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CHOICE lands victory with ACCC after launching super complaint against airlines

December 21, 2017 Business News No Comments Email Email

CHOICE has welcomed today’s release of the ACCC’s airlines terms and conditions report, saying Australia’s airline industry is under greater scruitiny than ever before.“From charging skyhigh cancellation fees to denying consumers their legal right to compensation when something goes wrong, our domestic airlines have been flying below the radar when it comes to consumer protection,” says CHOICE Head of Campaigns and Policy, Sarah Agar.

In 2016, CHOICE called for an overhaul of the way airlines deal with customers in its airline super complaint. An extensive investigation into the industry revealed systemic breaches of the Australian Consumer Law, including widespread use of “no refund” signs, excessive cancellation fees and a lack of traveller compensation for airlines’ mistakes.

The ACCC’s report highlights three key problems for consumers buying flights:

  • ‘No refund’ statements – these may lead people to believe they are not entitled to a refund under any circumstance but people buying flights do have rights under the consumer law.
  • Excessive cancellation or change fees – where the size of the fee imposed by the airline to cancel or change a flight is disproportionate to the cost of the original fare, or is unrelated to costs, imposing such a fee may breach the law.
  • Consumer guarantee rights – the consumer guarantees ensure that when Australians buy services, including flights, they get what they pay for. Airlines need to comply with the consumer guarantees, and provide refunds where the guarantees are not met.

“We are pleased to hear the ACCC has put Australia’s airlines on notice – ‘no refund’ statements and excessive cancellation and change fees will not be tolerated,” says Ms Agar.

“The regulator’s bid to potentially step in and take action on individual cases is great news for any frustrated traveller who’s been treated poorly by their airline.

“It’s a good reminder to consumers of their rights – and airlines should realise that they need to change their practices.”

The latest research by CHOICE shows that 63% of flight problems experienced were delays and cancellations. The research also found that 62% said no action was taken by the airline when they experienced a delay.[1]

“Whether it’s a missed business meeting, family dinner or even a wedding, Aussie travellers shouldn’t have to pay for the airline’s mistakes,” says Ms Agar.

“What’s worse, very few consumers receive compensation when their flights are cancelled, delayed or changed. When they do, it’s often inconsistent, and sometimes leaves them paying paying hefty cancellation fees for flights that they can no longer catch.”

“We would expect to see swift enforcement action for any airlines who continue to ignore consumers’ rights under the Australian Consumer Law, after being given this warning by the ACCC”.

To see CHOICE’s campaign on flights, go to: https://campaigns.choice.com.au/choice-airline-campaign/

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