ACM instructs drugstore chain to adjust conditions of travel coupon deal
As instructed by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), Dutch drugstore chain Kruidvat adjusted the conditions of the coupon deal for a three-day mystery trip. During the promotional period, consumers can purchase a coupon at Kruidvat, which can be redeemed at tour operator Flywise for a mystery trip. At first, Kruidvat did not offer a cooling-off period (right of withdrawal) of 14 days, which is statutorily required, on coupons sold online. Kruidvat has already adjusted this. In addition, ACM reprimanded Flywise, the company that organizes these trips. It has made improvements to its operations, which means that Flywise currently complies with the rules that are apply to the sale of package holidays. Both companies fully cooperate with ACM in the implementation of these adjustments.
Coupon deal for mystery trip
Kruidvat recently launched a promotional deal involving travel coupons for three-day mystery trips within Europe. When purchasing a coupon for EUR 89.99 per person, the consumer has no idea what the travel dates are or what the airport of departure is. This information only becomes clear when the coupon is redeemed at the tour operator collaborating with Kruidvat, which, in this case, is Flywise.
Based on availability, Flywise selects the destination within Europe to which the consumer can travel. This deal generated a considerable amount of interest. ACM received indications from media reports about various issues that were possibly not right. ACM subsequently found that consumers unjustfully were not given the opportunity to cancel the purchase of the coupons if they had bought them online in Kruidvat’s online store. In addition, the tour operator’s warranty scheme and its general terms and conditions did not meet statutory requirements.
Eventually, this has led to the following adjustments:
- Kruidvat now makes it clear before consumers purchase the coupons that they have the opportunity to cancel their online purchases within 14 days, as long as the coupons have not been redeemed yet;
- Kruidvat retroactively also offers this opportunity to consumers who already bought coupons online but who have not redeemed them yet;
- The tour operator offering these trips, Flywise, will improve its warranty scheme;
- Flywise will bring its general terms and conditions in compliance with statutory requirements.
Evert Jan Hummelen, acting Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, explains: “Even if mystery trips are involved, tour operators still have to comply with the law. That means that the conditions of the deal must be clear, and that the tour operator ensures that a sound warranty scheme is in place. We wish to prevent consumers from being unpleasantly surprised. By taking action now, we also create clarity about possible similar interventions in the future. ”
ACM’s oversight of the travel sector
ACM enforces compliance with consumer protection rules. Over the next few months, ACM will keep a closer watch on whether or not tour operators comply with the rules, and, more precisely, with the requirement to have taken care of at least the warranty scheme for bankruptcies. New rules for package holidays are expected to come into effect on July 1, 2018. After that date, more providers of package holidays are expected to have such a warranty scheme for bankruptcies than currently is the case. That is why ACM already points out the existing rules to providers of package holidays.