16 Jul

ABTA’s Customer Dispute Resolution Scheme gains Trading Standards’ Approval

ABTA Members will benefit from first travel scheme to be approved ahead of October 1st regulatory changes

ABTA is delighted to announce that its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme has been audited by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and has gained its approval. ABTA’s is the first and only ADR scheme designed specifically for travel companies and their customers to have thus far gained approval ahead of the new Government legislation that comes into effect later this year.

From 1 October 2015 the EU Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) legislation will require all companies to notify their customers of an approved third party who can help resolve disputes. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute is one of the bodies with the authority to approve ADR providers.

While companies will not be forced to use ADR, they will be obliged to tell customers if they do not use ADR, which could negatively impact their reputation. The legislation aims to widen the availability of low-cost ADR processes to consumers who wish to raise complaints against businesses but who do not wish to embark on perhaps expensive and lengthy court action. All ABTA Members and their customers are entitled to use the ADR scheme.

ABTA’s complaints handling scheme has been operating for many years and last year managed 12,000 cases, of which 400 went through to independent arbitration. Recently, ABTA has invested in the scheme by introducing online complaints procedures and improved guidance for customers. The Chartered Institute of Trading Standard’s audit recognised the ease of use of the scheme and the clear guidance for customers.

The audit involved a comprehensive review of ABTA’s complaints procedure, interviews with ABTA staff and evaluations of case files to make sure correct procedures were being followed.

Simon Bunce, ABTA Head of Legal Services, commented: “Offering an effective ADR scheme is a key part of what we offer Members to help them reduce administrative burdens, manage relationships with their customers and ultimately avoid unnecessary court costs. When we heard of the changes we wanted to ensure that our scheme got approval so that we could continue to offer this service to Members. We’re delighted that the scheme has been recognised by Trading Standards and approved well ahead of the October deadline. When the legislation comes into force, the approved scheme will reinforce the message to consumers that booking with an ABTA Member means you can travel with confidence, our established scheme offers support should anything go wrong.”

Andy Allen, Chartered Institute of Trading Standards said: “We are pleased to have approved ABTA's ADR scheme following a rigorous audit procedure. The scheme is a welcome addition within the holiday and travel sector and is ultimately very good news for both consumers and businesses.”