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MOVIMENTO CONSUMATORI has always been sensitive to tourist rights. If the citizen-consumer, weak subject in social and economic relations, needs a strengthened legal protection, the tourist-consumer needs it more: beeing out of his own country, having few time, ignoring the spoken language (sometimes), all these things make the tourist more vulnerable and make him less capable to negotiate. We think that citizen-consumer-tourist should improve the awareness of his rights and duties and should plan his trips considering environmental compatibility and social responsability, respecting different cultures and growing through discovery, exchanges and knowledge. According to this point of view, MOVIMENTO CONSUMATORI, since 1986 has produced the “The Charter of Tourist Rights” (“Carta dei diritti del turista”), it has carried out an informatic guide “A practical guide for tourists in Europe”, in alliance with European Union; it has taken part in consulting on Code of Consumption (Codice del Consumo) - passed now and has developed through his Sections the net “Sos Tourist” (SOS Turista). This new edition of the Charter, approaching most frequent giuridical and contractual issues in a simple way, intends to be an updated guide about main rights and duties for people who travel. We hope that it will be an useful instrument to prevent adverse situations and to give help for those one it wasn't possible to avoid.
Lorenzo Miozzi, President of Movimento Consumatori This tenth edition of the Charter follows important new regulations. The Code of Consumption get together pre-existent rules about time-sharing and turist packets, extending protections on several point. Since 2005, in air transport, the EU Regulations n. 2004/261/CE orders the noboarding, cancellation or delay of a flight cases; the new outline law (135/2001) and the law competence of the Regions about tourist and hotel issues (Item V of Constitution). It seems important introducing a chapter about travel with animals and also an index of international convenctions, european, national and regional laws in the sector; it seems also important to indicate MC'Sections , having skill and expertise to assist tourists. This guide represents the product of more than 20 years specific experiences of MOVIMENTO CONSUMATORI, and has the aim of giving important instructions for tourists. Our intention is to follow this tradition, so it will be very appreciated to receive suggestions and observations to develop further issues and improvements.
Roberto Barbieri, M.C. - SOS Tourist


Agencies and Tour Operators:
Package tours are in practice all-inclusive holiday formulas, organised by tour operators and mainly sold to the public through travel agencies. The travel agency is only responsible with respect to its role as a dealer and therefore for sales, bookings and information. The tour operator, whose name appears on the brochure, is responsible in the event of any problems regarding the quality of the service. The tour operator is also liable in the event of any breach of contract or damages caused by the suppliers it has chosen (hotels, airlines, guides, etc.), and will have to seek compensation from these suppliers after reimbursing the tourist.

Changes in price:
After you’ve already purchased your holiday, you could still be unpleasantly surprised by a price increase. Such an increase may not occur for any reason whatsoever later than 20 days before departure, it may not be more than 10% of the original price and the change in price must be justified by variations in transport costs, fuel costs, exchange rates, duties or taxes. In the event of a price increase over 10%, the consumer is entitled to withdraw from the contract without penalty and demand reimbursement for the entire sum paid to date. After the 20th day prior to departure has elapsed, the consumer is entitled to depart without paying any further increases in price.

Changes to contractual terms:
In the event, before departure, of the operator or the agency informing the customer of changes to one or more services included in the package, with or without variation in price, the consumer may choose from the following options:
to accept the changes;
to withdraw from the contract (with reimbursement of the sum paid to date);
to accept the offer of an alternative package of equivalent or higher value (at no additional cost) or of lower value (with reimbursement of the difference in price).
The operator or agency must be informed of the choice within two working days of receipt of notification of the change.

Cancellations before departure:
The tour operator may cancel the tour, within the period specified in the contract, and reimburse the sum paid if the minimum number of participants specified in the contract is not met. Should the consumer be unable to use the package tour purchased, he or she may not withdraw from the contract but may transfer the contract to another person. In this case, the operator or agency must be informed of this transferral within 4 working days of departure, with the details of the replacement person. The original customer, together with the new purchaser, is still obliged to pay any outstanding sums.

Departure delays:
Sometimes, a delayed flight may force us to spend the first day of our holiday in the airport instead of at our destination. Tour operators generally try to protect themselves from liability in this case, transferring responsibility to the airline or the airport operator. Some tour operators even include clauses in their contracts whereby “the time of departure is purely indicative”, thus attempting to evade responsibility in the event of delay. It is important to note, however, that such clauses are illegitimate. Indeed, in organised tours, “the date, time and place of departure and return” are essential elements of the contract (art. 86, subsection g of the Consumer Code). Such clauses are actually unconscionable, as they limit the liability of the operator in the event of its failure to fulfil it obligations.
When looking through brochures, we therefore recommend that you not only compare services and prices, but also carefully consider any terms and clauses regarding responsibility stipulated in the contract.

Tourists abandoned in distant countries:
We often hear about cases of tourists abandoned to their own devices. In these instances, there can be only one cause: the tour operator has not paid its local suppliers (hotel, airline etc.) for the services, and as a result, the latter has ceased to provide the services to the tour operator’s customers – in other terms the tourists – and, in spite of the fact that they themselves have paid in full and in advance, they now find themselves refused access to the hotel or to the journey back home. The National guarantee fund has been established to tackle just such eventualities. In the event of insolvency or bankruptcy of the vendor or operator, the fund reimburses the price paid for the holiday, brings the consumer back home and may also compensate the consumer for any further damages suffered (which must be claimed within 3 months of return).

Inconveniences experienced at the destination:
Once at the actual destination, the most commonly encountered inconveniences are: poor hygiene conditions at the hotel; hotels not matching up to the category claimed; active building sites within the complex; beaches shown in the brochure are unavailable because they are actually private; and food poisoning.
In all of these cases it is important to remember that in addition to the terms explicitly stipulated in the contract, all descriptions and illustrations contained in the brochure are also binding for the operator. Consequently, the operator is therefore liable in the event of any correlated non-fulfilment or damages.

The intrinsic damage of a “ruined holiday”:
The package tour has a value greater than the sum of its component services. The tour operator is not merely selling transport + hotel + ancillary services, it is selling a holiday, in other terms, a period in which the consumer replenishes his or her psychological and physical energies. Tour operators are fully aware of this aspect when they use it to promote their products in advertising, but conveniently forget it again when a disgruntled consumer demands compensation, not only for material damages and the services not rendered, but also for psychological and moral damages (more simply put, for ruining their holiday). Indeed, if the quality of the holiday is compromised by the lack or inadequacy of one or more of the services, the tourist is not only entitled to compensation for the services not rendered, but also for the fact that the holiday failed to satisfy these expectations, which were an integral part of the package (and which constituted the added value advertised by the tour operator).
Recently the European Community Court of Justice has deliberated that the damages for which a tourist can claim compensation shall also include the moral damages of a ruined holiday.

The tour operator is obliged to avail itself of third party insurance for the protection of the consumer, with coverage for personal injury and damage to property. Operators often offer the consumer a separate insurance policy. As the sum asked is generally small, it may be advantageous for the consumer to purchase additional insurance to protect him or herself in the event of future disputes with the tour operator. Bear in mind however, that this form of insurance is optional and not obligatory, as the operator will often have us believe

“Roulette” formula:
This is a special type of package tour offered by tour operators: in exchange for a substantial price reduction, the tourist accepts a varying degree of uncertainty regarding the exact location of the hotel. In practice, this formula is offered in three variants: most commonly, the category of hotel and the resort are guaranteed; as above, but with the degree of uncertainly narrowed to a small selection of previously identified hotels (for example, from those shown in the tour operator’s brochure for that particular resort); conversely, the degree of uncertainty may be broadened, giving the tour operator the freedom to choose not only the hotel but also the resort itself, within a defined geographical area (for example, choosing from different resorts on the same island).
In each of these cases, the logistical details of the holiday are not specified upon concluding the contract, but only a few days prior to departure and, in some instances, only upon arriving at your destination.
The hotel is determined at the last possible minute on the basis of available vacancies in the hotels (indeed in any hotel in the resort or resorts specified, the only proviso being the category guaranteed by the operator). Therefore, consumers must be aware of the fact that in return for a better price, they are required to tolerate a certain degree of flexibility: there is no way to define the hotel in advance nor even to specify certain special conditions, such as “sea view”, distance from the beach and so on. Contrary to the general principal of the package tour, what appears in the brochure is not binding for the tour operator, which guarantees nothing specific and only a certain level of service (category).
Additionally, any commitment made verbally by the tour operator or agency has no value whatsoever: if, for example, in the context of a roulette formula, a maximum distance from the beach or a more limited selection of hotels is agreed upon, this must be put down in writing and/or included as a clause in the contract. This is necessary because the consumer cannot demand fulfilment, nor claim compensation for non-fulfilment, of promises made only verbally.

Online buying:
The online purchasing of tourism services and of package tours in particular, is still a relatively uncommon phenomenon. It is, however, on the rise and in 2003, ASTOI (the association of the major tour operators in Italy) estimated that internet sales accounted for 1 to 1.5% of the overall turnover of its associates.
This phenomenon is now surrounded by an intricate body of protective legislation, although it still entails some additional risk compared with a conventional purchase through an agency.
First of all, the regulations for the purchase of package tours given in this chapter apply identically to online purchases. The following therefore remain unchanged: the right to information and regulations regarding changes in price, changes in contractual conditions and the responsibility of the operator and vendor of the package with regards to non-fulfilment and damages. Concerning the right to information in particular, we believe that the obligation to issue a copy of the contract to the consumer is fulfilled if the vending website allows you to download and print the contract in its entirety (we recommend that you always do this before signing a contract, to give you time to read all of its terms in your own time). If the website does not offer this feature, it probably has something to hide and you’d be well advised to drop it and look somewhere else.
Secondly, before concluding the transaction and making the online payment, always check who you are actually purchasing the service from. It may just be a tour operator or agency who also operates on the web, but it could also be a makeshift agency that only operates on the internet, with no official license and offering no guarantees towards the consumer or, worse still, it may even be a scam organisation.
The greatest risk is that the organisation vanishes into thin air as soon as we have paid the first deposit (or perhaps even the full sum paid up front). But even where we are not the victims of an outright scam, bear in mind that in the event of future problems, it will be very difficult if not impossible to exercise our rights if the vendor is only a virtual concern or is based on the other side of the world.
It is therefore a good idea to always check that the website clearly gives the physical address of the vendor and the details of its official license and membership to category associations. This means that we can also verify that it has been registered with the chamber of commerce and in the regional charter of travel agents.
The lack of these details must be seen as a worrying sign of scant professionalism and untrustworthiness. It is also advisable to check the trustworthiness of the site itself, ascertaining which technical measures are taken to ensure secure payment and confidentiality. In addition to articles 82 to 100 of the “Consumers’ Code” (D.lgs. 206/2005), the regulations concerning remotely stipulated contracts (articles from 50 to 61 of the Consumers’ Code) are also applicable to online purchases of package tours.
Additionally, consumers are entitled to exercise the “right to withdrawal”, in other terms the freedom to back out of the contract simply because they have changed their mind, regardless of the reason.
The new article 64 of the Consumers’ Code has unified the terms for the right to withdrawal in remotely stipulated contracts and the right to withdrawal in contracts for sale stipulated outside places of trade, which were hitherto regulated by two separate decrees.
The right to withdrawal may be exercised within 10 working days of the conclusion of the contract, by registered return letter signed by the same person who undersigned the contract and addressed to the vendor (or the party indicated in the order). The right to withdrawal may be exercised up to 90 days after the conclusion of the contract should the vendor fail to fulfil its obligation to inform the consumer of his or her right to withdrawal and in the event of incomplete or incorrect information being given.

In the event of inconveniences experienced on holiday, it is advisable to make your complaint (preferably in writing) while still at your destination submitting it, if possible, to the local representative of the tour operator. If the problem is not resolved, you may still exercise your rights after your return, by sending a registered return letter to the tour operator within 10 working days. In this case, it is wise to gather evidence while still at your destination, such as photographs, statements by other tourists who may be contacted after your return and documents.





Partner Links:

  • http://www.tredy.com
  • http://www.romebytredy.com
  • http://www.resortsinitaly.com
  • http://www.sorrento.cc







    Home |  Good Tips | About Pets | Wild Flora and Fauna | Charter of the tourist rights |  Rights of the flight passengers | Hotel Contract | Hotel Symbols | Diabetes | Heart disease |  Dialysis | Pros and Cons |  Partner links |  Contact us