Court orders tour agency to pay Rs 2 lakh to couple

A luxury tours and travels company has been ordered to pay out Rs 2 lakh to a Sion resident for the rude behaviour and financial strain meted out to him on a trip to Europe. Naren Pravin Sanghvi and his wife, who live near Sion Circle, had gone on the 2010 Grand Europe Tour with Gem Tours and Travels, a tour company operating from Hughes Road. As per the company brochures, the 21 nights-22 days package was to cost Rs 1,69,999 per person. Accordingly, Sanghvi paid Rs 3,40,000 by cheque to the company. 

When the group reached Amsterdam, the travel company demanded an additional amount of Rs 40,000 from the couple via telephone without giving them any reason. At the time, Sanghvi insisted that he’d paid the full amount. The same demand was made when the couple arrived in Switzerland, and a third time again in Nice, France. In Nice, Gem representatives behaved rudely with the couple, even insulting them in front of other travellers. At no point did the company ask for the amount from Sanghvi in writing.

Faced with the threat of their tickets being cancelled, Sanghvi paid Rs 40,000 on June 19, 2010 to the company’s representative, Agrim Shah. He dragged Gem to court in September 2010. Gem contended that the per-person cost of the tour was Rs 1,90,000, and not Rs 1,69,999, an argument which the court threw out after it saw a copy of the company’s brochures.

Apart from the tour cost, there had also been a dispute over the exchange rate on the day Sanghvi’s cheque was encashed, with Sanghvi claiming it was Rs 55.15 per euro, while the company insisting on Rs 63 to the euro. On the basis of the day’s card rate filed by Sanghvi, the court ruled that the exchange rate was Rs 55.15.

“There is no whisper about fluctuation clause in the itinerary. The opposite party failed to establish why the complainant is not entitled to claim the excess price of euro as per fluctuation in currency rates. Therefore, there is no harm to grant prayers of complainant seeking exchange difference of price of euro,” the bench of in-charge president UV Jawalikar and member SS Patil observed.

The court ordered a full reimbursement of the excess amount taken by Gem. The court also granted Rs 2 lakh in compensation to the couple, observing, “The complainant with his spouse had been to the tour in order to enjoy. During such period, asking the complainant to pay an amount which is not outstanding and the threat of cancellation of further tour would certainly deprive (them) from the peaceful enjoyment of planned tour and received a set back which cannot be compensated in terms of money.”  

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