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Viability of European Small Claims on Travel Agent

  • 11-08-2022 7:20am
    Registered Users Posts: 5,538 ✭✭✭

    I'm wondering how I should approach this as I've no experience lodging this type of claim and it may not be viable.

    The background is that I booked a flight+hotel package holiday through an online travel agency. The booking was advertised as "free cancellation before 23/05/2022" for the hotel, and for the flights I selected, the outbound leg was non-refundable, but the return leg was refundable/changeable. I duly cancelled on the 22/05/2022, expecting that the cancellation terms were as advertised. The travel agent has refused to refund, citing that the flights are not refundable, and "the hotel imposed a cancellation fee", and that I was also due to pay their own fee for cancelling after the notified date. I have contacted the airline and the hotel - the airline have confirmed that they did, in fact, refund the return leg, and the hotel have confirmed that they did not impose a cancellation fee, and they were not paid in advance for the booking. I have documentation from live chats confirming the contradictory or incorrect statements by their customer service reps.

    Their key defence for this appears to be that the booking states that after 23/05/2022 I can be liable for "any cancellation fees charged by our partners". When I asked for a copy of the notification from the hotel partner of the cancellation fee, I was told that they are unable to send it to me for confidentiality reasons. So it appears that they believe I am liable due to some terms&conditions that I am apparently not allowed to view? The company has a reputation for failing to legally refund, so I should have done more research before booking.

    They do have a legal acknowledgement that "In accordance with the provisions of the S.I. No. 80/2019 - European Union (Package Travel And Linked Travel Arrangements) Regulations 2019 transposing Directive (EU) 2015/2302 of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 25, 2015 relating to travel packages and related travel services, <company registered in Spain> acts as the organiser of the package tours offered to the User and is legally responsible for their proper execution."

    To me this indicates that I should be able lodge the claim through the European Small Claims process in the district court for what I am due (return flight, hotel, the invalid "too late" cancellation fee from the provider, and a calculation of the time/effort expended by me on this effort. Am I completely out of whack?