How long can Government continue to ignore consumer losses?
Another travel agency closure has been reported in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and on Radio Station 2GB, just 18 days following the consumer coverage of Australian Escapes closure and subsequent re-trading as Australian Escapes Holiday and Travel Club. It has been reported that New South Wales based Baulkham Hills Travel, failed to open after Easter and is now being investigated for fraud.
TravelManagers’ Chairman Barry Mayo knows the detrimental effect each and every negative media report has on Australian’s travelling public.
“Consumer confidence in the integrity of the travel industry will be diminishing with the ongoing negative media coverage. The real worry is that consumers are not reading stories about the immense value travel agents provide their clients in co-creating the most incredible personalized holiday or travel experience, yet continue to consistently read stories about travel agency closures and resultant consumer losses.”
A spokesperson from NSW Fair Trading has reportedly advised clients ‘who have not received goods and services paid for by credit card, may choose to contact their financial institution to dispute the payment and inquire about a chargeback. Mayo notes that there is no guarantee of a refund for customers who paid by credit card as any chargeback would be subject to that customer’s financial institution’s terms and conditions.
“As having been previously reported that an average of a third of purchases through travel agents are paid by credit card and chargeback’s are not generally applicable to the majority of customers, this will provide little comfort to those customers out of pocket.”
The NSW Fair Trading also has been reported commenting on the automatic protections under The Australian Consumer Law.
“Unfortunately, unlike whitegoods and other physical products the automatic protections under the Australian Consumer Law do not generally apply when there is no actual delivery of product and are therefore unlikely to assist with recovery of losses when an agency is liquidated,” says Mayo.
Mayo, knows this ninth reported travel agency closure since May 2015, will not be the last.
“Stories of agency collapses and consumer losses will continue to appear as long as the industry cannot offer some form of universal consumer protection as was previously afforded consumers under the Travel Compensation Fund. The industry should be extremely worried about the cumulative and long term detrimental affect these types of negative media reports will have on their future business.”
Mayo asks a simple question.
“Is it appropriate for the government to continue ignoring the plight of impacted consumers considering the damage this negative publicity is doing to the travel agent industry? It cannot be argued, this is an important element of the country’s tourism infrastructure and as such should be given top priority.
TravelManagers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.5 billion for 2015. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 490 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are only used for client purchases.