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26th March 1999

CARAVANS - RAW DEAL TO FAIR DEAL

Caravan owners heading for the coast this Easter could get more than they bargained for - better rights!

In a move to combat complaints about holiday caravan sites, a new Code of Practice has been brought in. The Code, which comes in just in time for the new holiday season starting next week, gives more and better rights to caravan owners and sets out what they are entitled to. Wesley Henderson of the General Consumer Council, said today: "For years, caravan owners here have got a pretty raw deal. Our own research has uncovered a catalogue of complaints and dissatisfaction. We hope this new Code will enable many caravan owners to get the sort of customer care that has, sadly, been lacking on many sites." The General Consumer Council has received complaints in the past about: · Big increases in site fees · Not being able to resell the caravan on site · Having to pay huge commission to site owners · No complaints mechanism - you either accept the situation or get off site The Code of Practice is being applied by members of the two main caravan trade associations (NCC and BHHPA). The Consumer Council says that, before signing up to any new agreement to stay on site, caravan owners should first check if their site operator is a member of a trade association. If so, they should ask for a copy of the Code and make sure that they only sign the official 'Licence Agreement' - which gives greater consumer protection. Other improvements which the new Code brings: · It has been vetted by the Office of Fair Trading to check that it is in line with all the relevant consumer legislation. · Buyers of new caravans now get to keep their caravan on site for least ten years. Previously, agreements only lasted for one year. · If the site fees go up by too much, caravan owners can have the matter investigated independently. · Caravan owners can now sell on-site to third parties. In the past, many owners found it almost impossible to sell the caravan where it stood. Wesley Henderson added: "Thanks to the persistence of the Consumer Council we now have a UK-wide code for the first time ever. After twenty years of campaigning, it looks like people here can at last enjoy the same level of consumer protection that has existed on Great Britain sites." --- ENDS --- Note to Editors The "Code of Practice for Selling and Siting Holiday Caravans" has been introduced by the two caravan trade associations - the National Caravan Council and the British Holiday and Home Parks Association. It was produced after consultation with the Office of Fair Trading and the General Consumer Council. It officially came into operation on 1 January 1999. Most caravan sites open their 1999 season at Easter. For further information contact Wesley Henderson at GCCNI on 01232 672488

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