How to React to Spoiled Vacations

How was your vacation? Is divorce now an issue? Just because you did not deal with the cockroaches under the bed? And now the travel company says “Niente!” to your demand for the recovery of damages for a ruined vacation. Law very well protects consumers’ rights regarding breach of contract for vacation trips. Really. You only have to know how to claim your rights correctly. These rules are not at all complicated, but quite straightforward.


1. Complain while you are still abroad

The most important rule is: If you become aware of a deficiency, inform the local representative of your travel agency. If there is no representative abroad, call Germany and complain about what is wrong. The agency has the right to try to straighten things out. If you do not complain until you are back home, it will be too late. Protest from the hotel even if you have to call Germany. A failure only exists legally if you can rely on improvement, and that is only the case if the travel agency knows that something has gone wrong compared to what you were promised by the catalog or special agreement. If the catalog mentioned that the hotel was being renovated, then you will have to cope with construction noise. Matters would be different if construction leads to damage to your room.

2. Complain when back Home

As soon as you get back home you must promptly demand a refund for the shortcomings. How much this will be depends on the shortcomings and will be judged according to the so-called “Frankfurter Tisch (= Frankfurt Table)”. This is a list developed by the Landgericht (= Regional Court) Frankfurt / Main stipulating what percentage of the price may be recouped for which defects. Many courts use this table even though it is not legally binding.

3. Act quickly

Time is the name of the game. After returning, you only have one month’s time to present your demands to the travel agency in writing. In the event that you claim any rights later, then they may be forfeited. The best thing is to send your letter per registered mail with a return card. This costs more than an email, but only with a registered letter can you prove that you sent one. The return card proves that the travel agency really received the letter. Describe the defects clearly, completely, and in detail. Emphasize your wish for a reduction in payment. Supposing the travel agency refuses to refund at least part of the money, you will have at most one year to file a case in court.

4. Compensation for Expenses

You are entitled not only to reduce the price but also to recoup your extra expenses. A typical example for this would be that you booked a vacation on the coast and the package included a scuba diving course. Let’s say the hotel, which was supposed to organize this, forgot all about it, leaving you only dog paddling around. This would entitle you to book diving lessons at the expense of the travel agency.

5. Secure proofs

You will have to be able to prove that you brought forward your complaints in a timely fashion. Do not expect the local representative to confirm any flaws. Usually, he or she will be forbidden to testify anything to the disadvantage of his employer. A better idea is to have neutral witnesses who will testify to your arguments. Do not consider your spouse or a friend sharing your room neutral! They will be considered biased. Shoot pictures and/or videos of polluted beaches, cockroaches under the bed, and witness testimonies from your hotel. Keep in mind that if foreign witnesses must be heard in court, this will make costs explode.

Published on the old CMS: 2006/12/30
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 168 reads

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