Integration processes generally go hand in hand with the foundation of large multinational corporations in all fields of services, and with the creation of a wide non-transparent product range. To protect customers as service consumers from economically stronger partner, new legislation on the European level has been adopted to strengthen the position of consumers in individual fields of the consumer society, including tourism.
With the aim to provide protective regulation in the single European market with some special tourism services Directive 2008/122/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on the protection of consumers in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts (“the Directive”) was adopted. The Directive was fully transposed into Slovak law by the Act No. 161/2011 Coll. on the protection of customers in provision of certain tourism services (“the Act”); the Act is slated to come into effect on July 11, 2011. The new legal regulation is important for consumers contracting special services in tourism and also for providers of the specific tourism services (“traders”), or for those who intend to include some new products provided in the Act in their services portfolio.
• Timeshare (i.e. reservation of one or more overnight accommodations for a duration of more than one year for more than one period of occupation, previously regulated by the Civil Code),
• Long-term holiday product (provides to the consumer, e.g. in form of paid membership for more than one year, a right to obtain discounts or other benefits in respect of tourism services),
• Participation in an exchange system (allows for a consideration that the consumer participates in a system of exchange of benefits from a timeshare between the consumers participating in the exchange system),
• Intermediation of resale (allows a consumer to sell or buy a timeshare or a long-term holiday product for a consideration).
The Act imposes on the traders a wide range of disclosure obligations that they must provide with respect to consumers. While this pre-contractual information must be offered to the consumers before the consumer is bound by the respective contract and that by means of the standard information form as set out in the Act for particular contractual types.
In terms of marketing activities of the traders, particularly interesting is, that it is prohibited to present timeshare or long-term holiday products as an expedient investment.
An integral part of each contract must always be a form prescribed by the Act - it defines in detail the terms and conditions under which the consumer may withdraw from the contract and at the same time serves as a template for contract withdrawal. Consumers may withdraw from the above contracts without giving any reason within a period of 14 calendar days from the day when the consumer receives the contract or any binding preliminary contract. Before the end of the withdrawal period, any advance payment, provision of guarantees, reservation of money on accounts, explicit acknowledgement of debt or any other consideration to the trader or to any third party by the consumer is prohibited. In the case of the consumer’s timely withdrawal from the contract, the trader is not entitled to payment of any service costs for the period until withdrawal.
In conclusion, although the above quasi new holiday products may be an interesting tool for traders, it is important to make sure that this business activity is in compliance with legal standards of the consumer protection regulations.
JUDr. Michal Kmec, Associate,
Ružička Csekes s.r.o.
This article is of an informative nature only. Should you need any further information on the issues addressed in this article, please contact our Law Office:
Ruzicka Csekes s.r.o.
Tel: +421 (0)2 3233-3422
27. Jun 2011 at 0:00