Following the recent collapse of travel agent businesses in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, the NSW Fair Trading Commissioner has issued cautionary advice to consumers making travel arrangements.
In these instances consumers who paid cash for travel services lost their money “when the agent failed to pass funds on to suppliers or cancelled booked travel arrangements and kept the refunds”, Fair Trading advised.
“A number of these businesses specialised in providing travel services to particular community groups and none of the agents were members of an industry accreditation scheme,” NSW Commissioner for Fair Trading Rod Stowe said.
It has been widely reported, however, that two agents which collapsed a couple of months ago (CTS Travel Services and Travel Rockhampton) were accredited under the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (ATAS) scheme. NSW Fair Trading made no mention of that.
“Travel bargains are readily available and consumers are looking for a good deal on their holiday,” Stowe continued.
NSW Fair Trading reiterated that it recommended when choosing a travel agent, travellers use a business accredited through the ATAS accreditation scheme.
“ATAS members are bound by a Charter and Code of Conduct and required to abide by standards of industry practice including having formal complaint handling processes. Some agents also offer insurance to cover the collapse of carriers and travel agents in their group,” a NSW Fair Trading statement said.
“When it comes to payment, remember that if you pay by credit card and services are not provided, you have the ability to seek a charge back from your financial institution,” Stowe stressed.
Other tips for travel consumers from NSW Fair Trading:
- Carefully read the terms and conditions on special promotions, discounted fares and membership offers and check if a cancellation fee for transport and accommodation applies if you are unable to travel.
- Make sure you know what you are paying for so you don’t encounter problems that will spoil your holiday.
- If you are buying from online sellers, make sure their contact details are on the website and they provide a clear process for resolving problems, for replacements and refunds.
Edited by Peter Needham