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Choice Makes Airline Super Complaint

December 7, 2016 Business News No Comments Email Email

CHOICE is calling for an overhaul of the way airlines deal with customers after 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 compensation for airlines’ mistakes.“From repeatedly informing travellers they do not have a right to a refund to charging sky-high cancellation fees, our domestic airlines have been flying below the radar when it comes to consumer protection,” says CHOICE Director of Campaigns, Communications and Content Matt Levey.

“Our investigation reveals the significant power imbalance between consumers and airlines, who are not being held to the same basic standards as other industries.

“Businesses across the country are banned from making blanket ‘no refund’ claims, but the airlines do so blatantly when selling tickets.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, you have a right to a refund no matter how many times an airline lands you with a no refund message as you make your way through an online checkout,” Mr Levey says.

The CHOICE report, Fare Play? Terms and conditions in Australia’s Airline Industry,  identifies systemic breaches of Australian Consumer Law by the domestic airlines. It also reveals that excessive cancellation fees, a lack of redress when flights are delayed and cancelled, and other unfair terms and conditions are the norm in the industry.

“The ACCC’s guidance to travel providers says cancellation fees should be reasonable and reflect the actual costs to the business, with fair deposits generally 10% of the total cost. When a consumer can’t or chooses not to travel they can loose up to 100% of the fare, even there is ample time to re-sell the seat.

“Particularly unfair are ‘no show’ clauses, that allow airlines to unilaterally cancel your tickets on multiple flights if you are unfortunate enough to miss a leg of your journey. These clauses have been banned in other countries such as Germany and Spain and it’s high time our domestic airlines put an end to the practice,” Mr Levey says.

CHOICE’s airline super complaint follows its Complane campaign, which has drawn attention to the fact that Australians are currently not entitled to fixed compensation when they experience a delay or cancellation within an airline’s control.

“Our research shows very few consumers receive compensation when their flights are cancelled, delayed or changed, and when they do, it’s often inconsistent. In some cases this leaves travellers paying hefty cancellation fees for flights, which through no fault of their own, are no longer fit for purpose,” says Mr Levey.

CHOICE is calling for:

  • The airlines to immediately remove  “no refund” signs from their online checkouts
  • The airlines to immediately remove “no show” clauses from their contracts
  • The ACCC to take action against any airline breaching Australian Consumer Law

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