Nine out of ten travel agencies use unfair business practices, according to Economy Minister Juraj Miškov, who was speaking on Tuesday, October 4, at a presentation of the findings of a recent inspection by the Slovak Trade Inspectorate (SOI).
"I have reason to believe that fair business practices have failed," Miškov said in connection with the outcome of the inspection. The inspection found shortcomings in 42 out of 53 – or 79.2 percent – of the monitored agencies. However, this figure represented a fall from the 86.5 percent found in 2009.
The inspectors looked at the trip agreements drawn up by the agencies, the TASR newswire wrote. "It is truly unbelievable to discover that 88 percent of the agreements didn't comply with the law in 2009 and that the number rose to 95 percent in 2011," said Nadežda Machutová, head of the Slovak Trade Inspectorate (SOI), at the same press conference.
The inspection also targeted 10 major travel agencies that are members of the Slovak Association of Travel Agencies (SACKA). SACKA's head Mikuláš Milko said in response to the inspection that most of the shortcomings found were unintentional and not meant to knowingly mislead customers. There are currently more than 300 travel agencies licensed to operate on the Slovak market; 170 of them are SACKA members.
The Economy Ministry said it would draw up four measures aimed at improving the practices of travel agencies, in cooperation with the SOI. These are expected to include a clear definition of terms and conditions, and clauses that will prevent travel agencies from deviating from the rules. Second, a travel agency will need to be available to clients from the moment that they gather for their trip (currently, travel agencies tend to cater to their clients only after they arrive at their destination). A clear and complete stipulation of the price of a trip, including all kinds of fees, will also be obligatory, said Miškov. The fourth measure is designed to keep clients better informed about what happens if their travel agency goes bust.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
6. Oct 2011 at 10:00