The standards applying to package travel, package holidays and package tours in the European Union (EU) have been harmonised, thus enabling consumers to purchase these services outside their own Member State with a maximum of guarantees.
Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours
A package requires the following two conditions to be met: the service provided must cover a period of more than twenty-four hours and must be sold at an inclusive price.
Any brochure made available to the consumer must indicate clearly and accurately:
- the price;
- the destination, the itinerary and the means of transport used;
- the type of accommodation;
- the meal plan;
- the passport and visa requirements;
- the health formalities;
- the timetable for payment;
- the deadline for informing the consumer in the event of cancellation.
The information contained in the brochure is binding on the organiser.
Before the contract is concluded, the organiser is required to provide, in writing, certain information on passports, visas (periods for obtaining them) and health formalities.
Before the start of the journey, the organiser must supply in writing:
- the times and places of intermediate stops and transport connections as well as details of the place to be occupied by the traveller;
- the name, address and telephone number of the organiser’s local representative or, failing that, an emergency telephone number;
- certain additional details in the case of journeys involving minors;
- information on optional contracts covering insurance or assistance.
The terms laid down by the Directive are to be set out in writing in the contract.
The consumer may transfer his or her booking to another person.
The prices stipulated in the contract may not be changed unless the contract expressly provides for the possibility. In such a case, only variations in transportation costs, dues, taxes or fees chargeable and exchange rates may be reflected in the price.
If the organiser alters the contract significantly, the consumer may either withdraw from the contract without penalty or accept a rider to the contract.
If the consumer withdraws from the contract or if the organiser cancels the package, the consumer is entitled either to take an alternative package or to be reimbursed the sums paid. Where appropriate, the consumer is entitled to be compensated for non-performance of the contract.
The organiser is responsible for the failure to perform or the improper performance of the contract, except where the consumer is at fault or for reasons of force majeure.
Timeshare and long-term holiday products
European legislation governs the laws and obligations resulting from contracts for the purchase of timeshare and similar products. This harmonisation aims at further protecting European consumers, including in the case of some contracts with an international scope.
Directive 2008/122/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts (Text with EEA relevance).
The market for timeshare and similar products is developing. This Directive harmonises certain aspects of the marketing, sales and resale * of these types of products.
These provisions allow the protection already provided by Community regulations for consumers of timeshare holidays, long-term * holidays, exchange * and resale contracts to be extended. They apply to contracts entered into with traders.
Rights concerning information
Before concluding a contract, consumers shall receive information concerning the property that they are about to purchase, the rights that they can exercise and all costs associated with the contract. They shall be informed whether they have a right of withdrawal, its duration and the conditions under which it may be exercised. This information is an integral part of the contract and may not be modified.
The information is to be provided free of charge, on a durable medium and using a standard form adapted to each type of contract (Annexes I to IV). The information must be clear, comprehensible and accurate. Consumers may choose the language in which this information is supplied, that of their country of residence or of nationality, provided it is an official language of the European Union (EU).
Member States must ensure that consumers are given notice of the obligation concerning pre-contractual information where advertising material is to be received or with regard to participation in a commercial event.
Conclusion of the contract
The contract shall be supplied in writing, on paper or another durable medium. Consumers may choose the language in which the contract is written, whether the language of their country of residence or of nationality, provided it is an official language of the EU, and that it complies with the requirements of the Member State of residence. The consumer shall receive at least one copy of the contract at the time of its conclusion.
Right of withdrawal
The Directive extends the right of withdrawal by the consumer, the exercise of which terminates the obligations of the parties as well as ancillary contracts. This right may be exercised without a reason being given for a period of fourteen calendar days. The period shall be calculated as from signature or receipt of the contract or of any binding document.
This opportunity offered to the consumer is to be described in the standard pre-contractual information form. If this obligation is not complied with, the withdrawal period will be extended to one year and fourteen days. Furthermore, if the trader does not provide pre-contractual information, the right of withdrawal may be exercised for three months and fourteen days.
Advances and payment
Advance payment, provision of guarantees, reservation of money or acknowledgement of debt as well as any type of consideration paid by the consumer to the trader or a third party cannot take place before the end of the withdrawal period.
Concerning resale contracts, advance payments are prohibited before the sale has taken effect or the sale has been terminated by other means.
Payments due under long-term holiday contracts shall be made in instalments and are to be divided into yearly amounts of equal value. From the second yearly instalment onwards, the consumer may terminate the contract without incurring any penalty by acting within fourteen calendar days of receiving the request for payment.
Termination of ancillary contracts
If consumers exercise their right of withdrawal, any ancillary contract linked to the main contract shall automatically be terminated. Consumers shall not bear any costs for termination. Member States shall determine the conditions for the termination of these contracts.
The rights laid down in this Directive may apply to contracts which are subject to the law of a third State in the European Union if:
- one of the immovable properties which are covered by the agreement is located on Community territory;
- in the absence of an immovable property, the trader exercises their commercial activity in a Member State.
Member States shall ensure that the consumer is informed of the possibilities for redress determined by the national legislation. They shall encourage the development of out-of-court redress procedures.
This Directive repeals Directive 94/47/EC to take account of developments in the holiday product market.
|· Timeshare holidays: concerns a contract of a duration of more than one year under which a consumer, for consideration, acquires the right to use one or more overnight accommodation units for more than one period of occupation.
· Long-term holidays: concerns a contract of a duration of more than one year under which a consumer, for consideration, acquires primarily the right to obtain discounts or other benefits in respect of accommodation.
· Exchange: a contract under which a consumer, for consideration, joins an exchange system which allows that consumer access to overnight accommodation or other services. In exchange, the consumer will grant other persons temporary access to the benefits of the rights deriving from their contract.
· Resale contract: under which a trader, for consideration, assists a consumer to sell or buy a timeshare or other product.
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