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Former travel agent left clients out of pocket

January 11, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A Queensland woman has been fined AUD 10,000 by the Townsville Magistrates Court and ordered to pay over AUD 24,000 compensation for taking money for travel and not making any bookings or issuing refunds.

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) brought charges for breaching the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Debra Lee Durrington, the owner of now defunct Travel Experience Charters Towers, was fined AUD 10,000 after pleading guilty on five counts of wrongly accepting payment for flights and accommodation she failed to book or provide refunds for. She was also ordered to pay AUD 24,011 in compensation to three affected consumers. A conviction was recorded.

The Court heard Durrington accepted payment from three affected consumers to book five holidays for themselves and their families including flights, accommodation, tours and car hire from November 2015 until July 2016, but her business ceased trading in August 2016. Durrington had failed to process the bookings of the three consumers before the business ceased trading, leaving consumers out of pocket and without their travel services booked.

The three families were left a total of AUD 24,011 out of pocket. One consumer lost AUD 16,890 on two family holidays which were never booked.

The affected consumers requested refunds, which Durrington assured them they would receive. The refunds never happened.

In sentencing, the Court noted Durrington continued to take the affected consumers money even though the holidays had never been booked.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said traders who accept payment with no intention of supplying goods do not have a place in the Queensland marketplace.

“The OFT welcomes today’s court decision and is pleased that the affected consumers will recover their money,” Bauer said.

“Consumers in Queensland have the right to expect they will get what they pay for.”

If consumers have paid for goods or services they have not received, they are encouraged to make a complaint to the OFT either online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Edited by Peter Needham

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