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Flight Centre refunds for cancelled flights

Flyinfish

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
179
Virgin
Gold
I don't understand why Aunt B is, or was, so popular? I have obviously missed something.
I have never booked with AB or FC EVER before! Always with the airline... I was just a bit impatient this time and fussy about the itinerary, AB was around $200 cheaper. If I'd been a bit more flexible and gone with Etihad as I usually do things would be better :( Blame it on SkyScanner!
 

muppet

Active Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2010
Messages
979
Thanks for all your helpful advice!
I too have flights with Etihad booked through Aunt Betty. Etihad recently cancelled the first leg, so it is a forced (involuntary) cancellation. After an hour on hold I managed to speak to an AB rep, who told me my flights were non-refundable, so a credit note was my only option. He also said I would have to book the same itinerary and travel in the same month in 2021(!) AND that AB would charge $55 for this privilege!
I checked Etihad's Conditions of Carriage. '
10.2 INVOLUNTARY REFUNDS
10.2.1 If we: (i) cancel a flight; (ii) fail to operate a flight reasonably according to schedule; (iii) fail to carry you on a flight for which you have a confirmed reservation and have met the Check-in Deadline and applicable boarding deadline and you have not been refused carriage for reasons permitted by these Conditions of Carriage; (iv) fail to stop at your destination or Stopover; or (v) cause you to miss a connecting flight on which you hold a confirmed reservation and adequate time existed to make the connection between the original scheduled time of arrival of your flight and the departure time of the connecting flight, the amount of the refund shall be, unless otherwise specified by appropriate law:
10.2.1.1 if no portion of the Ticket has been used, an amount equal to the fare paid (including taxes, fees, charges and exceptional circumstances surcharges paid);
10.2.1.2 if a portion of the Ticket has been used, not less than the difference between the fare paid (including taxes, fees, charges and exceptional circumstances surcharges paid) and the applicable fare calculated by us (including taxes, fees, charges and exceptional circumstances surcharges paid) for travel between the points for which the Ticket has been used.'
No mention of Fare Rules here.
Also, I have travel insurance for the trip, taken out before Covid-19 was a known event, no exclusions for pandemic, so I thought they would cover me if a refund was refused. But of course they have a clause that a voucher or 'remedy' invalidates my claim.
In addition to the ridiculous situation where people are being changed cancellation fees for flights that are forced cancellations, we have this very vague idea of 'voucher or remedy'. What, would a $10 voucher for McDonalds suffice???
How do you challenge the fairness of the remedy or voucher?
In my case I need to book before 30 September and travel before 31 July, except that I MUST travel in April!!! I must pay $55 to rebook (no alternative, can't bypass AB) AND pay the difference in fare!
I'm phoning the ACCC tomorrow and then my bank. What a rort!
You’re correct. Can’t see anyone offering any better advice. Although ACCC probably won’t help much - you already know your rights and the airline’s T&Cs.
Ask your credit card provider the best way to go. Take the refund and dispute the difference or just dispute the whole amount.
 

Traveller26

Newbie
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
3
Ive submitted a chargeback with my bank as I'm in this situation myself where Qantas have cancelled the flight and issued a full refund to Flight Centre but Flight Centre persist on deducting their $300 fee from the refund. (Its bad enough that the refund might take up to 12 weeks...)

Will let you all know how it goes!
Please keep us posted on how you go with this option. What did you put as the reason?
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
20,566
I don't understand why Aunt B is, or was, so popular? I have obviously missed something.
Well... Aunt Betty was really cheap! If you did a search via Skyscanner there was a while bunch of online TAs that came up - some with a pretty bad rep - like fly365 or whatever it was, and then right near them in terms of price was Aunt Betty.

The appeal of AB was that it was based in Australia, and was a subsidiary of Flight Centre. So it should be sort of ok.

I booked some ticket through them to Bali, they were $100 cheaper than booking direct with GA. Everything went smoothly, but the booking was short notice, so I was pretty confident there wasn't going to be any issue with flight changes or needing a refund.


I'm phoning the ACCC tomorrow and then my bank. What a rort!
If you speak to the ACCC, the line they are peddling is that under COVID a voucher is reasonable, and that the ACL doesn't apply (ie it isn't a 'major failure' because it is outside the airline's control).

The question that people aren't asking is this... further down their list the ACCC states 'unless the terms of your contract state otherwise'.

The question someone needs to ask ACCC explicitly is that if your airline contract says 'full refund', is that binding, or does the ACCC still side with the airlines that a voucher is ok? And if not, why doesn't the ACCC advise people to check their contracts before issuing blanket advice?
 
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equus

Active Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2008
Messages
902
I am afraid the ACCC is the wrong avenue here - they are about competition, not contract enforcement. About the only connection they will have with contractual terms is where they are unfair or in conflict with consumer law.

Credit card charge back may or may not work, and is the simple approach.

Failing that, simply lodge a case with xCAT for breach of contract and failure to deliver or refund.
 

Traveller26

Newbie
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
3
It doesn’t cost a lot to lodge a complaint to your state tribunal. The more people who complain about the UNFAIR and UNREASONABLE and MISINTERPRETATION on FCs part of the contract, the more it will help all the cases. It is a relatively simple process. I would encourage anyone who is being forced to lose $300 from the cancellation policy to lodge a complaint to be heard at the tribunal.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
20,566
It doesn’t cost a lot to lodge a complaint to your state tribunal. The more people who complain about the UNFAIR and UNREASONABLE and MISINTERPRETATION on FCs part of the contract, the more it will help all the cases. It is a relatively simple process. I would encourage anyone who is being forced to lose $300 from the cancellation policy to lodge a complaint to be heard at the tribunal.
There is also a free service provided by Consumer Affairs in many states. They're a great starting starting point!
 

Flyinfish

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
179
Virgin
Gold
There is also a free service provided by Consumer Affairs in many states. They're a great starting starting point!
Yes I just spoke to NSW Fair Trading. Very helpful, agreed with my points. Advised I lodge a complaint with them against Aunt Betty. Also advised attempting a chargeback.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2005
Messages
20,566
Yes I just spoke to NSW Fair Trading. Very helpful, agreed with my points. Advised I lodge a complaint with them against Aunt Betty. Also advised attempting a chargeback.
Thanks for this!

The points you raised being that FC charging a fee for an involuntary cancellation were unfair and potentially in breach?

That would be a really good starting point for others!
 

IrishPete

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
265
I have Etihad flights in two days, booked through BYOJet, which I gather is largely owned by Flight Centre. So no surprise that they have the same absurd cancellation and rebooking fees.

They've sent me lots of email messages, but won't accept email messages back and warn of hours on hold for their call centre. So I've decided to bypass them and have just lodged a disputed transaction with the credit card provider.

The credit card has travel insurance which might cover it, but it also has an excess, and the tickets were too cheap for a refund minus excess, or booking fees, or trying to rebook in post-Covid-world with an airline that no longer exists, or use a credit that will only pay for a fraction of the new cost of flights. no thanks. Let the bank and the travel agent fight it out.
 

hada88

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
31
I have Etihad flights in two days, booked through BYOJet, which I gather is largely owned by Flight Centre. So no surprise that they have the same absurd cancellation and rebooking fees.

They've sent me lots of email messages, but won't accept email messages back and warn of hours on hold for their call centre. So I've decided to bypass them and have just lodged a disputed transaction with the credit card provider.

The credit card has travel insurance which might cover it, but it also has an excess, and the tickets were too cheap for a refund minus excess, or booking fees, or trying to rebook in post-Covid-world with an airline that no longer exists, or use a credit that will only pay for a fraction of the new cost of flights. no thanks. Let the bank and the travel agent fight it out.
When lodging the charge back, what is the process and chances of success? Is it that you say that flight has been cancelled and you've been unable to get a refund etc? Trying to consider options for my Etihad flight booked through Aunty Betty which will invariably be cancelled in two and a half weeks..
 

IrishPete

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
265
ANZ have an online form which made it easy. I had to fudge a date, as it wont allow you to claim for goods/services in the future (and my flights are on Saturday!). There was a text box where I could explain further, but it didn't allow very many words...

I've no idea of the likely success rate, and in the current climate the agent may resist. If it was a normal situation they might just give in and give me the money back, but they may not feel able to do that for everyone.
 

Flyinfish

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
179
Virgin
Gold
Just contacted Commbank who advised that Visa instructions were that they wouldn't accept chargebacks for Covid related cancelled travel as it was a result of 'Australian government restrictions'. I can't see how Etihad cancelling my flights had anything to do with Australian government, UAE perhaps. Very annoyed, just passing the parcel.
My issue is not the cancellation fees... these should not apply at all unless YOU cancelled the flights. If the airline cancelled and did not provide the service, that's quite different and would usually result in a full refund even for unrefundable tickets.
I will pursue through NSW Fair Trading and my travel insurer.
 

Traveller26

Newbie
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
3
Just contacted Commbank who advised that Visa instructions were that they wouldn't accept chargebacks for Covid related cancelled travel as it was a result of 'Australian government restrictions'. I can't see how Etihad cancelling my flights had anything to do with Australian government, UAE perhaps. Very annoyed, just passing the parcel.
My issue is not the cancellation fees... these should not apply at all unless YOU cancelled the flights. If the airline cancelled and did not provide the service, that's quite different and would usually result in a full refund even for unrefundable tickets.
I will pursue through NSW Fair Trading and my travel insurer.
Thanks for the update. Didn't hurt to try. In NSW lodge a complaint with the Tribunal (NCAT). It costs $53 but the more people that submit and bring this to light, it may push the government to intervene. Also, their are airline governing bodies if you purchased direct, you might need to google if they aren't Australian based.
 

hada88

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
31
FYI: Slightly off topic but:

1. I must say it's great to have a group of people in similar (unfortunate) circumstances. I've spent the better part of 3 weeks trying to unwind 6 weeks of travelling / relocating to the other side of the world. It has been incredibly stressful at times, but its heartening to see I'm not the only one who is willing to put up a fight.

2. I'm a lawyer, and to be honest, FC / AB's interpretation of the rules are completely illogical and in bad faith. There is a basic tenant of contract law which is the contra proferentem rule. In short, an ambiguous term is construed against the person who drafted that term. In this instance, an ambiguous term about cancellations incurring costs, should be construed against FB/AB (ie to mean cancellations requested by the customer). That's one argument, but I'm not even going to attempt to put that to a customer "service" rep of AB...
 

Stingray2102

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
10
Please keep us posted on how you go with this option. What did you put as the reason?
Just called the bank (CBA) and told them that the airline cancelled the flight without an acceptable alternative, and so Flight Centre are now unable to provide me what i paid for, but are still trying to deduct their $300 fee for the privilege of a refund.

She agreed with me and submitted the claim, theyre probably taking it up with FC now, so we'll wait and see.

Surprisingly it was the first chargeback she'd dealt with against a travel agent so far during this whole saga. Im sure they will be getting a lot more chargeback requests now, especially thanks to AFF's article on FC yesterday!
 

Flyinfish

Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
179
Virgin
Gold
Got my chargeback request submitted on the second attempt. The rationale for refusing is that Australian businesses can't override Australian government directives or regulations. Not applicable as far as I can see. There was nothing to stop Etihad running their flights from the AU government.
 

Stingray2102

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
10
Got my chargeback request submitted on the second attempt. The rationale for refusing is that Australian businesses can't override Australian government directives or regulations. Not applicable as far as I can see. There was nothing to stop Etihad running their flights from the AU government.
Nothing to even stop Australian carriers from running their flights overseas (I'm sure there were still foreign nationals needing to travel back home to places like Hong kong, Singapore etc.), they have cancelled all the flights due to commercial reasons.
 

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