Many Finnish tour operators do not comply with all the information requirements under the new legislation on travel service combinations that entered in to force in 2018. The Finnish Consumer Ombudsman examined the websites after the new legislation had been in effect for one year and found numerous shortcomings.
The Finnish Consumer Ombudsman reviewed the websites of 36 medium-size tour operators in July 2019. At the time, the new legislation on travel service combinations had been in effect for one year and the sector had been able to adapt to the requirements laid down in it. The Consumer Ombudsman paid attention to the following: do the tour operators assume responsibility for the travel packages they sell online, do they comply with the new general package travel terms and conditions instead of the repealed conditions, and do the companies fulfil their information obligation by submitting a standard information form in connection with the booking.
According to the findings of the Consumer Ombudsman, there were shortcomings on the websites of 32 tour operators. Many of the operators did not provide the standard information form as part of the booking process, as required under the new act or the form provided did not contain all the required information. Some of the tour operators also applied terms and conditions based on the repealed package holidays act and failed to provide consumers with terms and conditions meeting the requirements laid out in the new legislation (such as the general package travel terms and conditions). Thus, it was not entirely clear to the consumers whether they were purchasing travel packages to which the rights laid down in the new legislation apply or who is liable for any service disruption.
Of the tour operators reviewed, the Consumer Ombudsman targeted 23 companies for enforcement measures, based on their size and the type of the shortcomings. At the end of 2019, requests for action were sent to 18 tour operators, in which they were provided with guidance on how to correct the shortcomings. Five companies received requests for clarification.
Nearly all of the companies have made the necessary corrections on their websites or committed to make the changes required by the Consumer Ombudsman. Some of the tour operators will receive additional guidance from the Consumer Ombudsman.
“The review showed that the sector has not yet fully adopted the obligations under the new legislation, for example those concerning the provision of information. Despite this, nearly all tour operators have reacted quickly to the requests sent by the Consumer Ombudsman and have taken immediate steps to correct the shortcomings,” explains Katri Väänänen, Finland’s Consumer Ombudsman.
The new package travel act has a wider scope of application and provides consumers with more protection than the old legislation
The Finnish Act on Travel Service Combinations, based on the EU Directive on Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements, entered into force on 1 July 2018. The new act is more comprehensive than the old package travel act and applies to a larger number of tour operators.
In conjunction with the new act, the Finnish Consumer Ombudsman and the Association of Finnish Travel Agents (SMAL) also agreed on general terms and conditions for package travel, in which consideration is given to the new obligations of tour operators.
For more information, visit the FCCA website:
The new package travel act 2018
Travel packages and consumer protection
Finnish Consumer Ombudsman’s Newsletter 2/2018: Package travel consumer protection will undergo changes in summer 2018