.
The top 10 most common travel defects and awarded travel price reductions:
- Dirty accommodation: 20-30% of the tour price
- Noise disturbance: 10-25% of the travel price
- Lack of cleanliness: 10-20% of the travel price
- Missing or defective equipment: 10-20% of the travel price
- Construction work at the hotel: 10-20% of the travel price
- Food shortages (e.g. inferior food): 10-15% of the travel price
- Inadequate service: 10-15% of the tour price
- Missing leisure activities: 5-15% of the travel price
- Transport problems (delays, cancellations): 5-15% of the tour price
- Health and hygiene deficiencies: 5-10% of the travel price
Please note that the amount of the travel price reduction can vary from case to case and also depends on the severity of the defect. The stated percentages serve only as a non-binding guideline and are based on statistics of court judgments in Austria and Germany evaluated by Aviation.Direct.
Important deadlines for complaints and assertion of travel price reductions:
As a rule, complaints about travel defects should be made immediately on site. In order to claim a travel price reduction, the tour operator should be informed in writing after your return. In Germany and Austria, the limitation period for claims from package tours is usually two years, in Switzerland three years.
Consumer protection organizations for free advice:
- In Germany: Consumer Center Federal Association eV (vzbv)
- In Austria: Association for Consumer Information (VKI) and the Chamber of Labour
- In Switzerland: Foundation for Consumer Protection (SKS)
These organizations offer free advice to consumers and can help you with questions about your rights and obligations in relation to package holidays.
Finally, it is important to stress that package travelers have clear rights when it comes to travel deficiencies. By taking the right steps and gathering all the necessary evidence, you can strengthen your position and get a reasonable trip price reduction if your trip doesn't go as expected. Be sure to act within the applicable deadlines and, if necessary, use the support of consumer protection organizations to enforce your rights.