Warning On Travel Bookings

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.

A number of these businesses specialised in providing travel services to particular community groups and most of the agents were not members of an industry accreditation scheme.

“Travel bargains are readily available and consumers are looking for a good deal on their holiday,” Mr Stowe said.

NSW Fair Trading recommends when choosing a travel agent, travellers use a business accredited through the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (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.

“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,” Mr Stowe said.

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.

For more information about Fair Trading go to: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20.