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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Trouble-free holidays - UOKiK's tips and hints

< previous | next > 09.07.2020

Trouble-free holidays - UOKiK's tips and hints
  • The disparities between the offer and the actual standard of service. Rolada ustrzycka instead of oscypek, Alaska pollock instead of cod and stale frying oil.
  • Such unpleasant surprises can happen to consumers on holidays.
  • As every year, we kindly remind you what to pay attention to when going on holiday and what rights we have in case of any irregularities.

- The holidays have just started. While on their holidays, a lot of Poles visit nearby restaurants and bars and use means of transport. However, not everything always goes as planned, which is why the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection warns, as each year, of possible unpleasant surprises for consumers during their holiday trips. I would like to remind that the basic right of every consumer is the right to make a complaint if, for example, the tour operator fails to comply with the agreed agenda, the hotel room differs from the one booked and the meal served in the restaurant does not match the menu description – says Tomasz Chróstny, the President of UOKiK.

Rolada ustrzycka instead of oscypek, dirty and rusty fridges

One should not always believe what is stated in the menu, the Trade Inspection Authority's audit shows. Sometimes cooks use cheaper ingredients or serve smaller portions. Last holidays, the inspectors checked 169 restaurants and bars visited by Poles during their holidays, e.g. in holiday resorts, at gas stations and train stations. In almost 87% of them the irregularities were found: ranging from incorrect labelling, too small portions, to cheating on a type of meat, fish or cheese. All in all, the inspectors checked almost 5 thousand product batches and questioned approx. 2.9 thousand of them.

The major irregularities found during the inspection were as follows:

  • switching ingredients, e.g. sole fillet was substituted with yellowfin sole fillet, kebab contained beef and poultry instead of lamb meat as declared, oscypek turned out to be a cheaper rolada ustrzycka, and beef pierogi had no beef but only pork,
  • serving too small portions, e.g. the weight of 2 portions of beef chops (from burgers) was to be a total of 300 g, in fact it was 217 g,
  • missing list of ingredients and allergen information,
  • expired products,
  • improper food storage and poor sanitary conditions, e.g. dirty, over-frosted or defective refrigerators,
  • incomplete information on prices.

Dining out in a bar or a restaurant? Know your rights:

  1. Full information on meals. Before ordering a meal, you should know what you order. The menu or price list must include the full composition of the meal, including the allergens. It is not your job to get this information from the waiter.
  2. Full information on price. If the menu includes prices for e.g. 100 g of meat or fish, you should get at least a rough estimate of their size before placing an order. Remember, the dish is to be weighed after frying or baking, and not before treatment when it is heavier. If a restaurant charges a mandatory service fee, it must clearly and legibly state this in a prominent place, such as in the menu.
  3. Complaint. If you want to complain about a meal, e.g. you ordered a pizza with ham and got it with mushrooms or the soup is cold, the fish is burnt and the waiter told you to wait for an hour and a half, report it to the staff as soon as possible, and preferably to the owner or manager if they are available there. As part of a complaint, you can, for example, demand a rebate or order a new meal. Remember, however, that this does not apply to your subjective experiences, i.e. you cannot make a complaint just because you did not like the dinner.
  4. Notification to the Trade Inspection Authority. A complaint about improper or unfair service may be made to the Provincial Branch of the Trade Inspection Authority. For example, if the price list stated that cod costs 10 PLN without indicating that it is a price per 100 g, and you paid PLN 35, send a photo of the price list along with a receipt. TIA takes complaints into account when planning inspections. If the restaurant rejected your complaint, you can also request the Authority to settle the dispute in amicable way.
  5. Notification to the IJHARS. Any complaint regarding improper market quality of the offered meals should be reported to the locally competent Provincial Agricultural and Food Quality Inspectorate (IJHARS) or the Chief Inspectorate of JHARS, since this inspection - as of 1st July 2020 - took over the TIA's competences in this respect.

During the Covid-19 epidemic make sure to disinfect your hands, cover your mouth and nose and keep your distance. Read the rules. Our common security is at stake.

A hotel, a motel, or a tent camping pitch?

The quality of a hotel, motel, guest house, campsite, tent camping pitch or agritourist farm must meet the requirements set out in the regulations. Stars may be awarded only to hotels, motels and guest houses (from one to five) and campsites and tent camping pitches (from one to four). Roman numerals from I to III mark the hostels (including youth hostels) and touring houses. The more stars or a higher numeral a given hotel facility holds, the higher its standard will be. Also agritourist farms must meet minimum standards for equipment and sanitary and fire protection. If you are going abroad, remember that in each country the requirements that hotels or guesthouses have to meet differ, so a 3-star hotel in a non-EU country may correspond to a 1-star hotel in Europe.

- We should be careful when booking and beware of so-called “virtual lodging”. Check the offer carefully, see how you can contact the owner, and also read reviews about this particular lodging facility on the Internet. You can often find there useful information that will tell us much more about the facility than the advertisement - says Tomasz Chróstny, the President of UOKiK. It is also a good idea to look for information on the websites run by Marshal Offices or municipalities in the tourism-related sections. If it turns out that the lodging does not exist and you have already paid the money, report it to the law enforcement authorities.

While booking your lodging, you should always read the offer carefully. Be careful, in most cases you cannot cancel your reservation free of charge. The Consumer Rights Act does not provide for the cancellation of a hotel room booked on-line within 14 days. However, the hotel may offer this option voluntarily - quite often this type of booking option is more expensive. If your room differs from the room you booked or the hotel is located, for example, further from the seaside than the hotel provider assured you, you have the right to lodge a complaint.

Whenever the contract provides for an advance payment or payment of a part of the agreed price, make sure that it is a down payment or a deposit. There is a fundamental difference between a deposit and a down payment. If, for example, it is the hotel that cancels your booking, the amount you will be refunded depends on whether you have paid the deposit (double refund) or down payment. If, however, it is you who cancel the service, after paying down payment - you may claim its refund, but if after paying deposit - the hotel owner is entitled to keep it.

Travelling with a travel agency

If you are planning a trip organised by a travel agency, check the tour operator, e.g. at: Please read the contract and its attachments carefully before signing it. If the tour operator fails to comply with the contract, e.g. you are accommodated at a lower category hotel or the air conditioning is not working, lodge a complaint. Report your objections as soon as possible - preferably still on site, this will make it easier to pursue your claims. The claims' period of prescription is three years.

The tour operator may raise the price three weeks before the departure at the latest. The operator is only allowed to do so in three cases: when transport becomes more expensive, e.g. in connection with increases in fuel prices, when taxes or charges on tourist services, e.g. airport charges, have increased, when the foreign exchange rates have increased and it has a direct impact on costs. The possibility of price increase must be provided for in the agreement, otherwise the organiser cannot change it. If the tour operator raises the price by more than 8 percent, you can cancel the contract at no cost.

Remember that pursuant to the Act on tourist events, the traveller may withdraw from the contract for a trip or holidays free of charge if unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occur that significantly affect the tourist event delivery or the transport of travellers to their destination. When estimating the risk of a destination country, the information provided by the Chief Sanitary Inspector, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the World Health Organization (WHO) is helpful.

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
e-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your town or district
Regional Consumer Centres: Phone: +48 22 299 60 90 –
Provincial Trade Inspection Authority Offices
European Consumer Centre - in cross-border cases

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files


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