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May 31, 2020 Susie Rutz

Travel Agents, Refunds & Cancellations- The FACTS

First of all, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of our valued clients; without you our business would not exist.

We know as a result of Covid-19 many of you have cancelled travel plans and are seeking refunds and/or credits. Rest assured that we have been working tirelessly to ensure each and every cancellation is handled correctly and sorted as quickly as possible.

We know there has been plenty of negative media relating to the travel industry of late and we don’t even want to give that kind of ill-informed “reporting” the light of day. Instead we prefer to simply share with you the facts about how we operate so you can better understand how our industry works.

 

 

 

 

Travel consultants act as agents. When you make a booking, in almost all circumstances, the funds are immediately transferred to the supplier and not held by us. When you cancel a booking the supplier, not the agent, determines whether you receive a credit or a refund depending on the terms and conditions of purchase. If a refund is applicable we, the agent, have to wait for that money to be paid back to us before we are in a position to pass the money on to the you and the time frame for this process is again is determined by the supplier, not the agent. If applicable, we will pass on the refund to you as soon as we have received the funds back from the supplier.

Many airlines, cruise lines, tour companies and hotels take up to 12 weeks to process refunds – in normal circumstances. In the current environment there are clearly significant delays on top of this. These delays are not the fault of the travel agent but are due to suppliers operating on skeleton staff whilst trying to deal with the whole worlds cancellations. For example, Emirates who normally process around 35,000 refunds a month but are now facing over 500,000 a month whilst Expedia Group handled a whopping 22 million requests over a ten-week period! And they are trying to do all this on reduced staff; it’s a never ending nightmare!

We must all continue to be patient. I know it’s difficult, especially if you really need the money right now, but please just take a step back and realise the sheer scale of this situation.

In regards to fees for cancellations, the ACCC has advised that if your travel is cancelled due to government restrictions, this changes your rights under the consumer guarantees. The terms and conditions of your contract will determine what cancellation/service fees may be applied. This may also include any ‘force majeure’ clause which may limit liability or detail what is to occur in such circumstances. If this is not stipulated, the pandemic may give rise to what is called a ‘frustrated contract’ at common law or under legislation in some States.

This allows ‘reasonable expenses’ to be deducted.

Travel agents, like everyone else, deserve to be paid for work they do especially in situations like this. This is not of our making (or yours, or the suppliers for that matter!) and we are working with considerably more complex and time consuming issues than normal. Travel agents receive their revenue from suppliers when they make the booking and the customer takes the travel, they do not receive revenue from suppliers for cancellations. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a very difficult set of circumstances for both travel agents and their customers. In some circumstances travel agents will charge a fee for the work being done to cancel or re-arrange bookings. It is both fair and reasonable that travel agents are paid for the work they undertake and in order to operate their business.

At East Ivanhoe Travel we aim to get you as much refund as possible but in some cases its not possible for a 100% refund and some costs are just unrecoverable. To be frank, all the cancellations and refunds we are processing means we are currently handing back our revenue for the last 10 months. As our profit is made when you make a booking, those proceeds are reconciled every week/month and is obviously used to run our business, wages, rent, insurances, bills etc. So in short, we are cancelling bookings for no revenue, and then processing refunds for no revenue, and then also rebooking the trips – again for no revenue.

It is rough.

However having happy clients is always our priority. We know our clients are loyal and we know they will be back to book once its safe to do so. Knowing we have such loyal clients is what is getting us through so please support us when and where you can. If you are not a client of East Ivanhoe Travel and you have a local INDEPENDENT travel agency near you then please book your travel with them. And that is ANY travel, whether that be domestic or international. If you don’t currently have a travel agency you know and trust, then please get in touch with myself or my staff when you are ready, we would love to be of help.

I truly hope, as I am sure we all do, this is over soon and we can all get back to doing what we love!

Susie Rutz
Director
East Ivanhoe Travel

 

 

 

 

 

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