A western Sydney travel company has been placed into administration, with creditors left wondering what’s going on after the firm’s website went offline and its Facebook page was taken down. Phones are no longer answered.
AUD 3 million of customers’ money may be involved.
Value World Travel of Parramatta dealt largely with travel to India, according to copies of its former website, but also sold travel to other destinations such as Los Angeles. A story on the collapse has run in the Sydney Daily Telegraph today and clients of the Parramatta company have been turning up at airports to find their tickets cancelled.
Latest reports say the company has been placed in administration under an external administrator.
While the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) used to give full information about such matters, issuing regular bulletins, that ceased with the TCF’s demise. Consumers, media and agents are much more in the dark about such things now the TCF has gone.
Discussion about Value World Travel is being conducted by worried clients on online forums – which are filled with comments by people who say they have lost money. A Facebook page called Victims of Value World Travel has been set up, where those who claim to have lost money can discuss their plight: https://www.facebook.com/VictimsOfVWT/?fref=nf
Reports say about 200 people have been denied boarding at Sydney Airport. News Limited this morning is saying that an estimated AUD 3 million of customers’ money has been “paid for non-existent airline tickets”. A cardiologist based in the Sydney suburb of Baulkham Hills is said to have lost seven plane tickets worth around AUD 8000.
New Limited is also reporting that two former directors of Value World Travel were banned from managing companies by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) in January this year over the collapse of two green slip insurance businesses.
Reviews on TripAdvisor, dating from 2013, give a bit of background on the company and some comments are scathing.
The latest scandal surrounding a travel agency, involving clients losing their money, is likely to rebound on the reputation of travel agents. This can be gauged by some of the comments by readers of the story run in the online Daily Telegraph.
“What’s all this legal theft?? No one to help in this matter?? Shocking system in this developed country.” That was one comment.
Another reader wrote: “In this entire event one thing is for sure….i will never buy tickets from any travel agents….”
And another: “The government should make it compulsory with these type of business’s, that hold public money to carry some sort of insurance to cover it before they are registered.”
There was something like that. It was called the Travel Compensation Fund.
Value World Travel’s website carried the banner headlines: “CHEAPEST AIRFARES”, “NO FEES on credit card or booking” and “Buy tickets departing from anywhere in the world…”
The site also invited clients to sign up for a newsletter, promising that “Value World Travel is committed to protect your privacy.”
Just recently, the site was proclaiming: “We specialize in helping you organize travel for domestic and international travel. If you are looking for cheap flights within the country or cheap international flights, we can help you get the best deal at a time that best suits your needs. You can search for the best flight deals on our website to find the cheapest air tickets to fly to India or any other worldwide destination.
“In addition to cheap fight tickets, you can plan your entire holiday on our website. View deals for hotels in our database of more than 120,000 hotels in cities around the world. You can search for deals, compare amenities and rates, and make a hotel reservation directly through our website. We help you get fantastic value for your money for your hotel accommodation or complete holiday packages.”
Written by Peter Needham