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TOUR OPERATORS WARNED ABOUT UNCLEAR PRICING

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Tour operators must include Aviation Security Charges (ASC) in basic ...
Tour operators must include Aviation Security Charges (ASC) in basic

holiday prices, says the OFT. Failure to advertise brochure prices

fairly will result in enforcement action.

The warning comes as ABTA has given a similar caution to its members

that ASC should be included in basic holiday prices.

Aviation Security Charges were introduced following the terrorist

attacks of 11 September 2001 to cover increased insurance and

aviation security costs. Initial uncertainty about the size and

duration of the charges led to confusion over how prices should be

advertised. In fact the charges have remained constant - normally at

around £7 since that time - but some operators have not yet included

the charges in their advertised prices.

The OFT is making it clear that ASC should be included in the

headline price advertised in the brochure. Failure to do so will be

considered a breach of the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which the

OFT has the power to enforce under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act which

came into force in June 2003.

The OFT is currently considering complaints about failure to include

ASC in advertised prices.

Issuing the warning John Vickers, OFT chairman, said:

'The OFT and ABTA are making clear that ASCs should be included in

advertised prices. We will be monitoring the situation and will take

enforcement action where necessary against operators that mislead in

their pricing.'

NOTES

1. ABTA's code of practice has received stage one status under the

OFT's consumer codes of practice approval scheme. It is currently

working towards achieving stage two approval.

2. The OFT's approval scheme comprises two stages:

Stage one - the code sponsor makes a promise that its code meets the

OFT's core criteria in principle. The sponsor must make sure its code

contains measures designed to safeguard and protect consumers'

interests beyond the basic requirements of the law.

Stage two - the code sponsor must prove its code lives up to the

initial promise. The burden of proof lies with the sponsor. The

sponsor must show that the code is being effectively implemented and

that consumer disputes are properly resolved.

3. Part 8 to the Enterprise Act 2002 came into force on 20 June 2003,

replacing the consumer provisions of the Fair Trading Act and the

Stop Now Regulations. The Enterprise Act improves consumer protection

by giving enforcers strengthened powers to obtain court orders

against traders that breach a range of consumer legislation;

controlling activities such as misleading advertising, misleading

price indications, lotteries, sale of goods and services, underage

sales, estate agency, misleading health claims, trade descriptions,

mock auctions, timeshare, unfair terms in consumer contracts,

doorstep selling, distance selling, package travel and consumer

credit.

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