Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service

Another “Free Holiday” Winner!

West Yorkshire Trading Standards has recently had a flurry of calls concerning supposedly “free holidays”. Leaflets have been received, mainly in the Leeds and Bradford area from a company operating as Free Time Travel, based in Tunbridge Wells. WYTSS emphasises that this offer is NOT connected in any way to Free Time Travel Ltd based in Wetherby.

Unfortunately, what at first may appear to be a prize or a bargain offer may not turn out to be such a great deal after all. Often these schemes have hidden costs such as booking fees, travel insurance, airport tax and so on, all of which can add up to a considerable amount. In some instances the “lucky winner” may have to pay a fee to claim a prize such as a holiday voucher. Unfortunately claiming the voucher doesn’t guarantee that you will get the holiday you want at the price you want to pay. As with most things that seem too good to be true there are often strings attached.

Another problem consumers encounter is not being able to contact the company. Constantly engaged phone lines and unanswered letters all add to the confusion.

By law travel companies are required to be bonded in case of financial problems. Many of these schemes require upfront payment not to a travel company but to a marketing company who simply run the promotion. In this case a “processing fee” of £34.50 is requested. The small print makes it clear that the processing fee is not refundable. If the marketing company was to go bust, it is unlikely that a consumer would be able to recover any upfront payment.

Martin Wood, West Yorkshire Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Joint Services said,
“Consumers should be very careful before responding to these “free holiday” offers, especially when the schemes are really just another way of marketing. Before parting with any money take time to consider what it is you are getting into and what you may or may not get for your money.”

The holiday industry is an extremely competitive market place and it really does pay to shop around. Always read the terms and conditions and don’t be pressurised into parting with money unless you know what the scheme involves”.

Further information and advice about this or any other consumer problems is advisable from The West Yorkshire Consumer Helpline on 01133 848 848 – Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6.30pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm.

For further information contact:

John Field Consumer Services Manager – 0113 2898238.

Paul Cooper Divisional Manager – 0113 2898240

Graham Hebblethwaite Divisional Manager / General Media Contact - 0113 2898218