From Travel Law solicitor Ros Fernihough's updated Safe and Sound booklet


WARNING: Previously we had always advised holidaymakers to book their holiday through an ABTA-bonded travel agent because of the protection that was afforded by ABTA the Association of British Travel Agents.

THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE and your money is no longer safe with an ABTA-bonded travel agent if that travel agent goes "bust."

If you have booked your holiday through an ABTA-bonded travel agent you have paid the money for your holiday and that travel agent does not pass on your money to the tour operator then you will not get your money back from ABTA.

ABTA's protection guarantee has been in existence since the 1970's and ABTA guaranteed consumers money where a retail travel agent went "bust." If in the future a travel agent goes "bust" ABTA will pay the tour operator provided the tour operator is a member of ABTA. This is in order that the booking can continue and the holidaymaker is provided with the holiday.

Ordinary consumers will not be refunded directly and ABTA will make no refund if the booking has not been made with the tour operator. In other words if the travel agent has taken the booking and kept the money and the travel agent has gone "bust" then the consumer loses out.

The only way to guarantee safety and security of consumers money in the event of any sort of failure is to pay by CREDIT CARD and if the travel agent refuses a credit card then go somewhere else. The credit card will guarantee your protection, providing the transaction is over £100 and under £30,000. It must be a domestic transaction - in other words the person acting as a consumer.

PLEASE NOTE: At the moment there is controversy in respect of whether Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 applies to overseas transactions. Until this matter is clear please ensure that your booking is with a British company. ABTA is no longer the "consumer's friend" - it is merely an association of travel agents and tour operators who are effectively operating a professional association for the benefit of themselves and not the consumer.

What effectively has happened by the change in ABTA's bonding arrangements is that it will leave the gates wide open for rogue tour operators and rogue travel agents to enter the market and rip off the consumer - therefore EXTRA CARE MUST BE TAKEN when booking your holiday.

If you pay by credit card you have protection in the event of failure, however the travel agent/tour operator may make a charge but it is worth paying the charge and look upon it as an extra insurance.

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