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Plea for consumer protection as zombie TCF site rises

January 11, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) is gone, dead and buried – yet the consumer media has just made a plea for its resurrection, and something very weird has happened to its website.

The TCF ceased accepting new consumer claims from 1 July 2015 and closed at the end of 2015.

The TCF is certainly not forgotten, however. The Fairfax travel supplement Traveller, which is carried by the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun Herald and the Melbourne Age, has called for its return. Traveller published an article in last weekend’s edition headed “The 10 things in travel that need fixing in 2018”.

One of the 10 things that need fixing this year is: LACK OF CONSUMER PROTECTION FOR TRAVELLERS.

To quote from the Fairfax article: “Since the demise of the Travel Compensation Fund, Australian travellers have no statutory right to compensation under Australian law if your travel agency, cruise operator or airline goes bust after you’ve booked and paid. Travel insurance policies offer none or, at best, limited recompense.”

Logo dislayed on website yesterday

The Traveller supplement is aware of the damage done to the reputation of the travel industry by collapses in 2017 such as that of Victoria-based Reed Holidays Pty Ltd, the company behind Seniors Coach Tours, Young at Heart Holidays and Australian Air Travel.

Reed Holidays Pty Ltd went down halfway through the year, leaving as many as 1200 elderly Australians out of pocket, some having lost the money they paid for the holiday of a lifetime. The firm was still taking payments days before it failed.

MEANWHILE, in an eerie echo of TCF days, the fund’s website is still operating – but in a new “zombie” guise, still branded as the Travel Compensation Fund.

Much of the information on the site is the same as in the TCF days, but there are odd advertising elements, like an article on “The Joy and Excitement of Hen Parties”.  The site seems to consist of a mishmash of content from former TCF times and new advertising content. Click on the “contact us” button and it takes you through to a page from NSW Fair Trading, dealing with the former TCF.

Another section of the site says:

Who can claim?

If you have dealt with an Australian Licensed Travel Agent which has:

a) ceased trading or collapsed, or

b) failed to pass on your money for travel arrangements to the travel service provider, ie the airline, accommodation provider, etc.

You can submit a claim to the Fund if you have suffered a financial loss because an Australian Travel Agent has failed to account for money you paid for travel arrangements and the loss is not covered by your travel insurance.

None of that is true any more, of course, so it’s highly misleading. The TCF site may live on in zombie form – but the protection that the TCF once provided for consumers has long gone.

Written by Peter Needham

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