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AFTA scheme protects agents against chargebacks

June 29, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) yesterday launched a new scheme to protect travel agents against chargebacks when suppliers collapse.

The AFTA Insolvency Chargeback Scheme (AICS) is available exclusively to ATAS accredited travel agencies. AFTA says it provides “solid industry-owned protection against consumer chargebacks when suppliers fail and the travel agent has passed the customers money onto the supplier”.

AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury said: “Today we start a new journey with the launch of AICS as we have finally found an appropriate vehicle to solve the missing link in the travel agency reform agenda, that is to have a cost effective way to protect travel agents against chargebacks when suppliers collapse.

“Since I came into this job nearly 10 years ago, this issue has frustrated and concerned travel agents and each time a supplier has collapsed the agent has been left holding the debt and the concern of covering the chargeback from the customer. Now AICS resolves this matter once and for all and it will come at next to no cost to the travel agent.”

Westbury added that he was “really proud” that AFTA had managed to negotiate a reform of the credit card surcharging arrangements “that enables travel agents to resolve this longstanding problem that dates back to the collapse of Ansett all those years ago.”http://eventscrm.ttgasia.com/ttg2017/itcma/buyer/itcma_buyer.asp?code=GlobalTravelMedia

AICS is a Mutual Beneficiary Fund owned by ATAS accredited entities and operated like an insurance product “but without the profit requirements and insurance policy complexities”. AICS is a separate entity from AFTA with an independent Board and Chair. The Board will have oversight and prudential responsibilities for AICS.

AICS will provide cover from 1 September 2017. In order for travel agents to be members of the new scheme and be protected from these chargebacks they will need to have merchant facilities provided by an approved AICS merchant service provider.

AICS merchant service providers will be contracted to collect the AICS contributions as a part of the surcharge rate that the merchant can pass onto the consumer. This will only be available to those merchant service providers who elect to become approved by AICS.

While travel agents will need to be ATAS accredited in order to be eligible to take part in the scheme, there will be few other requirements asked of them.

“As new and innovative merchant services become available to agents I am confident that not only will this scheme answer the questions on credit card chargeback, they will also provide agents with better access to affordable merchant facilities for their businesses,” Westbury said.

The first approved merchant service provider for AICS is TravelPay, which will provide its established payment solutions to travel agents who wish to benefit from the additional financial protections provided by AICS, AFTA said.

The AICS Scheme will be operated under contract by Gow-Gates. AICS will be owned by ATAS members, who will be receiving an information pack about the scheme in the coming month.

ATAS accredited travel agencies are invited to register their interest in the Scheme at www.afta.com.au/AICS .

Edited by Peter Needham

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