Class action lawsuits in the EU: Added value for holidaymakers?

The European Commission wants to give consumers more rights. That’s a good thing. But caution is advisable in the case of the much-debated class action lawsuits because they are associated with both advantages and disadvantages for holidaymakers.

Improving consumer protection for car owners in the wake of “Dieselgate“

The EU class action initiative was triggered, among other things, by the exhaust emissions manipulation affair. Affected consumers saw the value of their vehicle plummet from one day to the next and most vehicle owners who took legal action weren’t successful in securing any compensation. Class actions can provide consumers with protection in situations like this.

Car purchase ≠ holiday purchase

The admissibility of class actions for other products is also under discussion. They make sense in cases when companies selling long-lifespan consumer or investment products systematically act in a way that is detrimental to the consumer. But what about holidays? The average holiday booked by a German consumer is 12.6 days in length. Unlike in the “Dieselgate” affair, the consumer experiences any “nasty surprises” straight away, not years later. Professional tour operators have representatives at the destinations who can quickly sort out problems relating to rooms and the like. Travel customers can also rely on receiving prompt compensation because of existing laws that protect them. 

  • EU Package Travel Directive: Tour operators are required by law to give certain assurances in connection with travel products, otherwise the package holidaymaker can demand repayment of a portion of the cost of the holiday. 
  • EU regulations protecting passenger rights: A European Court of Justice ruling states that if a flight is delayed for more than three hours its passengers are entitled to claim compen- sation of between EUR 250 and EUR 600 depending on the distance, in addition to support and assistance. Cruise ship passengers have similar rights. 

So there are fundamental differences between the options available to people who buy holidays and people who buy cars. Class action lawsuits won’t provide holiday consumers with more than they are already entitled to by law. On the contrary, holidays are individual, often bespoke products and therefore not suitable for class action lawsuits. The consumer could even have to wait much longer for a decision and receive less compensation in a class action lawsuit. The consumer isn’t helped if, ultimately, only a handful of specialist service providers profit from class action lawsuits. And it’s in the interest of serious travel companies hoping for repeat bookings in years to come to put the customer first.

TUI supports dissatisfied customers

TUI assumes responsibility and goes far beyond its statutory obligations if any of its guests’ expectations are not met. The first priority is always to find a local solution as quickly as possible. If the guest is still dissatisfied, TUI will take the person home within 24 hours and reimburse the cost of the holiday. Customers appreciate that, and TÜV Saarland rated TUI’s guest-friendliness as “very good” in the certification audit in January 2017.