ACCC issues advice on cancelled travel services, flights

The competition regulator says consumer rights "may be impacted" by govt restrictions

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) this week issued advice for consumers and businesses on the rights and obligations available to Australians if travel services, flights and events are cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The advice also provides guidelines if people decide to cancel their travel plans.

“If events, flights or other travel services such as cruises are cancelled, the ACCC expects refunds or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher will be offered in most circumstances,” the organisation said.

The competition watchdog said that however if cancellations result from government restrictions, then consumer rights under the consumer guarantees “may be impacted”.

In these circumstances consumers may be eligible to a refund under the terms and conditions of their ticket, or potentially via a claim under a travel insurance policy.

“Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly and compassionately,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We welcome the decisions by many businesses who are already offering refunds to all ticketholders, and expect other event and travel businesses to also offer remedies to all affected consumers when events or travel services are cancelled.”

The ACCC said if a consumer chooses not to attend an event that is still going ahead or travel domestically due to coronavirus concerns, this may be treated as a ‘change of mind’. The same applies to hotel room bookings. Consumers’ rights to refunds in these circumstances will depend on the terms and conditions and any cancellation policy adopted by the business.

“Consumers in all situations should contact businesses directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher,” Sims said. “Failure by any business to honour its cancellations or refunds policy may constitute misleading conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.”

Further details are here.

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