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Legal remedies for spoiled vacations.
The annual vacation is met with high expectation all year by harried adults. It promises a window of time to strengthen close relationships through exciting shared experience, to see new places and learn new things. When the vacations go bad, consumers have a compound loss - the unrecoverable waste of the annual pleasure period, the exasperation of longlaid plans gone awry, the helplessness that accompanies captivity away from home, and the financial loss. What was to be reinvigoration was instead stress and dissappointment.
If the ruined vacation is due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the outbreak of a civil war, a national railway on strike, unusually bad weather, or large crowds, there is not much one can do. Other times, the travel, agent or tour operator may be liable for breach of contract in promising (and charging for) something that was not delivered or, in tort law, for failing to provide good advice on such things as clothing to bring, inoculations to obtain and safety practices to follow.
Whether it is buying an airline ticket or an all-inclusive cruise, legal contracts are made between the vacationer and the service provider. If the service is not provided - where the vacation did not happen - one would only be entitled to recovery of the purchase price and consequential damages arising from the breach, such as the cost spent on a substitute hotel or meals that were promised but not supplied.
The applicable law will be that of the local country where the transaction is made, and rarely will one find effective and prompt legal recourse. These transactions will need to be based on the best available research and trust. Once money has been paid, one is largely vulnerable and subject to the integtity of the seller.
Enjoyment and fun are hard to quantify and guarantee. Generally, if the vacationer is not satisfied, there can be no legal protest. Disappointment and sadness in all breaches of contract are not compensated unless the breach was deliberate or if one suffers a palpable physical breakdown or illness as a result. If it were otherwise, everyone might come to court to complain and collect a few dollars for a shortfall of enjoyment on the trip. Despite the marketing chimera of fun and fantasy, vacation operators are not selling or guaranteeing enjoyment and happiness. They are contracting to supply the services associated with the vacation which vacantioners convert to their personal wersion of fun.
As the leisure industry grows,travel agencies and tour operators should be careful to ensure that they can deliver on the promises they make in their marketing. Increasingly, consumers, individually and through class actions, are being outfitted with legal remedies and judicial empathies to hold the vacation industry accountable for their enjoyment.