On very rare occasions tour operators who are members of AITO and their customers may find themselves in dispute over holiday arrangements. In this instance the services of an arbitration company may be called upon to independently examine the situation. Arbitration companies can belong to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme although this is not a legal requirement. For many years AITO has worked with the Dispute Settlement Services (DSS), who are not on the ADR List. Customers may choose to use the DSS or another company that is on the ADR list. The DSS are an independently run, small consultancy specialising in consumer affairs and related travel subjects. It is a ‘documents only’ scheme that offers a simple and inexpensive method of settling disputes by the appointment of an independent arbitrator to examine the facts and give a ruling quickly, without too much formality and without resorting to expensive litigations and in an atmosphere which can result in the retention of goodwill by both parties.
The customer does not have to use an arbitration scheme as there is always the option of going to a county court and issuing a claim in the small claims track. If you prefer to have a day in court then this may be the better option. If the customer wishes to proceed with arbitration, the application should generally be made within nine months of the date of return home from holiday. The service may still be available outside this period in special circumstances. The low cost of the scheme can only be sustained if the documentation initially submitted is complete, and accompanied by a signed declaration and scheme payment. Once completed and all arbitration forms have been received, the Arbitrator will not enter into correspondence/telephone conversations with the parties to a dispute unless s/he has a particular issue to raise.
The Arbitrator appointed will decide disputes by reference to documentary evidence supplied by the parties. He or she may, where it is thought appropriate, speak with the parties concerned on the telephone but this will be entirely at the discretion of the Arbitrator. Both parties must agree to be bound by the Arbitrator's decision which shall be final.
The team of specialists who will act as Arbitrators have wide experience of dealing with travel problems and all legal aspects of the travel business. They are themselves seasoned travellers and they understand the difficulties, disappointment and problems when holidays go wrong.
Where the Arbitrator decides in favour of the customer, the tour operator is required to make the appropriate payment to the customer within 14 days of the determination being published.
The maximum sum which an Arbitrator may award under this arrangement is limited to £2,500.00 per individual, but subject to a maximum sum of £10,000.00 for any one booking. This service is not considered suitable for claims which are solely or mainly in respect of physical injury or illness or the consequences thereof.
The following fees are payable for mediations submitted to the DSS after 1 January 2015 in respect of each and every booking:-
|Tour Operator:||£210.00 (being £175.00 + VAT @ 20%)|
|Customer:||£140.00 (inclusive of VAT)|
Fees subject to change and should be checked at the time of inquiry.
Application forms and other related documents can be obtained direct from:
18 Bridle Lane
Telephone Number: 020 8744 9280
Facsimile Number: 020 8744 3187