Revealed: The pitfalls of third-party purchases

Publication Date13 September 2021
Unfortunately, wherever there are rules, there are ways to bend them.

In recent years, there's been a huge rise in 'third party' firms.

These are businesses that don't actually offer the goods or services they are providing. If you've bought a holiday online in the last few years, you've probably used an 'online marketplace'.

So the firm you booked the hotel and flights with isn't the firm that provides the services.

This might not seem like a major problem - until you need to complain. I've spent the last year being deluged by complaints about travel traumas alone, with most about online travel marketplaces.

Voucher sites a success in

Many of these firms refused to refund cancelled holidays despite being threatened with fines and court action. Their argument is your contact isn't with them - it's with the hotel or airline.

I disagree - but this is a grey area. Businesses operating as a third party are often able to exploit gaps in the rules like this to avoid responsibility when things go wrong. Which brings us to vouchers… Voucher websites have been one of the biggest success stories of the last few years. They appeared seemingly from nowhere, and millions of people use them regularly. But their customer service often leaves a lot to be desired.

Last year nearly 14,000 people used Resolver to make a complaint about these websites.

Voucher websites offer a huge range of goods and services.

They work by offering big discounts on the things being sold on the site. The catch? You buy a voucher from the website, then use it to make your purchase from the retailer.

Everyone loves a bargain, so on face value this rather complex arrangement doesn't seem so bad.

The voucher website doesn't have all the overheads of a superstore and the retailer can reach a much wider range of shoppers.

The problem though, is when the goods turn up and they aren't what you wanted or expected.

One of the most common complaints I hear is about poorquality items...

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