Wedding cancellation fees: Hotels urged to be transparent

Wedding cancellation fees: Hotels urged to be transparent
Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case).

SINGAPORE - Singapore's consumer watchdog is urging hotels to be more transparent about cancellation charges for wedding packages instead of leaving it to the "management's discretion" in some cases.

Certain hotels, such as Carlton Hotel, charge as much as the entire price of a package if the cancellation comes within six months of the wedding date.

Others refuse to allow a package, which typically ranges from $1,000 to $1,700 for a table of 10, to be transferred to another couple. The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) believes such practices need to be changed.

That is why it sent a two-page letter to the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) in June, asking it to "encourage its members to have a fairer contract with regards to cancellation".

In it, Case pointed out that hotels are not legally required to allow the cancelling party to pass the package to another couple. It also noted that cancellation terms vary greatly between hotels.

The watchdog wants hotels to adopt more standardised contracts which clearly spell out when a refund will be given.

When contacted, SHA executive director Margaret Heng declined to say if the 132-hotel association would be heeding Case's plea. However, she explained that hotels already exercise flexibility on a case-by-case basis.

The issue, said Case's executive director Seah Seng Choon, is that this "flexibility" is usually not spelt out in the contracts.

"Consumers are disadvantaged from the start. It is important to make it clear in the contract that under certain circumstances, refunds will be given."

He added that couples who managed to get a replacement for the same date should not be charged as the hotel "would not be suffering any loss".

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