A Gold Coast company that offered discounted resort and travel packages to its members has gone into voluntary administration and ceased trading, reportedly leaving employees unpaid and having the potential to affect about 15,000 consumers.
The failure of Accomcorp Pty Ltd trading as Australian Escapes could potentially affect more than 15,000 people, including some currently travelling overseas, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Some consumers may have been left out of pocket and without bookings for trips they believed were confirmed, the paper said. Australian Escapes reportedly operated on a membership basis, with members paying an annual fee to access discounted travel and accommodation.
A notice posted on the Australian Escapes website on Friday said that a “new Holiday & Travel Club enterprise” was expected to commence trading from 29 March 2016 that would honour all promotional (deposit) vouchers and existing memberships. “I have been assisting as many people as possible to get their money returned and I have just a handful of serious issues left to resolve,” the notice said.
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.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) issued an email the following morning (10 March 2016) advising that it had “cancelled Australian Escapes Marketing ATAS Accreditation effective immediately.
“AFTA is currently investigating the matter but believes that there is a managed process in place for the business’ voluntary closure,” the statement said.
“AFTA understands that effected consumers will be attended to and are invited to contact John Greenbury on 07 3202 9137.”
Australian Escapes’ website boasted to consumers: “Save up to 40% off OTA and bricks & mortar travel agents’ prices for international travel including Zuji, Travelonline, Expedia, Flight Centre, STA and Helloworld”.
Queensland OFT advised consumers on 14 March 2016 “that Gold Coast online travel company Accomcorp Pty Ltd trading as Australian Escapes is currently in voluntary administration.
Queensland OFT continued: “According to the company’s website, Australian Escapes offered heavily discounted resort and travel packages to over 300 resorts, hotels and holiday parks around Australia and popular destinations such as Thailand, Vanuatu, Fiji and Bali.
“The OFT has learned the company closed suddenly, with Ernst and Young appointed as external administrator on Wednesday 9 March.”
OFT executive director Brian Bauer urged customers who had made travel arrangements through Australian Escapes to verify their bookings directly with any travel and accommodation providers prior to commencing their travel.
“Each year, most of us look forward to well-earned holidays and they can represent a significant financial outlay. But, unfortunately, problems can occur,” Bauer said.
“Often when this type of business goes into administration, customers can find their deposits haven’t been processed through to the travel and accommodation providers, leaving them out of pocket and the holiday experience ruined.
“Consumers who paid by credit card and who have established their payment has not been received by the travel and accommodation provider should contact their bank as soon as possible to see if the charges can be reversed.”
OFT said: “If consumers have had dealings with Accomcorp Pty Ltd or Australian Escapes, they should contact Ernst and Young directly on 07 3011 3124 or at [email protected] and provide their details.”
The Gold Coast Bulletin quoted Ernst and Young administrator Justin Walsh saying the company was “unfortunately not in a position to pay wages”.
“It has insufficient funds,’’ Walsh said.
In an update posted on the Australian Escapes website on Friday, somebody named John Greenbury posted the following statement:
Friday 18/03/2016 Update
AccomCorp Pty Ltd (previously) trading as Australian Escapes went into voluntary administration as of Wednesday 9 March 2016 and has ceased trading. I am not involved in the administration and I was not a director of the company.
My purpose is to inform you of what is happening so you can make alternative arrangements as required for your holidays for the time being. A new Holiday & Travel Club enterprise is expected to commence trading from 29/03/2016 that will honour all promotional (deposit) vouchers and existing memberships including Getaway Cash points and Free Flights Vouchers.
There is no need to pay any money for membership renewal. You don’t have to do anything, your membership will carry over along with all benefits and will be extended for two years at no charge. Updated membership details will be sent to you by end April.
IMPORTANT: If you have an existing, upcoming reservation, please do not pay any further money into the company bank account as that money will not be used towards your booking.
I have been assisting as many people as possible to get their money returned and I have just a handful of serious issues left to resolve.
If you have paid a deposit or full payment for a booking not yet taken and I have not already spoken to you, please contact me urgently. Check your email for correspondence if any.
I may be emailed via the Contact Us page.
Written by Peter Needham