Money

Consumer advice: Summer holidays

Tips and tricks to get underway on your dream holiday.

With more than 1600 motels, motor inns and motor lodges, there is plenty of room for variation. And even with the wide number of review sites, it pays to make certain checks yourself.

Here are some simple tips:

• Check all your requirements can be met – if you want a quiet room, say so.

• Make sure you know what everything will cost.

• Check if penalties apply if you cancel or change your booking.

• Confirm the arrangement in writing (by email).

Consumers have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act. Many accommodation providers belong to the Motel Association and it expects members to comply with its Code of Ethics. These contain service and facility guidelines. Some of the problems our members have come across include:

• False or incorrect advertising – you may be told that the motel has a pool or spa, but it’s closed for maintenance. Unless you have been informed in advance, you could be entitled to cancel the booking and go elsewhere.

• Price hikes – if the price goes up after the deal is struck, it’s a clear breach of contract. Once you agree on a price for a room, you do not have to pay more.

• Disruption – if the unit next door is partying into the night or the neighbour’s dog won’t stop barking, you can ask the motelier to have the noise stopped or lowered.

• Charges for phone calls – everyone expects to pay for toll calls, but people are often surprised to be charged for local calls as well. The Motel Association says moteliers add a margin to local and toll calls to help pay for line charges and call-logging software.

• Extra people – if you turn up with an additional person, even a child, they are likely to cost extra.

• Accessible facilities – since 1985, all new motels must provide 10% of their units for people with disabilities. Tell the motelier of your needs when you book.

• Ratings – apart from the various free website ratings, motels use a Qualmark five-star system, which assesses quality, as well as the level of service and facilities. Be wary of self-ratings!

If you run into problems, try to resolve it with the motelier. If you’re not satisfied, take your case to the Disputes Tribunal. You should also make a complaint to the Motel Association.

"Started planning your summer trip away? Booking a motel has never been easier, but if the only question you ask is about cost, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t live up to expectations."

Sue Chetwin - CEO CONSUMER NZ

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