Edwin Doran Sports Travel’s Managing Director offers his thoughts on our no surcharging policy.
Most of us, when confronted with the unpleasant scenario that our tour operator is seeking to impose a surcharge on our tour or holiday price (after a bit of cursing) will run straight to the dreaded ‘terms and conditions of booking’ that most tour companies have available on their websites. Yes, you as the party leader signed up to these at the point of booking, but few of us have time to read every single line in 3pt print!
Most tour operators, for very sensible reasons (such as protection against dynamic fluctuations in exchange rates, oil/fuel costs and so forth) include in their terms and conditions the right to increase your tour price and apply a surcharge, sometimes right up to 30 days before the tour.
At this point it’s important we understand exactly what is a permitted “surcharge” and what is an unexpected increase in price which amounts to breach of contract. A surcharge is an extra cost you will be asked to pay after a tour operator has already accepted and agreed your booking, that was not included in your original price. With sterling now at a record low, many operators are passing the inflated local costs to their customers. This issue is made more acute where inexperienced or over-zealous operators have failed to allow sufficient contingency in their costs in the interests in capturing new business at the lowest price possible.
There are, however some important steps that operators have to take to legally impose a surcharge on their customers. For example, ABTA members must formally notify ABTA before surcharging. This is so that ABTA can confirm legal compliance with the PTR and protect customers. ABTA publishes a list of Companies approved for surcharging on its website. If your chosen operator is an ABTA member and they have surcharged you and they are not on this list, they are in breach of the ABTA code of conduct having bypassed some very important checks. For further information on the package travel regulations and Office of Fair Trading information in this area, please see below.
I have been concerned to hear in recent weeks of some of our competitors levying heavy surcharges on customers. Given our customers are schools, the burden of finding the extra money will land with the parents, fundraisers and those responsible for ensuring the tours depart with enough funds for meals, kit and contingency. I am extremely proud to say that since I took on the role of Managing Director here over five years ago, Edwin Doran Sports Travel have made no post-booking surcharges whatsoever. We have always absorbed the impact of currency fluctuations and their like into our costs. Further, even in the difficult circumstances caused by Brexit we, like all trustworthy tour companies have passed on no increases in our costs. In addition, we are pleased to offer all of our customers the reassurance of a no currency surcharge guarantee. Once you have confirmed your booking with us, we will not surcharge your price due to currency fluctuation ever. If you have been improperly (or properly) surcharged and want advice please see the notes below for the relevant links and organizations who can advise you, alternatively contact us if we can assist.
Sam Seward has been leading sports travel businesses for nearly 20 years and joined Edwin Doran as Managing Director in 2011.
Edwin Doran Sports Travel have been organizing life changing school sports travel since 1974 and is a member of ABTA, the STF (school’s travel forum) and is ATOL and IATA licensed.
(1) Where I refer to the PTR:
The Law (Package Travel Regulations – ‘PTR’s’) requires that a Tour Operator’s Terms & Conditions around Price Increases, known as Surcharges, make provision for not only Price Increases but also for Price Decreases. Where the Terms & Conditions do not have this provision, the Tour Operator may not surcharge you. This is supported by the following evidence;
The Office for Fair Trading (OFT)
- The OFT confirm this in the below;Section 3 “Common Unfair Terms In Package Holiday Contracts”Page 10 – 11, Point 3.10 “Price Revision Clauses”“……The OFT is firmly of the view that terms providing for price revisions are void under the PTRs unless they provide for both upward and downward revision. We also consider that a term that allows for an upward revision only will cause a significant contractual imbalance to the consumer's detriment for the purposes of Regulation 5 of the UTCCRs (see 2.2). We will therefore object to any term that does this.”You can view this document at -(https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/284435/oft668.pdf)
Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)
- ABTA confirm this in their Membership Code of Conduct;3.3 Surcharges In this section PackagesA package organiser’s ability to pass on surcharges is governed by the Package Travel Regulations (the PTRs). The PTRs state a) That your booking conditions must be in a certain form: (i) They must mention upward and downward revisions. (ii) They must state how the revisions are to be calculated. (iii) They must only mention the three surchargeable items: transportation costs; dues, taxes and fees; and exchange rates. b) That you must absorb an amount equal to 2% of the client’s original holiday cost, before passing an increase on. c) That you can’t surcharge inside 30 days of departure.