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One airline and one agent generated NSW complaints

May 2, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Two companies – one an airline and the other a travel agency group – generated 24 complaints to New South Wales Fair Trading in the month of March 2017. They were the only airline and the only agent mentioned in the complaints register.

NSW Fair Trading released its March Complaints Register on Friday, with a record 36 businesses all recording more than 10 complaints for the month.

The only airline mentioned in the monthly register was Qantas (13 complaints) and the only agent was Flight Centre (11 complaints). They are the biggest airline and the biggest travel agency in Australia. Fair Trading gives few details, though it does list the locations of the Flight Centre complaints: Blacktown, Caringbah, Epping, Goulburn, Merrylands, North Ryde, Pagewood, Raymond Terrace and Sydney. Brisbane got a mention, presumably because Flight Centre is based there.

The only other vaguely travel related company on the list is the online ticket reseller Viagogo, which generated a total of 27 complaints.

A recent CHOICE magazine probe into ticket reseller websites mentioned Viagogo after CHOICE found that in many cases tickets were being on-sold to shows that hadn’t even sold out.

“When CHOICE visited Viagogo to check out prices to Adele’s upcoming tour, we found listings for the ‘Cheapest in Sydney!’ at AUD 145. Far from it: these tickets were AUD 41 more than the cheapest tickets still available through the official outlet.”

CHOICE also noted: “It wasn’t easy for Coldplay fan Walter Jin to contact Viagogo for a refund, and judging by comments online he wasn’t alone. Located in Geneva, the company has no Australian presence, and the only contact method on their website is an email form. Jin says he sent messages which were never received, which Viagogo eventually blamed on ‘server problems’. After a frustrating effort contacting the company, he’s given up on seeing his money again.”

Back to the NSW Fair Trading complaints register, Harvey Norman topped the list with 43 complaints, more than double the average number of complaints per business recorded for March.

The Australian retailer has made consistent appearances on the Register since its launch in July 2016. This month, the company has amassed complaints from 25 of its stores across New South Wales, as well as its online website.

More than one third of businesses on this month’s register had complaints lodged about their online trading practices.

“Most businesses have their own digital trading presence, and more and more consumers are purchasing goods and services online,” said Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe.

“Consumers should always ensure they are aware of a trader’s policies before making a purchase, particularly what to  do if they experience problems with a transaction.”

Stowe said the Register illustrated the Government’s commitment to open data and noted the recent Productivity Commission report that recommended the NSW Complaints Register model be rolled out nationally.

Written by Peter Needham

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