Airlines, travel agents slapped with class action
Exclusive: Furious travellers left out-of-pocket due to disrupted holiday plans are being urged to take part in a class action to get their money back in full.
Law firm Slater and Gordon has revealed customers left dudded by major airlines, travel agents and tour companies should be entitled to cash refunds and not credits.
Many companies including Flight Centre, Qantas and Virgin Australia have been among the major players who have come under fire for their cancellation policies which has resulted in thousands of customers complaining about the trouble they've had to get their money back.
Slater and Gordon's practice group leader Andrew Paull has spoken with many holiday-makers and said they should come forward and join the firm's class action against their travel providers, particularly airlines including Qantas and Jetstar.
"We understand that everyone is doing it tough at present including the major airlines and travel companies but that doesn't give them an excuse to take advantage of their customers," he said.
"We believe cash refunds should be returned to customers who almost certainly need that money right now, rather in bank accounts gathering interest for airline shareholders."
A Qantas spokesman said they have extended the length of time credit vouchers can be used which is now up until the end of 2021 and were giving refunds to eligible travellers.
"We are automatically providing credit vouchers to customers who have had their flights cancelled but if customers would prefer a full cash refund we are providing it," the spokesman said.
Pensioners Brian Doyle, 76, and wife Carol, 68, from Narre Warren South in Melbourne had a 21-day tour booked to Spain, Portugal and Morocco through Inspiring Vacations and were due to depart on March 21.
They shelled out $10,400 but the couple were unable to travel due to bans on allowing Australians being able to go overseas.
They have pleaded with the company for a full refund after initially being offered just 20 per cent back or a credit valid until December 31, 2021.
"I'm 76 now, by the time the end of next year comes around I'll be 78 and my health possibly won't be in the best condition to enable me to just fly around the world," Mr Doyle said.
"It's out last hurrah to go overseas given our age, it's pure and simple we want a full refund."
They said they didn't want a credit because they were worried about the future viability of their travel company.
"Who's to say Inspiring Vacations won't be out the back door in months," Mr Doyle said.
But Inspiring Vacations' managing director Paul Ryan said the company was treating all "valued customers consistently and fairly in line with the ACCC's COVID-19 guidance."
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received more than 6000 reports relating to COVID-19 travel disruptions involving bookings made using third-party companies and airlines.
Chair Rod Sims won a fight with Flight Centre who finally bowed to pressure and removed hefty booking cancellation fees for those seeking full refunds.
Originally published as Airlines, travel agents slapped with class action