Contract Regulation 2013 Review

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The BEIS review of the Contract Regulation 2013 closed for comment on 1 May and we have responded directly and feed views in to the tourism Alliances response on your behalf.

This piece of legislation concerns,  “Cancellation rights and responsibilities for distance and off premises sales” which were introduced in 2014.  BEIS officials were seeking views on all aspects of the regulation but notable the review documents specifically highlighted that: “hotel bookings, flights, car hire, concerts and other ticket or services relating to leisure activities to take place on a specified period” are currently exempt from the legislation and went on to say that,  “Initial feedback from some stakeholders suggest that in some circumstance, certain exemptions could be causing detriment, for example hotel bookings (an area of interest to CMA [Competition and Markets Authority]) and urgent repairs. We are keen to gather further views and evidence”.

After due consideration I have focused our comments solely on the above tourism issues.  Key points made where that:

  • Hotel bookings, flights, car hire, concerts and other tickets or services, including indoor and outdoor event, where exempt for good practical reason.
  • These goods and services, in most circumstance, if returned (cancelled) without adequate time to relist, promote and resell are essential perishable goods and should be treated as non returnable for the purpose of this regulation., hence the exemption. Voluntary rights of cancellation can and are still often offered but should remain a matter covered by the T&C of  the sale and not statutory rights.
  • Many of the businesses impacted, especially in the accommodation sector were SME or micro businesses.  In the sector, particularly, these businesses were the least ably to resell distress stock at short notice and the least able to absorb the lost business and lost income associated with any fully refunded, late cancellation.
  • Late notice, no notice or no show cancellation would be problematic for ticketed indoor concerts and events and potentially ruinous for outdoor events which are subject to external influence beyond the organiser’s control. If for example customer could cancel booked ticket simply because it is bit dull today or the forecast for tomorrow isn’t exactly brilliant, many events would become unsustainable.
  • Such events are a mainstay of many destinations’ summer and shoulder month programmes most are already marginal and many are run for reasons other than pure profit for example the greater good of whole destination and its wider business community.
  • The development of events programmes was a feature of  Governments own tourism development strategies. Imperilling ticketed indoor and especial outdoor events is counter productive and isn’t in the interests of either the industry or the consumer.

The general points around why the exemption exists and around accommodation in particular had been made to the Tourism Alliance by other trade bodies. The concerts and events issue had not.  Hopefully the concerts and events points, which are probably of the most direct concern to destination management interests, will have been represented to BIAS in other organisation’s responses and not simply in ours and, due to our intervention, in that of the Tourism Alliance.

As this is a review, BIAS would still have to formulate detailed proposed changes, if indeed the review recommends any. These would then have to be formally consult on before they could be implemented, so there would be at least one more opportunity to counter any potential proposed changes to the current exemptions.  Hopefully the notion of the need for such change will have been  dealt with at this the first hurdle when it is more easily addressed. Countering something later at a more developed stage is far more difficult and has not guarantee of success.

I hope you are all happy with the position represented to BIAS.  If it helps you locally please feel free to let your local partners know what has been done on their behalf through your membership of  British Destinations.

Please do share your thoughts and comments

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