Are you planning your next vacation or business trip? The following tips may be of interest to you before you purchase a trip.
Does the agency you will be doing business with hold a licence from the Office de la protection du consommateur? Such a licence is mandatory for any agency operating in Québec.
Why deal with an agency that has a licence?
Travel agents must supply a surety to the Office in order to receive a licence. It is an amount of money that can be used to compensate you should the agents fail to respect their obligations.
Doing business with a travel agent who holds a licence allows you to benefit from the financial protection provided by the Compensation Fund for Customers of Travel Agents. This fund can be used to reimburse you when a paid service is not rendered, for instance, following the closure of an airline.
You cannot benefit from these forms of protection if the agency does not hold a licence or if you make a reservation directly with the service provider (hotel, airline, etc.).
How to find out whether a travel agency holds a licence
To make sure that your travel agent holds a licence from the Office, go to the Get information about a merchant section.
Another way of finding out is to look for the words “Québec licensee” in the travel agent's advertising material, Web documents or print literature.
In addition, the travel agent is required to display the permit issued by the Office de la protection du consommateur for his or her travel agency, in full view, in each of his or her establishments.
After making sure your travel agency holds a licence, check whether the employee with whom you are doing business holds a travel counsellor certificate.
Travel counsellors are employees who work for travel agencies. When you do business with travel counsellors, make sure that they have a valid certificate from the Office la protection du consommateur. This is particularly important if you make a purchase from a counsellor who does not work at the offices of the agency.
What is a travel counsellor certificate?
A travel counsellor certificate is an official document issued by the Office. It certifies that counsellors are aware of their obligations and responsibilities when conducting travel sales. To receive their certificate, counsellors must pass an exam on the law and regulations governing the travel sector.
Advantages of dealing with a certified counsellor
In doing business with a counsellor who is certified by the Office, you are making sure that the counsellor works for a travel agency that holds a licence. As a result, you are protected by the Compensation fund for customers of travel agents.
Making sure that a travel counsellor has a valid certificate
The Office provides you with a search tool so you can find information about a travel counsellor.
Were you are unable to find the travel counsellor with this search tool? Be vigilant: the travel counsellor may not be authorized to engage in travel-related activities.
Agencies that offer you to purchase a trip on the Internet or by telephone must respect the rules prescribed under law.
Validity period of displayed prices
Travel agents who have a Web site enabling you to buy online must display this framed message:
Prices advertised on our site are valid if you purchase services in one single session. If you disconnect from our site, prices could be different in your next session.
If no framed message is displayed, the agencies must indicate the period of validity during which the services may be purchased at the advertised price.
The Web site of the agency must also make references to "Québec licence holders". The section used to Making sure the travel agency has a licence provides information about the travel agent’s licence.
Other required information
All travel agents who make it possible for you to make an online or telephone purchase are required to provide a detailed description of the offer. Such offer must contain the following information:
- the name and contact information of the merchant;
- a detailed description of each service;
- total amount of the purchase, including related fees and taxes;
- a description of the required fees (customs duties, brokerage fees, etc.);
- the payment terms;
- the currency (Euros, US dollars, etc.) used to pay the transaction;
- the delivery date or waiting period, and, if applicable, the delivery mode and the name of the transport company;
- cancellation terms and refund policy of the travel agent.
If you accept the offer from the travel agent, he or she must send you a written contract within 15 days. This contract must be presented in a format that you can print and save for your records.
The travel agent must give you the documents that are necessary for your trip at least 7 days before your departure date. If the trip is purchased less than 7 days before the departure, the travel agent must give you the documents before you leave on your trip.
Advertisements made by travel agencies are subject to certain rules. Agencies are required to mention certain information.
Advertisements and their required content
The Travel Agents Act requires all written travel advertisements to include certain information, such as:
- transportation services, accommodation and meals included in the trip;
- the name of the airline carrier;
- the duration of the trip;
- total amount you are required to pay if the price of the trip is indicated;
- if the price of the trip is indicated, the total amount you are required to pay, as well as an indication as to whether or not this amount includes taxes (GST and QST).
The Office has prepared a few examples of advertisements for you to see:
Only the following fees can be added to the advertised price:
- taxes (GST and QST);
- the Air Travellers Security Charge for persons using an airline carrier as required by the federal government.
If applicable, the advertisement must clearly state that the taxes will be added to the cost of the trip.
Travel agencies cannot change the price of your trip within 30 days of your departure. Prior to this 30-day period, price changes can only occur under 2 circumstances.
When the price can be changed
The price of a trip can only be changed if your contract provides for an amendment clause. Thus the price can be changed if:
- a fuel price increase occurs and is imposed by the carrier;
- an increase in the exchange rate occurs. To be able to change the price of the trip, the exchange rate applicable 45 days prior to the date of the trip must have increased by at least 5% since the day you concluded the contract.
For contracts concluded in person, the travel agent must inform you of this clause verbally and in writing before you sign the contract.
Are you planning on finalizing the contract on the Internet? The travel agent is not required to inform you of this clause verbally. However, the agent must bring this clause to your attention using a different means of communication.
If the contract is concluded by telephone, the travel agent is not required to inform you immediately of this clause in writing. However, the agent must send you a contract containing this clause in the next 15 days.
Solutions to a price increase
If the price change is equal or greater than 7% of the price of the contract, you can ask to be reimbursed for your trip. You can also accept to switch your trip for a similar trip.
Before purchasing a trip, enquire about the cancellation terms.
The reimbursement or non-reimbursement conditions in the event of a cancellation must appear on your receipt or in a brochure describing the purchased services and the terms of the contract. Take the time to read them.
If you purchase your trip by telephone or on the Internet within 7 days of your departure, the cancellation terms can be communicated verbally.
To find out more about this subject, go to the page that deals with Cancelling a trip.
You can consult the following resources in order to get ready for your trip:
It is advisable to get travel insurance before you leave. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises or unnecessary stress in emergency situations, take the time to read your contract and write down all pertinent information.
Last update : September 14, 2023
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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.