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Aussie travel complaints rocket up 500 per cent

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today compiled a report of the 109,466 complaints it received in the first ten months of 2020.

Australia's top consumer watchdog received a staggering 500 per cent increase in complaints about travel companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research shows.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today compiled a report of the 109,466 complaints it received in the first ten months of 2020.

Of those, 24,210 complaints were directly related to the conduct of travel companies – a 497 per cent increase compared to the year prior.

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The odds of catching coronavirus on a flight are slimmer than you might think.

Other industries that saw mass increases in complaints were sport and recreation (such as gyms), fuel retailing and insurance.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said the battles over whether the pandemic gave a customer a right to a refund were numerous.

"The economic disruption from COVID-19 has led to a huge volume of varied and complex consumer law issues," said Ms Court.

"Common misconduct we've received complaints about during the pandemic includes businesses misleading consumers about their right to a refund, or deducting cancellation fees from refunds when there is no contractual basis to do so."

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The economic impact of the pandemic has forced Flight Centre to temporarily stand down almost 4000 Australian workers since March.

According to the ACCC, when cancellations occur due to government restrictions, Australians are not automatically entitled to a refund as they would be in normal circumstances under Australian Consumer Law.

For most, it boiled down to the specific terms and conditions of their contract, be it for a holiday, concert or event.

"The ACCC has had to step in and help consumers and businesses understand the legal ramifications of cancelled services," Ms Court said.

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The complaints were so numerous the ACCC established a COVID-19 Taskforce to help resolve issues in a way that appeased both parties.

"We decided early on that the best way we could help consumers was to educate businesses about their legal obligations and resolve issues quickly and efficiently, rather than taking court action," Ms Court said.

"We announced some cases such as Flight Centre, Qantas and Etihad, where we worked with those businesses to improve their treatment of customers, but we've been doing a lot of other work behind the scenes with dozens of travel businesses to get refunds and other remedies for customers who had their holiday plans dashed.

"The ACCC is very conscious of the fact that many businesses have struggled to process cancellations and respond to consumer queries as they have reduced staff capacity and are struggling to stay afloat. We have taken these issues into account in our engagement,"

You can get up-to-date information from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Australia app, available on the App StoreGoogle Play and the Government's WhatsApp channel.

Beyond Blue's Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is a 24/7 service free of charge to all Australians. Visit the site here or call 1800512348

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Source: 9News

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