We are still committed to this goal and assist hundreds of caravan and lodge owners achieve favourable results in a variety of disadvantageous situations.
One avenue we regularly used was contact with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). We were instrumental in their publication of a document known as OFT 734: “Guidance on Unfair Terms in Holiday Caravan Agreements”. This was a very useful document to be able to reference when dealing with our members’ disputes with their park operators. The OFT used our members’ magazine as the distribution channel for their consumer advice leaflet: “A Fair Pitch For Your Holiday Caravan”, providing guidance on terms, evaluating fairness and things to look out for, generally.
As I say, very useful. The problem is that the OFT was closed down on 31 March 2014. And with it went OFT 734. It was disappointing to lose this resource and the absence of this well-considered guidance was definitely a blow to consumers in this sector.
History lesson over. The OFT’s responsibilities were transferred to a number of different bodies, including Trading Standards, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
NACO (represented by Steve and Alex) had the opportunity to visit the CMA recently to highlight problems facing caravan and lodge owners on UK holiday parks. We were well-received by four CMA colleagues and found the meeting constructive. We were conscious of the responsibility to explain the sometimes life-changing experiences that our members report to us after their relationship with their park operator goes wrong. We hope that we managed this as well as possible in the allotted time. We also made the plea for a replacement for the much-missed OFT 734, but the CMA no longer routinely publish sector-specific guidance unless it is linked to a project. Hearing our concerns will have informed the CMA’s understanding, but it must be borne in mind that our representation will form part of a process which necessarily includes many other views from market sectors across the board.
We were pleased that the meeting went well and that the door remains open for us to represent the concerns of our members at such an important consumer-focussed organisation. We also made our resources available, should the CMA need further consultation over industry-specific matters.
This meeting definitely felt like a step forward and we thank the CMA for their cordiality, with the sincere hope that the upshot is fairer terms for owners of holiday caravans and lodges.
Although we have a bulging caseload to refer to, it may be that you are - or have been - involved in a situation that you feel we should present to the CMA to help their understanding and forward our aims. If so, please get in touch by phone on 01255 820 321 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will give the case due consideration.