21. 5. 2020

Changes to consumer rights for trip cancellations

In the previous issue of Legal Buzz, we published an article concerning the rights consumers regarding the cancellation of travel and related services due to the current epidemiological situation, which is available here. With the latest amendment to the intervention legislation, there have been some additional changes to certain consumer rights, as presented below.

On 28 April 2020, the National Assembly adopted the Act Amending the Act Determining the Intervention Measures to Contain the COVID-19 Epidemic and Mitigate its Consequences for Citizens and the Economy, which allows travel agencies to issue vouchers instead of giving refunds for package travel arrangements (package holidays that include at least two different services, for example, transport and accommodation), which were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and extends payment deadlines if a consumer refuses the voucher.

In cases where a package holiday contract is terminated due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances caused by an epidemic, the organizer of the holiday may fulfill its obligation to refund payments by issuing a voucher to the consumer in the amount of all payments, which is guaranteed for by the organizer with all its assets. It is important to point out that the certificate is issued in the name of the bearer (it is not tied to an individual consumer and can be redeemed by anyone) and is redeemable within 24 months of issue. Vouchers may be issued for all cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they were canceled before the enactment of these amendments.

If the consumer fails to redeem the voucher within the given deadline, it is still possible to claim the voucher amount within 14 days of expiry of the voucher. In that case the organizer must make the refund within 14 days of receipt of the request.

If the consumer does not want to accept a refund in the form of a voucher certificate, it is still possible to claim a refund. The organizer must now reimburse all payments within twelve months of the pandemic being declared over, instead of within 14 days of receipt of the request as set down in the Consumer Protection Act and the European Package Travel Directive.

Author: Tina Marciuš Ravnikar, Associate

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