A fair trading body has revealed that it has failed to secure $200,000 worth of refunds for over 200 Australians, who booked flights or holidays through a travel agency on Facebook but never got seats on their respective flights.
WA’s Consumer Protection Commissioner Penny Lipscombe said in a statement on Friday (4 October) that her office had stepped in on behalf of around 100 people who had complained they had booked discounted flights on Facebook from Travel 2 Go or No Frills Travel but had “then not been able to get seats on a plane”.
“This escalated and Consumer Protection attended a public meeting of about 100 affected consumers in South Yunderup on 7 September 2019. We now have in excess of 210 complaints, with a total dollar value of more than $200,000. This includes some people who have bought cruises or package holidays,” Ms Lipscombe said.
“Our conciliation officers have been working hard to try to achieve a satisfactory outcome for the complainants in this case, but it is not always possible to secure refunds and there is no guarantee goods or services will be provided. Whether or not Consumer Protection is successful in conciliation depends on factors including a trader’s willingness to participate in the process and the financial situation — funds may not be available.”
According to the statement, Consumer Protection had received a commitment from Nicole Bromage and Jacklene Torr, who operated both Travel 2 Go and No Frills Travel under the ABN 38605142917, that affected customers would be reimbursed.
Yet the agency said “regrettably, this hasn’t happened”.
“As of today, we are in the process of contacting all of the Travel 2 Go/No Frills Travel complainants to inform them that no refunds are forthcoming, and to advise them of their option to go to the Magistrates Court to seek a court order for any money owed,” Ms Lipscombe said.
She urged affected customers not to pay any additional money in relation to their bookings, noting that the issue has been referred to the police.
“If a business has allegedly made false and misleading representations or failed to provide goods or services as promised and within the time frame specified, Consumer Protection can investigate potential breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL),” the commissioner said.
“So, even though attempts to seek redress for consumers may not work out, we have investigators who can then take over and look at alleged non-compliance with the ACL.
“While any such investigation is underway, we are restricted as to what we can say publicly for legal reasons. What I can confirm is that this particular situation has been raised with the WA Police Major Fraud Squad.”
According to the federal government’s Australian Business Register, the ABN used by the brands was cancelled, effective from 10 September 2019.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.