Australian Escapes, the Gold Coast company that offered discounted resort and travel packages to its members, before going into voluntary administration earlier this month, claimed on its website yesterday to be back in business.
The situation remains unclear. Accomcorp Pty Ltd, trading as Australian Escapes, ceased trading when it entered voluntary administration on 9 March 2016, reportedly leaving employees unpaid and having the potential to affect about 15,000 consumers. Accounting firm Ernst and Young was appointed external administrator.
Yesterday, however, the Australian Escapes website bore a notice saying: “We’re back in business!”
The notice said the “new business of Australian Escapes Holiday & Travel Club, now based in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane commenced trading on Tuesday 29 March 2016 and will honour all promotional (deposit) vouchers and existing memberships including Getaway Cash points and Free Flights Vouchers”.
The notice also stated that:
“Since the AccomCorp Pty Ltd closure we have been helping numerous customers to work out whether their holiday suppliers had been paid; to get credit card charge-backs and write letters of demand to the administrator, to minimise fall-out from these events.
“As a result, only a handful of customers are affected (direct deposits and BPays) along with some suppliers. Thank you to Groupon and Our Deal for their tremendous assistance.
“There are sufficient funds in the customer deposits bank (trust) account that is clearly customers’ money held on trust, and that would end all customer issues, but the AccomCorp administrators Ernst & Young are not providing refunds at this time. We are fighting that situation and we have every chance of success.”
Ernst and Young administrator Justin Walsh, however, was unable to confirm that information was correct.
“All the posts going on that website are being done without any approval from the administrator,” Walsh told the Gold Coast Bulletin online. He said he had met with creditors and investigations were ongoing, but he thought it unlikely that customers would receive their money back.
Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) confirmed earlier this month that Australian Escapes “closed suddenly” and appointed an external administrator on 9 March 2016.
AFTA issued an email the following morning (10 March 2016) advising that it had “cancelled Australian Escapes Marketing ATAS Accreditation effective immediately”.
Yesterday, TravelManagers’ chairman Barry Mayo referred to media publicity surrounding the Australian Escapes failure when he said the travel industry as a whole needed to be concerned with the declining consumer confidence in travel agents “that grows with each negative media report”.
“The real risk to the travel agent community is that more and more people will lose confidence in travel agents and may opt to book directly with suppliers both in Australia and overseas,” Mayo said. See: Travel agent reputation ‘diminishes with every agency collapse’
Written by Peter Needham