NEW DELHI

Travel firm held guilty

NEW DELHI OCT. 10. It was probably the easiest U.S. visa for this travel agency to get. Having charged Kusum Sharma for a visa to visit her "own" country, it was exactly the kind of over enthusiasm that the Sharmas could well have done without on their "dream'' holiday. And instead of pleasant memories of their classic tour of Europe, they spent an year in court trying to get their money back.

A district consumer disputes redress forum held SOTC - Kuoni Travels guilty of deficiency of service and directed the travel agency to pay up Rs. 7,200 for the visa. The travel agency was also asked to refund Rs. 4,000 for a meal that was not provided to the Sharmas. The travel agency was asked to pay a total of Rs.11, 200 at 9 per cent interest, along with Rs. 3,000 as costs.

A series of broken promises was what the Sharmas remembered of their trip to Europe. Charging them for a visa they did not need, the travel agent did not even provide any documentation or processing, they alleged. They further claimed that they were promised a lunch and dinner at Zurich, but though they were charged for a full meal, they were not given anything to eat and were forced to buy a sandwich for 10 Euros for lunch.

The Sharmas also alleged that they spent Rs.7, 700 for a cruise on the Thames and the London bus service, which they were promised but did not get.

After going through all the evidence, a bench of the New Delhi consumer disputes redress forum, presided by L.C Jain, stated that the 19-days Classic Europe Tour package clearly shows that it includes all meals and by not providing them the meal in Zurich, the travel agency was guilty of deficiency.

The bench also stated that the travel agency was guilty of unfair trade practice, as they charged Ms. Sharma for a visa she did not need. The travel agency has not provided any documentation or processing as they were required to and therefore charging this amount was illegal and unfair, the bench observed.

With regard to Rs. 7,700 incurred by the Sharmas for a cruise on Thames and a card for the London bus service, the bench stated that these facilities were not provided in the tour and, therefore, the travel agency had not committed any deficiency of service.

The bench directed the travel agency to pay Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 7,200 charged for the visa. The travel agency was also required to pay Rs. 3,000 as costs.