ASATA column: Check the fine print

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At the risk of stating the obvious, ASATA members have an incredibly important responsibility and role to fulfill. They are seen by their corporate clients and by the third party suppliers as the facilitators of travel bookings. But this role can take on many shapes and forms, and extends from booking a simple return journey to a detailed itinerary, including complex airline bookings, hotel reservations and car rentals. Coupled with those complex bookings comes the responsibility of interpreting and articulating the relevant terms and conditions of each of the supply chain to the customer. However, very often the ASATA members have no contact with the passenger directly, and this can create problems.

Unfortunately, as with most things, a lot can get lost in translation, and at the point of signing contracts, the terms and conditions often don’t get read. Our colleagues in the car rental industry repeatedly say that drivers who collect the cars are completely unaware of the terms and conditions, and what the implications are, once they put pen to paper. The ‘impact’ (excuse the pun), of course, is only felt when things go wrong and one is forced to return to those terms and conditions for a closer look, to see who is liable for what. 

Did you know that if additional drivers are not registered within the rental agreement, then in the event of an accident the cover is compromised? Sounds like a simple thing to check, but you’d be surprised at how many travellers don’t know this. Travelling on dirt roads and under the influence of alcohol also is a breach of contract.  It is critical, therefore, that the drivers of rental cars are aware of the implications and take the necessary responsibility. A good piece of advice is to get the lowdown from your ASATA member and distribute it accordingly to the travellers. That may well ensure that you avoid any nasty surprises.

Robyn Christie

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