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Fletcher to inform consumers more clearly about the conditions of its vouchers

Going forward, Fletcher Hotels will inform consumers more clearly about the conditions that apply to the vouchers that the company offers as special deals for hotel rooms. Fletcher has made this commitment to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), which had confronted the company about this issue. Both ACM and the Dutch Consumers’ Association (in Dutch: Consumentenbond) received complaints from consumers who had difficulties redeeming their vouchers. Fletcher also made the commitment to inform consumers more clearly about the conditions that apply to its vouchers. Going forward, the price will also be presented including the unavoidable additional costs.

Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, adds: “It is important that consumers that buy hotel vouchers know in advance what they can use this voucher for and, more importantly, what they cannot use it for. The number of hotels, rooms, and dates for which the voucher can be used is limited. This must be clear prior to the purchase, so that consumers know what they are buying. This will prevent disappointment afterwards.”

What was this case about?

Consumers spend tens of euros to buy, either online or in brick-and-mortar stores, vouchers through third parties, which can be redeemed for a night’s stay at a Fletcher hotel. With these vouchers, they buy the right to a night’s stay at a Fletcher hotel. At some point after the purchase, consumers redeem their vouchers by booking a hotel room for a specific date. Consumers complained that the number of dates and hotels was limited, and that they had to pay unexpected additional fees.

ACM has now made sure that, going forward, Fletcher will clearly inform consumers in advance in what hotels these vouchers can be redeemed without having to pay additional fees. This is the case for only a small subset of the entire selection of hotels. Fletcher will indicate more clearly that extra fees apply to stays in four-star hotels (which 80 percent of Fletcher hotels are) and to stays that include a Saturday and/or a Sunday. Fletcher has stopped charging booking costs. However, the tourist tax must still be paid separately since the exact amount of this tax differs per municipality, and because no specific hotel is selected when purchasing the voucher.

A 14-day cooling-off period applies to vouchers bought online if these have not been redeemed yet. Consumers that cancel their purchase within the cooling-off period are entitled to a full refund. Consumers are now also clearly informed about these rights. Over the next few months, ACM will keep a close watch on Fletcher to see if they comply with the rules. Consumers continue to have the opportunity to file reports about Fletcher hotel vouchers with ACM.

Swift approach to consumer problems

ACM has many different instruments at its disposal for solving consumer problems. In this case, ACM chooses to confront the company in order to solve the problem. In other cases, ACM can choose to impose a fine or an order subject to periodic penalty payments after an investigation.