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OFT clamp down on Spanish holiday scams

Mon 21st Feb 2011

The UK's Office of fair Trading is holding a one-day camapign at a number of airports in both the UK and Spain to advise travellers about bogus holiday clubs and to make them of recent changes to consumer rights regulations. The campaign coincides with an increase in passenger numbers due to the half-term break at many schools in the UK.

Recent research by the OFT has revealed that almost 400,000 people from the UK fall victim to some kind of holiday scam every year, and last year alone this was thought to have netted 1billion pounds for the criminals responsible.

The OFT and local trading standards officers have teamed up to copy the tactics used by such bogus holiday club touts by giving away fake scratchcards for 'free holidays' at airports including Bristol, Dundee, Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Newquay and Stansted.

The scratchcards aim to increase awareness by warning of the scame, and also advise that consumers' rights across Europe are increased from Wednesday February 23 to give greater to their legal rights if they should decide to go ahead with such a purchase.

These increased rights include :

- A 14 day cooling off period during which the buyer can change their mind without any penalty or fee

- No payments can be requested during the 14 day period

- All Information should be supplied in writing and in the buyers chosen language

- A cancelation form should be supplied with all paperwork and documentation supplied to the buyer

Although there are many reputable and long established holiday companies, there are an even greater number that flout regulations and prey on unsuspecting travelers, often taking thousands of pounds from clients for what is essentially no more than a 'preferntial booking service'.

The UK's Minsiter for Consumer affairs welcomed the campaign :"It's important that unscrupulous holiday club providers don't take advantage of people with empty promises and dodgy sales tactics. "The new rules, coming into force this week, will protect consumers and mean that people will be clearer about their rights and improve their confidence in legitimate businesses."

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