Many travellers who have been left thousands of dollars out of pocket are still fighting to get their money back, writes Sophie Elsworth.
Many travellers who have been left thousands of dollars out of pocket are still fighting to get their money back, writes Sophie Elsworth.

'The biggest problems travellers face in getting refunds'

OPINION

UPSET travellers who have been left thousands of dollars out of pocket flooded my email inbox last week to reveal how they are scrambling to get their money back.

While I couldn't respond to every email - there were just too many - it was upsetting to hear how so many people had paid for holidays they can't take through no fault of their own.

They've been left fighting to get their money back for a service they won't get.

A common gripe was unsurprisingly with besieged travel company Flight Centre, with many left waiting months to get any money back.

Others were tangled up in a web of who held what money - was it the company who took their booking? Or was it the company whose services they were using - the airline, hotel or tour company?

Flight Centre has overhauled the charges it hit customers with which included dumping a refund cancellation fee of $300 per customer.
Flight Centre has overhauled the charges it hit customers with which included dumping a refund cancellation fee of $300 per customer.

Then others named and shamed a whole host of travel brands that had not budged on handing back money and instead insisted on giving customers credits.

Among the influx of emails included many from older Australians who had been unable to get their money back and instead were given useless travel credits. They are useless because this large cohort of travellers worry they are too old to travel ever again.

Heart-wrenching stuff.

And the amounts left out of pocket were tens of thousands of dollars.

I also got attacked from travel agents, saying they were doing their best and they, too, were bleeding; their commissions all but dried up in the past few months.

There's no doubt the travel industry will be tarnished for a long time about how they've handled their refund or credit process with customers.

And the former head of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, Jayson Westbury, certainly didn't help the cause of agents when he said A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw "needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face" for the show's reporting on the travel woes of jetsetters.

He did a trainwreck interview with ACA before resigning hours later.

From all of this, jetsetters will be gun-shy in the future.

Many will be left wounded by being given credits they may never use while others will have got refunds after shelling out ridiculous fees to get anything back.

I even had this ridiculous situation myself after ringing Virgin Australia last week to see how my refund request on $1500 flights was progressing.

After initially calling them on April 17 - before they went into voluntary administration - they told me last week my flight was "still active" and if I didn't turn up to the flight that I can't take because of COVID-19 restrictions, I would lose my money.

How absurd.

I plan to never fly with this airline ever again.

sophie.elsworth@news.com.au

@sophieelsworth

Originally published as The biggest problems travellers face in getting refunds



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