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UK European Consumer Centre

Small print. Big difference

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new campaign to help holiday and travel businesses improve the clarity of their terms and conditions (Ts & Cs).
 
The campaign is designed to help travel and holiday businesses understand the rules on unfair terms and encourage them to check in on their terms to make sure that they are fair.
 
Under consumer law, businesses may be entitled to ask customers to pay a cancellation fee to cover their losses, but the amount they keep must be in proportion to what they are losing. Cancellation terms that don’t follow this approach are likely to be unfair and businesses can’t rely on them to resolve claims or disputes with customers.  
 
A term can be legally unfair if it gives the business an unfair advantage. Examples of unfair terms can include those which allow a business to take a large, upfront deposit and refuse to refund any of the customer’s money if they cancel, regardless of the amount the business is losing or the reason for the customer cancelling.
 
The ‘Small Print, Big Difference’ campaign is being run in partnership with the lead associations representing the holiday and travel industry, including ABTA – The Travel Association, UKHospitality and the Specialist Travel Association (AITO) amongst others.  The CMA has previously found that less than half of UK businesses know the rules on unfair terms well and on average, only review their terms every four years.
 
There are many advantages to having transparent, up-to-date and fair terms. They can:
 
help prevent disputes with your customers, saving time and money
 
boost your reputation and the chances of repeat business from your customers
 
differentiate your business, making it unique so that it stands out from the crowd
 
protect your business; even if a customer has signed up to an unfair term, it is not legally binding, whereas fair terms will bind them and give your business legal protection



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