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Flight Centre refunds for cancelled flights

jarman_ah

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Jul 12, 2008
Messages
47
Just wanting to bring this back considering AFTA management seems to be making really great calls as of late - whether it's the above, or that members of the press need a "firm uppercut or slap across the face". (Non paywall link: Travel boss lashes out at Tracy Grimshaw)

Even as someone who recognises that A Current Affair is not top tier journalism, you can't really argue against them presenting the facts in that particular story, being that customers were being charged for refunds, even in circumstances when the supplier had cancelled the service and/or had refunded the TA in full. (STA Travel insider speaks out about refund scandal)
Just for myself, I'd like to ask Mr Westbury how come his organisation has changed the meaning of the word "agent" so that, in the case of travel agents, they are allowed to take their cut from the customer as well as the supplier....but I fear he'd recommend a slap in the face for me, too, if I tried to point out that the Australian Federation of Travel Agents is, as far as its attitude to travellers is concerned, a bit of a disgrace, and we'd all be better off without it!
 

travel_bug

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Just for myself, I'd like to ask Mr Westbury how come his organisation has changed the meaning of the word "agent" so that, in the case of travel agents, they are allowed to take their cut from the customer as well as the supplier....but I fear he'd recommend a slap in the face for me, too, if I tried to point out that the Australian Federation of Travel Agents is, as far as its attitude to travellers is concerned, a bit of a disgrace, and we'd all be better off without it!
Perhaps Westbury should change his comment of "death by a thousand cuts" to that of a thousand slaps...
 

jarman_ah

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Perhaps Westbury should change his comment of "death by a thousand cuts" to that of a thousand slaps...
Everyone is calling for Westbury's removal, but, after its recent defence of Flight Centre's now-discredited policies, I feel it is the AFTA that needs to go. It stood very clearly and unequivocally on the side of the bad guys, and did not a thing which was in the interests of you or me, the customer. It defended Flight Centre's $300 per ticket cancellation fee (in addition to the airline's cancellation fee) as fair and reasonable. My advice from that minute on was for customers to avoid any travel agent that is a member of the AFTA, and instead seek out those who still operate on the "old" rules, that an agent takes its cut from the supplier, and keeps its hands out of the customers' pockets. The ACCC might do better to act against AFTA as an organisation and not just against one or two of its more-notorious members. I must say that it saddened me to see STA joining the ranks of the "agents" acting like Flight Centre; this company used to have higher standards than that, and I doubt if I would have ever been able to have my first overseas trip, decades ago, without their help and sage advice. Another day, another disillusionment.
 

jarman_ah

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Jul 12, 2008
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He should stand down, or be sacked. And quickly.
I think he just made a knee-jerk reaction because he knew the AFTA didn't have a leg to stand on. He's not the problem. The AFTA as a whole is the problem. Maybe someone who knows more about it than I can tell us just one good thing it does for the public? If you can't, then why should you patronise its members?
 
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He may not be the problem but he is a problem. Anybody who insights or threatens violence is a serious problem and hopefully he will be stood down very quickly.

I think he just made a knee-jerk reaction because he knew the AFTA didn't have a leg to stand on. He's not the problem. The AFTA as a whole is the problem. Maybe someone who knows more about it than I can tell us just one good thing it does for the public? If you can't, then why should you patronise its members?
 

jarman_ah

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I found this entry on AFTA's FAQ page: "A 'travel intermediary' is an entity, domiciled, registered or incorporated in Australia, who sells a travel product on behalf of a travel supplier. This includes, but is not limited to, a travel agent, Travel Management Company, aggregator, distributor, online travel agent, inbound tour operator, wholesaler and a consolidator."

So the federation deftly distances itself from the so-called "agents" who don't act like the other kinds of agents that we've been used to for a dozen generations. It might be wise, then, if the federation changed its name to AFTI, and that companies like Flight Centre made it very clear, on instore signage, that they are not actually travel agents, but "intermediaries", or "travel management companies" or "aggregators" or "distributors" or "wholesalers" or "consolidators". I didn't read on to find out what, exactly, is the difference between all these different kinds of travel "intermediaries", but I would imagine, in the long run, it all boils down to how much they can take from you, the customer, before you holler "uncle".
 

MEL_Traveller

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A travel intermediary is still a travel agent. Which includes FC, at least for the part of their business like selling you airfares.
 

jarman_ah

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Jul 12, 2008
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A travel intermediary is still a travel agent. Which includes FC, at least for the part of their business like selling you airfares.
As I understood the statement, the AFTA was actually saying it the other way around from what you wrote: while all travel agents are travel intermediaries, not all travel intermediaries are travel agents. Flight Centre is a travel intermediary... whether or not it is a travel agent is a point of dispute. I would say it isn't, as soon as it starts imposing shonky charges like its hefty cancellation fees on the customer... that ought to be the job of the supplier, and the supplier should be the body which Flight Centre gets its fee for service from.
 

MEL_Traveller

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As I understood the statement, the AFTA was actually saying it the other way around from what you wrote: while all travel agents are travel intermediaries, not all travel intermediaries are travel agents. Flight Centre is a travel intermediary... whether or not it is a travel agent is a point of dispute. I would say it isn't, as soon as it starts imposing shonky charges like its hefty cancellation fees on the customer... that ought to be the job of the supplier, and the supplier should be the body which Flight Centre gets its fee for service from.
In reality it doesn't matter what the company calls itself. The issue will be a legal one - ie, whether an agency agreement has been entered into between the principal and the agent. If FC calls themselves an intermediary, but they are in fact an agent, the latter applies.
 

jarman_ah

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In reality it doesn't matter what the company calls itself. The issue will be a legal one - ie, whether an agency agreement has been entered into between the principal and the agent. If FC calls themselves an intermediary, but they are in fact an agent, the latter applies.
I have no problem with that... but who is "the principal": the person/company hiring the agent to represent them or the persons availing themselves of the services? In Real Estate agencies, it's the person who owns the real estate, isn't it... the owner of the property? If you're a customer, you don't pay the agent an additional commission to buy or rent. If it's a theatrical agent, it's the person who walks into the office and says, "I want you to "sell" me to the producers, and I will pay you 15% of what I earn". The producers don't have to pay an extra commission for agreeing to "buy"! But I have said all this before, and my case is, whatever Flight Centre might call itself from that list of AFTA designations, if it calls itself an agent, it has no justification for taking its commission from both parties unless it can argue for a change in the definition of the word.
 

Pug1

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Hi everyone, I started this threat, which seems to have taken many different paths but that's OK. By way of update I have been credited with the full cost of our airfares via lodgement of a charge dispute through Amex. As mentioned earlier the funds were transferred into our bank account by American Express after they had processed the credits. I've just received a call from our TA at Flight Centre who advised that my wifes fare would be refunded in full with no FC or Qatar charges and I would get a call from their Brisbane refund people to process that. He said for some reason there was a Qatar cancellation charge on my fares being US$450, and he was querying that for us and would come back ASAP. He knows I disputed the charges and have been recredited the funds and he said their banking people would deal with that. Not sure how this will end up, either we advise Amex to recharge the amounts once we receive the refunds, or come to some arrangement with FC to offset. In either case we seem to be in a comfortable position. I have to say our TA has done the right thing by us in a difficult situation for FC. I provide this post to let people know the current situation with our refunds. Even with a successful outcome I think I would be very reluctant to deal with FC again and would prefer to book direct. Hopefully we'll soon be travelling again domestically as we have a Tassie tour booked with APT next Feb.
 

jarman_ah

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Jul 12, 2008
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Hi everyone, I started this threat, which seems to have taken many different paths but that's OK. By way of update I have been credited with the full cost of our airfares via lodgement of a charge dispute through Amex. As mentioned earlier the funds were transferred into our bank account by American Express after they had processed the credits. I've just received a call from our TA at Flight Centre who advised that my wifes fare would be refunded in full with no FC or Qatar charges and I would get a call from their Brisbane refund people to process that. He said for some reason there was a Qatar cancellation charge on my fares being US$450, and he was querying that for us and would come back ASAP. He knows I disputed the charges and have been recredited the funds and he said their banking people would deal with that. Not sure how this will end up, either we advise Amex to recharge the amounts once we receive the refunds, or come to some arrangement with FC to offset. In either case we seem to be in a comfortable position. I have to say our TA has done the right thing by us in a difficult situation for FC. I provide this post to let people know the current situation with our refunds. Even with a successful outcome I think I would be very reluctant to deal with FC again and would prefer to book direct. Hopefully we'll soon be travelling again domestically as we have a Tassie tour booked with APT next Feb.
Congratulations on what looks like will eventually be a very successful outcome. I expect that Qatar will cancel their penalty with a simple phone call. I am not surprised that, in this climate, your "TA person has done the right thin"g.... now that they are suddenly under scrutiny and are being threatened with legal action and bad publicity, suddenly they're as white as the driven snow. Good luck with the February trip!
 

Pug1

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Aug 28, 2014
Messages
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Congratulations on what looks like will eventually be a very successful outcome. I expect that Qatar will cancel their penalty with a simple phone call. I am not surprised that, in this climate, your "TA person has done the right thin"g.... now that they are suddenly under scrutiny and are being threatened with legal action and bad publicity, suddenly they're as white as the driven snow. Good luck with the February trip!
thank you. We are looking forward to the Tassie trip, which is a land tour combined with a coastal cruise on the Coral Discover with about 80 passengers, so should be Covid safe, hopefully. That's assuming the Tassie Premier lets us into our own country!
 

dimons

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May 3, 2013
Messages
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We have been talking to Aunt Betty about a refund for a trip to Paris with Finnair in August, where flights have been cancelled by the airline.

Initially AB agreed by email to a full refund without cancellation fees. A few hours later I received another email stating that $250 pp cancellation fee was payable, The justification appears to have reverted to that previously advanced by Flight Centre/AB before the ACCC got involved, i.e. 'our cancellation fee was notified to you at the time of booking'. Ignoring the issue of cancellations where the airline is the one who has cancelled.

While AB are offering a credit as a way of avoiding the cancellation fee, I think this is wrong. These are business class flights so there is quite a bit of cash at stake, which is perhaps why AB may be trying it on.

Thoughts? How to proceed from here?
 

Mattg

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We have been talking to Aunt Betty about a refund for a trip to Paris with Finnair in August, where flights have been cancelled by the airline.

Initially AB agreed by email to a full refund without cancellation fees. A few hours later I received another email stating that $250 pp cancellation fee was payable, The justification appears to have reverted to that previously advanced by Flight Centre/AB before the ACCC got involved, i.e. 'our cancellation fee was notified to you at the time of booking'. Ignoring the issue of cancellations where the airline is the one who has cancelled.

While AB are offering a credit as a way of avoiding the cancellation fee, I think this is wrong. These are business class flights so there is quite a bit of cash at stake, which is perhaps why AB may be trying it on.

Thoughts? How to proceed from here?
Wow. Well that's obviously wrong and this policy is exactly why the ACCC was going to take Flight Centre Travel Group to court.

Perhaps you could remind Aunt Betty of what they promised to the ACCC last month: Flight Centre to refund cancellation fees
 

jarman_ah

Junior Member
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Jul 12, 2008
Messages
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Wow. Well that's obviously wrong and this policy is exactly why the ACCC was going to take Flight Centre Travel Group to court.

Perhaps you could remind Aunt Betty of what they promised to the ACCC last month: Flight Centre to refund cancellation fees
Absolutely. Aunt Betty is just Flight Centre under another name (and with a $250 cancellation fee instead of Flight Centre's $300); when I had my dispute with Aunt Betty, the last call I got was from the head of Flight Centre... or, anyway, that's how she identified herself. Looks like now the fuss has gone down, they are gradually slipping back into their old ways and hoping they'll get away with it. Stand up to them and threaten them with the ACCC. They gave in, very chastened, a month or two ago!
 

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