BEIS (The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy) has published a Call for Evidence on the Consumer Contract Regulations (CCR). These regulations govern:
The information which a trader must give to a consumer before and after making a sale
How that information should be given
The right for consumers to change their minds when buying at a distance or off-premises
How does this affect my hospitality business and why should I care enough to fight?
From a tourism point of view, one of the most important aspects of the CCR is the “right to cancellation” provisions for off-premises sales. Currently, for most goods and services, customers have a 14 day right to return goods or cancel services. However, there is an exemption to these cancellation rights for a wide range of tourism products including tourism accommodation, flights, car hire, tickets to events and services relating to leisure activities that take place on a specified date or period.
It would seem that BEIS is considering modifying or removing this exemption, with the consultation document stating that “Initial feedback from some stakeholders suggests that in some circumstances, certain exemptions could be causing consumer detriment, for example hotel bookings” and citing recent work that the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) has been undertaking on Online Travel Agents (OTA’s). We believe the stakeholders are the OTA’s who are pressing for this. The OTA operators would actually be direct beneficiaries of the removal of the exemption, as it is likely to result in an increase in cancellations – particularly on late bookings, if better last-minute rates became available. Some OTA’s retain the booking fee on any cancelled bookings, and would get a second booking fee if the guest cancelled to book elsewhere at a lower rate.
It is therefore important for the tourism industry to respond to this consultation. Having to offer guests the right to cancel, without any penalty, within 14 days of making the booking would be very difficult to manage for small business, particularly with late bookings, which are increasingly common.
The closing date for submissions is 1 May 2019. In order to fight against this, we need as many businesses as possible to respond with their reasons on why it would be damaging to their business to change the exemption. We are asking you to compose an email using the information below and changing it as suits your particular business. The more submissions that we can secure, the more likely we can influence the outcome.
A submission template has been posted here for your use