Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Check before you book!

Planning a villa holiday? Looking for car hire deals? Kathryn Liston’s tips could save you money...........

MOST holidays go without a hitch, but there are times when things don’t always go according to plan – holiday scams, companies going bust and accommodation not being as described. According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, 1,000 people lost a total of £1.5 million in holiday scams n 2013. 

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure a trouble-free holiday and protect your cash.
  • Villa bookings
Pay by credit card – Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the credit card company is jointly liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation, such as a company going bust or failing to deliver the quality of villa promised. It applies to transactions over £100 and less than £30,000. Even if you pay only the deposit by credit card, you will still be able to make a claim.

There are a few grey areas, however. Some purchases bought through a third party such as a travel agent rather than directly with a villa owner or airline might not qualify for protection. Where possible, make credit card payments direct to the company supplying the goods.

Debit card payments do not enjoy legal protection, but you can make a claim through the chargeback scheme, to which participating banks subscribe. If you do not get the holiday advertised, you might be able to get your money back from their bank, although there are no guarantees.

Speak to the villa owner – Telephone the villa owner or agent to ensure the holiday is legitimate and ask lots of questions. Don’t rely only on e-mail exchanges.

Read the terms and conditions – Read the deposit policy and terms and conditions, and get clarification on points about which you’re not happy.

ATOL protection – If you are booking with a tour operator or travel agency, check that the holiday is protected by an ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licence) or the Flight Plus scheme. This will prevent you from losing your money or being stranded abroad if the company goes bust. To search for a company’s ATOL visit www.caa.co.uk.

Book safely online – For tips on booking and paying for your holiday safely online, visit: https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/holiday-and-travel-booking/#.UpyYVtKzKuI
  • Car Hire - Hidden costs in car hire 

Car hire often looks a bargain until you pick up the vehicle and find there are a host of hidden extras to pay. These charges can sometimes double the cost of your rental, with a full tank of petrol, excess waiver insurance, breakdown cover and extra drivers the main culprits. There are ways to reduce your bill.

A full tank of petrol can whack €100 (£80) onto your bill – and if you’re told to return the tank empty, you could be paying as much as €50 for petrol you have not used. This is particularly the case on short trips or on holidays where you only use the car to pop to the shops in the nearest village occasionally.

Go for a company that allows you to return the tank full, so that you pay only for the petrol you have used. Unfortunately, the companies that tend to offer this, such as Avis, tend to be more expensive than a local dealer, but they can work out cheaper in the long run.

Before you book, check the rental company’s fuel policy. It’s usually buried in the terms and conditions. If you are using a broker, call to ask which company you will be renting from, and check their fuel policy.

Buying waiver insurance at the car rental desk is expensive. However, without it, you will have to pay what is often a high insurance excess should your rental car be damaged or stolen.  Visit http://govillasandcottages.co.uk/blue-excess for a quote. It is far cheaper to buy a policy before you leave the UK, although, if you do this and are involved in an accident, you will have to pay the excess for any damage upfront and then claim it back.

Don’t assume that breakdown cover is automatically included. Check before you book. Adding a second driver can also be costly. Hertz, for example, quotes €5.90 (£5) a day for rental in Malta, adding £70 to a 14-night holiday. Search for a company such as Economy Car Hire (www.economycarhire.com/) which includes an additional driver and excess cover in its prices.

Go Holiday news : www.govillasandcottages.co.uk

Picture Credit: Go Holiday Publishing / Blue Insurance.

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