You’ve carefully selected the destination for your next trip – you may be going to explore a new place or you may be returning to a preferred location. You found the best flight schedule which will allow you to optimize your vacation time, and you’ve booked the hotel or resort that best meets your needs. Overall, you’ve planned your vacation well. You’re getting the best deal for your money and you feel your time off work will be used to the maximum benefit.
Hopefully, your travel agency will deliver on its promises. In reality, though, it’s possible that you’ll not receive the services you expected or were told you would receive.
For example: You paid extra money for a room with ocean view, but the room you were given has garden view only. Or maybe your flight was delayed or advanced by more than 24 hours. Or the swimming pool at the hotel is closed for renovation and the travel agency did not notify you…
Any of these inconveniences can happen. What do you do if something like this happens to you? You’ll be disappointed, and maybe you’ll just accept the fact that this occurred and that the situation is out of your control. This is an option, but there’s also other actions you can take to obtain compensation from the travel agency for what went wrong.
YOUR CLAIM OPTION
OPTION 1 – Travel Agency
Your first step will be to contact the travel agency to file a complaint about the unsatisfactory services or the services not received according to the contract. Before you call the travel agency, read your contract if you haven’t done so already. (This step should have been done prior to paying.) This first contact with the travel agency can be done by phone.
If all goes well, your complaint will be received positively by the agency and you’ll receive compensation. The compensation offered by the agency can take several forms such as a cheque, credit to your credit card, a credit for a next vacation, a free hotel stay, etc. It’s up to you to decide if the compensation offered is acceptable or not.
OPTION 2 – Insurance
If you purchased travel insurance, the inconvenience you suffered may be covered by the insurance. Read you insurance contract. If you’re covered, don’t hesitate to file a damage claim quickly. Some insurance policies provide a maximum amount of time for submitting a claim. People are sometimes embarrassed to claim from their insurance. The process exists for a reason. It only takes a few minutes and you may receive a substantial amount of money back.
OPTION 3 – Credit Card
You paid your trip using your credit card. Contact your credit company if the services you paid for were not provided Even better, the terms of your credit card may include travel insurance. You might get a total or partial reimbursement for the services not provided or some cash from the insurance portion of your card.
OPTION 4 – Provincial Consumer Affairs
Residents of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia have provincial regulations regarding the travel industry. Quebec’s Office de la Protection du Consommateur can provide financial compensation for services not rendered for which you paid. The protection covers such situations as: travel agency closure, the transportation or accommodation service provider is unable to fulfill their obligations, your flight is cancelled due to an act of God, you need immediate departure or repatriation.
The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) offers assistance to Ontario residents who have purchased their travel services from a travel agency, tour operator, airline or cruiseline registered in Ontario. Two types of claims can be made: the standard claim and the trip completion claim. The standard claim is for services not rendered due to bankruptcy or insolvency of the travel agency, tour operator, airline or cruiseline. The trip completion claim covers expenses incurred to complete a trip where a customer or another person has begun a trip that cannot be completed because travel services have not been provided as the result of the failure of the travel agency.
British Columbia residents can address a claim to the Travel Assurance Fund (TAF). The Fund compensates those who paid for travel services that were not provided. The TAF only reimburses up to the cost of the original contracted services; it does not cover the cost of alternative or replacement services.
OPTION 5 – Canadian Transportation Agency
The Canadian Transportation Agency handles disputes about air, rail and marine transportation services, including prices, fees and charges, terms and conditions of carriage, and many other matters such as accessibility issues.
In air transportation, many disputes are based on whether the airline has properly applied its published terms and conditions of carriage (also called its tariff), or respected Canadian law or international conventions.
In rail transport, disputes arise over interswitching, rates on competitive or single lines, running rights and level of service. Rail complaints also deal with disputes over noise and vibration caused by a railway company when constructing or operating a railway.
Marine issues often involve user fees at ports or charges for pilotage services, as well as accessibility issues, ensuring that people with disabilities can travel without encountering undue obstacles to their mobility.
OPTION 6 – Court / Tribunal
This is your last resource in case of dispute and if none of the other options are available to you. Some provinces have a small claims tribunal to whom you may wish to address your claim.