The China Consumers Association issued a notice on Wednesday about protecting the rights of elderly customers in cases of purchasing healthcare products, booking trips and making private investments. Elderly tourists, the notice said, are encouraged to refuse any extra "age-related" charges imposed by travel agencies and report any possible overcharging to tourism authorities. West China Metropolis Daily commented on Thursday:
The CCA notice came just four days before the traditional Chongyang Festival, or Double Ninth Festival, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, when people show respect to the elderly.
It is right to stress the need for senior citizens to defend their legal interests and say no to promotional scams.
Travel agencies providing "affordable" itineraries especially for the elderly should be blamed for the longevity of the so-called age-related charges, which are normally imposed on the elderly for the "special" services they receive. In many cases, there is nothing special or different about how the elderly are served, except that they are exempt from being pestered to buy local souvenirs, a popular trick used by travel agencies to make money from their otherwise unreasonably cheap trips.
The major money-making tactic of such "cost-effective" group tours is coercing the participants into buying things they do not want during the trip. But that does not always work with the elderly. So to recover some of their "losses", travel agencies often seek to charge elderly travelers extra fees in the name of offering them special services.
It is understandable that travel agencies want to make money. The cheap trips they promote, however, overstep the legal boundaries in the first place, and the overcharging of elderly customers is a blatant infringement of their legitimate consumer rights.
More must be done to get rid of the budget trips with too many strings attached while raising the awareness of the elderly about how to avoid such scams.