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Mistake on Holiday Website: Should We Have to Pay Extra?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 31 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Contract Holiday Trading Standards Goods

Q.

My wife and I looked on various websites for a cheap holiday for the two of us and our two children. We found a good deal for a holiday to Fuerteventura which was fairly cheap, but not ridiculously so. As such we booked it. The details on the email confirmation mention the flight out, the flight back and the hotel accomodation. It specifically states that there is no transfer included, which suits us as we always hire a car for our independence.

Late this afternoon I received a call from a representative of the holiday company stating that there had been a mistake on their websites and that the flights were not included in the price. He said if we still want the holiday we need to pay more money, which in effect more than doubles the cost of the holiday. He said I could have time to think about it and pretty much pressured me in to contacting him again tomorrow.

As far as I am concerned, they made the mistake. I booked a holiday at a certain price. The flights are on the email confirmation. Can they charge me extra like this? The cost of the flights obviously hasn't changed, but they obviously, (and they have admitted so), made a mistake and didn't charge us for them.

Now we could just walk away and have a refund, but we were looking forward to this holiday and I don't feel I should have to walk away. I thought companies had to honour the price at point of sale. Do I have a right to demand the holiday at the price we booked it at? What was a good deal, with their price hike, way more expensive than their competitors.

(A.C, 18 May 2009)

A.

There are two issues here. The first issue is that in contract law, a trader does not have to sell you their product at the price advertised. In fact they don't have to sell you the product at all. For example, if you were to go into a shop and see an item displayed at a particular price and it transpired that the item had been wrongly priced, you could not make the retailer sell you that item at the marked price.

A price on a display or even in a brochure is described in contract law as an 'Invitation to treat' and is simply an invitation for you to make the seller of the goods an offer to buy them. When you make this offer, the seller can refuse to sell the goods if he realises that the price displayed is a mistake. Once he realises that a mistake has been made, he should withdraw the goods from sale and put them back on sale at the correct price, inviting you to offer the correct price.

In practice, many retailers would simply decide to honour the original price because it's less hassle. But in contract law, they don't actually have to, and this is what the holiday company is relying on.

The other issue here is whether the contract to buy the goods has been completed,and this is the more difficult part of the problem. It's easy to say that there is no contract when you come up against this scenario in a shop, but when you book online and have a receipt for payment setting out what you think you've purchased, it's a greyer area.

Normally a contract is only concluded when you pay (or agree to pay) and the seller gives you your goods or services. This is called consideration. Plainly, as you haven't been on the holiday, there hasn't been any consideration on their part yet. This puts the holiday firm in breach of their contract to supply a holiday to you. You should be entitled to compensation - but can only insist on a refund, not that they provide the holiday at the cost advertised.

You have two potential courses of action - you could accept the refund and try to find a suitable holiday elsewhere, or pay more for the holiday. If you decide to pay more, you could try to claim the extra money back through the small claims court, but whether or not this will be successful depends very much on the circumstances. A district judge would look at whether the company were reasonable in asking you to pay for their mistake and may decide that they were, in this case. They will also take into account the holiday company's offer to refund.

You could also mention that you will be reporting the company to your local trading standards office for misleading advertising. Legally, whether any action will be taken is again very much dependent on the circumstances, whether the mistake was genuine and whether they continued to advertise the holidays after the mistake was noticed. But sometimes just the threat of trading standards can produce results.

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Gwyni79 - 2-Jun-18 @ 8:06 PM
Danika - Your Question:
I booked a Holiday through Hoseasons and paid the full amount, then received a confirmation and invoice that stated this was all paid no out standing balance due. I received a phone call yesterday to say they will be cancelling the holiday, due to the price not being right on there website the day we booked. They did offer to go half's with us, but I said this was not acceptable and we had all ready paid in full the amount that was asked on the day of booking.Can they go ahead and cancel our holiday after the contract had been made, even though it was there mistake ?

Our Response:
Check the terms and conditions first of all then take a look at ABTA's advice
YourTravelRights - 16-Mar-18 @ 1:44 PM
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Danika - 15-Mar-18 @ 10:35 AM
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Our Response:
This depends whether a contract was formed. You will need to check this in the operator's terms and conditions. Please read ABTA's advice here.
YourTravelRights - 7-Feb-18 @ 12:20 PM
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Sukie- Your Question:
Hi, just wondering if you could give me some advice on a situation I have with a Travel Agent. Basically we have a remaining payment of £4000 outstanding on an holiday with this Travel agent. We have been paying monthly however, we recently received an email from them saying this £4000 has been paid off and we have nothing else to pay, i.e our remaining balance is zero. We have assumed they done this in error as we didn’t pay this amount to them. They corrected it a few hours later, however I am wondering what are our rights, could we be fortunate enough to demand that we have nothing else to pay because they have sent it to us in writing? Thank you so much and awaiting your reply.

Our Response:
No, it's an error on their part, they have noticed it and contacted you. You will still have to pay what you owe.
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Emmag1980 - Your Question:
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Our Response:
There's not much you can do. They should give you a full refund however, so don't accept any cancellation fee request etc
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David333 - Your Question:
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Our Response:
If the holiday did not meet the description given when you purchased, you can try and claim compensation. ABTA is a good place to start.
YourTravelRights - 2-Jan-18 @ 3:38 PM
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David333 - 29-Dec-17 @ 4:58 PM
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Mike - 9-Oct-17 @ 11:08 PM
Sophie- Your Question:
HiWe have booked to go to Milan for 4 nights in October. Firstly, before anything was agreed the travel agent went ahead and booked a quad room an hour away from Malpensa. Nothing was explained as to why it was only when we asked that she explained and was told it was non refundable etc. So we've paid the monies they asked. We submitted passports x 4 only to find that our eldest son was omitted from the booking. So we again sent his details across. Only to be told that we would need to pay extra for his flight. I am sure this is wrong as original email confirmed all our stay at the price so why we being charged for their error? This travel agent has not assisted us and we feel that we've been pushed into buying as we are none the wiser. Is there anyway we can get a full refund? Thanks in advance

Our Response:
If this was booked as a package the Package Travel Regulations give you the right to:
-get the holiday that was described to you and the agreed price,
-be given details about the holiday that are factually correct and not misleading
-be provided with accommodation and resort that is clean and safe.
Tell the travel agent you want a refund because they have notbooked what you asked for. If necessary tell them you will take to the small claims court.
YourTravelRights - 8-Sep-17 @ 12:52 PM
Hi We have booked to go to Milan for 4 nights in October. Firstly, before anything was agreed the travel agent went ahead and booked a quad room an hour away from Malpensa. Nothing was explained as to why it was only when we asked that she explained and was told it was non refundable etc. So we've paid the monies they asked. We submitted passports x 4 only to find that our eldest son was omitted from the booking. So we again sent his details across. Only to be told that we would need to pay extra for his flight. I am sure this is wrong as original email confirmed all our stay at the price so why we being charged for their error? This travel agent has not assisted us and we feel that we've been pushed into buying as we are none the wiser. Is there anyway we can get a full refund? Thanks in advance
Sophie - 7-Sep-17 @ 7:29 PM
Moo - Your Question:
Hi we booked 2 weeks ago to go on holiday on 30 August 2017.We are traveling as an extended family of 5 so the room I booked online has a separate living area for my mother (71) it also is on ground floor and has a bath and kitchenette to help with my 1yo, I also paid extra to be on one side of the holiday complex I sespifucakly booked this as my mother has walking difficulties and knowing the hotel I know this side of the complex is closer to the food,pools and entertainment also on ground floor so she doesn't have to drag upstairs and I don't have to carry the buggy and my son up. I emailed to make sure we will be provided with a cot quoting the room I had booked and I was told that this is not the room I will be receiving.The actual room I'll be getting is A family suite on the second or third floor with open plan living, a walk in bathroom with only a shower, no kitchenette I've contacted the agents and I keep getting passed from pillar to post Where do I stand on this ?

Our Response:
You haven't received what you booked/paid for, this is breach of contract, but also in terms of the consumer rights legislation, it's "not as described". Although many types of holiday bookings are exempt from consumer rights legislation, you should be entitled to a correction of the booking details or a refund. The problem is the agent's lack of communication, we suggest you speak with Trading Standards or Citizens' Advice to see if they can offer any help in contacting the company for you.
YourTravelRights - 17-Aug-17 @ 11:16 AM
jimbob123 - Your Question:
Hi, Around 3 months ago I booked a package holiday to Santa Clara in Cuba with thompson, a honeymoon for myself and wife. This week I receive an email from thompson informing me that my flight (in November this year) from Manchester to Santa Clara has been cancelled and that they no longer will be operating any hotels in the santa clara region - which includes my hotel - so essentially they have completely cancelled a holiday I have already bought and paid for. They said they still can fly to Varadero (the other side of cuba) and still operate hotels in that region and would be willing to pay £100 towards any additional costs it we wished to re-book there but the package deals are for that area at this later stage are more then double what we originally paid for our holiday to santa clara - what can I do in this situation - they also wont accept any of my calls, every time I try to call them they keep my on hold and then eventually they just hang up.

Our Response:
The company should offer you a full refund in this instance. Email customer services and send a written copy to their headquarters you shouldn't have to accept an alternative that you do not want.
YourTravelRights - 15-Aug-17 @ 2:19 PM
Hi we booked 2 weeks agoto go on holiday on 30 August2017. We are traveling as an extended family of 5 so the room I booked online has a separate living area for my mother (71) it also is on ground floor and has a bath and kitchenette to help with my 1yo, I also paid extra to be on one side of the holiday complex I sespifucakly booked this as my mother has walking difficulties and knowing the hotel I know this side of the complex is closer to the food,pools and entertainment also on ground floor so she doesn't have to drag upstairs and I don't have to carry the buggy and my son up. I emailed to make sure we will be provided with a cotquoting the room i had booked and I was told that this is not the room I will be receiving. The actual room I'll be getting is A family suite on the second or third floor with open plan living, a walk in bathroom with only a shower, no kitchenette I've contacted the agents and I keep getting passed from pillar to post Where do I stand on this ?
Moo - 15-Aug-17 @ 11:57 AM
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