As the euphoria begins to disappear as fast as the traffic jams re appear, and maybe a few customers appear as well, we need to plan for the arrival of ATOL Certificates in just 6 weeks time.
From October 1st, all ATOL sales, whether flight only Flight Plus or packages should be accompanies by an ATOL Certificate relevant to the sale taking place. We are aware from members who have attempted to integrate the document into their back office system, especially bespoke systems, that this is no easy task and we suspect a considerable number of businesses will be unable to complete this in the timescale available. The CAA is well aware of this and took the decision not to even contemplate publicising the changes until 2013.
Misleading ATOL Logos
Last week members may have seen reports of substantial fines being imposed in Birmingham
after a travel agent was successfully prosecuted for the misleading us of the ATOL
and ABTA logos in his business. His defence in court was that ‘everyone else does
it’ which resulted in fines and costs of over £12000.00 Birmingham Council is one
of the few in the country prepared to fund the Trading Standards department adequately
to enable legal proceedings to be taken against those that mislead. There has been
a further case already which included not only misuse of the ATOL logo, but alleged
breaches of the Package Travel Regulations and fraud!
If you know of any businesses pretending to hold a licence which they do not have, please report it to your local Trading Standards Department, as well as ATOL, IATA or ABTA. Regrettably when business is tough, more and more agents want the legitimacy of logos to try and sell more.
Only last Friday a business supposedly operating in the Isle Of Man, Travel Experts Ltd trading as Express Bookers collapsed with an unknown level of debt. The home page of their website had an ATOL logo on it despite the fact that they have had no licence since April 1st. The customers have discovered they may have flights, which they can only cancel at 100% loss but no accommodation, a situation that was supposed to end with the arrival of Flight Plus. It is clear we have a long way to go!