‘Travel agents from hell – they take your cash, but don’t book your holiday.’ That’s the title of a segment of Channel Nine’s A Current Affair program screened last night. It made reference to calls for “a complete overhaul of the industry”.
The show opens with host Tracy Grimshaw saying: “And now, the travel agents who take your savings and leave you stranded.”
The segment, still viewable online, presents a snapshot of travel bookings in the current deregulated environment now that the Travel Compensation Fund no longer operates. It concentrates on a couple of notorious recent cases in which agents have gone bust and taken consumers’ money with them. It interviews families who saved for years for their holidays.
“The industry has little regulation and cases like this are happening right across Australia,” the show tells viewers.
Viewing figures indicate the segment was probably watched by about a million people. Whether they will trust their local travel agent as much as before, after watching it, is for viewers to decide.
Channel Nine has placed ‘Travel agents from hell’ online so it can be watched by thousands more viewers over coming weeks. The segment lasts a little over six minutes and can be viewed here: http://aca.ninemsn.com.au/article/8996418/holiday-scams
It’s well worth watching. Here’s a quick synopsis, run by Channel Nine as a teaser.
“There’s a price to pay for convenience.
They’re the rogue travel agents who are fleecing hard-working Australian families out of their holiday dreams.
“One suburban Melbourne travel agency owes creditors almost $500,000 – with local families making up the bulk of those owed.
Unfortunately, the industry has little regulation and cases like this are happening right across Australia.”
AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury makes an appearance, commenting on the recent crash of CTS Travel Services in Melbourne and saying that such cases are “particularly difficult for people to comprehend”. Westbury adds that ATAS is now making broader background searches on applicants to weed out previous bad offenders or potential bankrupts.
“This apparent lack of regulation has tempers flaring,” the program continues, as it speaks to two pensioners who lost all their money and their planned final trip back home to Italy.
The father of a typical working-class Aussie family explains how they paid in cash because they are on a budget and wished to avoid credit card fees. Their money is now gone, with no compensation.
Ace Travel in Colac, where a travel agent is still on the run and victims have lost their money, is also featured.
“If you’ve been the victim of a travel agent con, we would like to hear from you,” host Tracy Grimshaw tells her audience.
Written by Peter Needham