Our purpose is to assist consumers when making cross-border purchases within the EEA
TOURISM: PACKAGE TRAVEL - PLANING YOUR OWN HOLIDAY - HOTELS - RENTING A CAR - ROAMING CHARGES - PASSPORTS, VISAS AND HEALTH INSURANCE - ADR
Special law applies to package holidays. Under the Icelandic law on package holidays (this law is an implementation of a European directive so similar rules apply throughout Europe) a package holiday is a combination of two or more components that are pre-arranged and sold to you by a travel agent or tour operator and will last for a period of more than 24 hours or over-night accommodation is included. A package can be made up of transport, accommodation or other tourist services (e.g. guided tours, rented car, tickets to events), but in order to be a package tour at least two of those components need to be included. It doesn’t matter if you are asked to pay separately for different components of the package it is still a “package”. If you are unhappy with your package tour and feel you need to complain it is very important to complain immediately, either to the trader or his local representative. If the problem is not solved gather as much evidence as possible (photographs etc.) as this will help you in proving there actually was a problem. See further info on package travel.
Please keep in mind that the ECC-Net only assists consumers in connection with cross-border transactions. In most cases consumers buy package holidays from travel agents in their own country, in such cases Icelandic consumers should seek help from the Consumers’ Association (www.ns.is). You can check with your local ECC-centre on where to turn in such situations.
PLANING YOUR OWN HOLIDAY
Nowadays it is quite common that consumers plan their own holidays, rather than buying package trips, people buy their own airline tickets and accommodation on-line. This can be more practical and also means that consumers can decide for themselves precisely where they stay, when they go home, via which airports they go etcetera. In most cases such transactions do not cause any trouble for consumers, but of course there are some things to be ware of. For instance consumers are not protected by the law on package travel when booking all aspects of the trip separately themselves. Before booking anything on-line consumers are advised to read our brochure about e-commerce. See also further information about on-line shopping.
If you are on a package holiday and accommodation is part of the package you should complain to the tour operator/travel agent as well as hotel staff, should something be wrong with the hotel. Many people however book their own accommodation on-line. In such cases (although most of the time hotel booking on-line is absolutely safe there are exceptions) it is important to take some precautionary measures before booking. You should for instance “google” the hotel and the booking site or ask Howard, the shopping assistant, in order to find out if the hotel really exist, if the booking site is safe, what others say about the hotel etcetera. Most booking sites post comments from previous guests, and it can be very helpful to read those.
You should also take great care to read the terms and conditions. For instance the amount of fee charged by hotels in case of cancellation can vary greatly. In some cases the total price of the stay is charged even when cancelled some days prior to estimated arrival, while in others you can cancel your room without charge up till one day prior to arrival. If you have any doubts as to whether you can make the trip it might therefore be better to book a room without any cancellation cost, even if rooms with such conditions can be a bit more expensive.
Furthermore it is good to keep in mind that standards for hotel classification (for example the star system) can vary within the EEA. So that for example three-star hotels don´t necessarily offer the same comfort throughout Europe. See here a report on hotel classification in each EEA state. To facilitate your search for a hotel meeting your needs you should also look at the report Comparison of minimum criteria for 3-star hotels in the EU. By reading he report you should find out what to expect when booking a three-star hotel in each European country.
RENTING A CAR
While staying abroad many consumers chose to rent a car, as it can be very convenient to have your own car. Usually cars are booked beforehand on-line, so the same rules apply as usually when making on-line purchases. However, the right of withdrawal doesn't apply when booking a car on-line so you don´t have the right to cancel your booking without any reason or cost. Here you can find a very helpful and detailed guide for consumers on what to do before hiring a car, when collecting it, during the rental period and when returning the car. The most important thing is to read the contract – even the fine print! Make sure you know how much you will be liable for in case of an accident. Make sure you inspect the vehicle carefully with a car rental company employee present both when picking up and returning the car. Before leaving after returning the car, request a written statement that the car was returned undamaged. If this is not possible (in many cases cars are returned out of working hours at designated drop-off areas) take care to take pictures of the car, its location and also the mileage meter. Also you need to familiarize yourself with the traffic rules of the country where you are staying.
It is quite simple to use your mobile phone while abroad, the phone simply connects to a network in the country you’re visiting and then your home operator charges you for the usage abroad. A few years ago phoning home from abroad was so expensive that phone cost could easily be a substantial part of the total travelling cost! Using your phone abroad is still more expensive than using it at home, but thanks to the EU’s mobile roaming regulation there are limits to what phone companies can charge you when making calls home from another country within the EEA. Please keep in mind that those price caps only apply within the EEA, so when using your mobile in other countries, such as the USA, the cost can still be very high. See further advice on how to use your phone abroad.
PASSPORTS, VISAS AND HEALTH INSURANCE
When going abroad it is important to have a valid passport. When travelling within Europe your passport should have a validity period exceeding your travel date by three months. Otherwise you might risk being denied boarding. When travelling outside the EEA it is very important to find out whether a visa is required, sadly we receive some complaints from travellers who, lacking a visa, have been sent back home.
It is always wise to travel with the European Health Insurance Card, but citizens from the EEA should be able to get the card from their social security, to access state healthcare in other European countries at reduced fees or for free. If you are visiting another part of the world find out what your insurance covers.
THE RULING COMMITTEE IN TRAVEL INDUSTRY MATTERS/ADR
If consumers have problems regarding purchases from traders who are members of SAF (The Icelandic Travel Industry Association; members include hotels, airlines, restaurants, car rentals etcetera) and the dispute can’t be settled by other means it is possible to turn to The Ruling Committee in Travel Industry Matters, which is the ADR-body (alternative dispute resolution) that handles travel-related cases in Iceland. You can find our brochure about ADR-bodies in Iceland (including this one) here and a detailed overview of the committee and its rulings over a five year period. Both Icelandic and foreign consumers can put cases before the committee. See further info on ADR-bodies in general.