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Travel agency ‘issued hundreds of fake tickets and went bust’

January 22, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Calls are mounting for greater regulation of the travel industry, after a travel agency allegedly spent months issuing customers with fake plane tickets and itineraries – before going bust and leaving travellers stranded overseas.

Auckland firm Travel Globe went into liquidation this month owing an estimated NZD 180,000 to creditors, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The Auckland-based newspaper said it had seen a fake itinerary issued by the agency, which included details like special meals, a flight number and even a bassinet request.

A director of the travel company was a former bankrupt, the NZ Herald reported.

The revelations have sparked disquiet in New Zealand and calls for greater regulation of the travel industry, along with “a warning to travellers to use reputable companies and resist choosing an agent based solely on the cheapest online fares”, the NZ Herald said.

Travel Globe is the second Auckland travel company to fail recently. Another operation, named Travel Guru, collapsed towards the end of last year, owing more than NZD 300,000 – and liquidators found it had been using customer travel deposits to pay its debts.

Neither agency was a member of the Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ), the Kiwi equivalent of AFTA. TAANZ membership has a special benefit for travellers – it ensures customers are protected if their agent goes bust.

All TAANZ members subscribe to consumer protection arrangements, a bonding scheme that handles claims up to NZD 100,000 in the case of any one TAANZ member failing. It provides reassurance for customers, a bit like Australia’s Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) used to, in the era in which that operated.

Not all New Zealand agents belong to TAANZ, however, and if a non-member goes bust, its clients may be unprotected.

The NZ Herald quoted Travel Globe customers saying they had been forced to borrow money for emergency flights after the firm’s sudden liquidation.

Some clients apparently chose Travel Globe because it undercut other agents on price.

The report quoted the firm’s liquidator warning that in New Zealand “anyone can set up a travel agency” and “people just assume things will be done properly”.

The situation sounds similar to that in Australia.

Written by Peter Needham

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