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Virgin getting very HEAVY re completed credit card refunds. Sad to see.

jase05

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I’m not going to defend VA here as I think they could have gone about it in a different way.
 

Bell21

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I'm contemplating what to do on this very issue, as many probably are. VA has cancelled quite a few of my domestic and one international rewards J flight recently. I called VA yesterday (and actually got through quickly!) and they insist on the travel credits for domestic and cancellation fee for the J flight (I can't be bothered fighting the latter since losing 7800 VFF points isn't a big deal right now). Part of me wants to 'let it ride', as I want to support VA and I'm not sure of the impact of a chargeback (like OP has encountered) --- I could also go through the travel insurance route which might ? be a 'gentler' route --- however, it's $1,200 and I think bottom-line is a travel credit is just not 'going to cut it', especially who knows if / when we'll get to use it.
 

Rubix

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Fustrating times for all you guys. I understand. I have just received all my points back for 3 reward fares this morning. Taxes have come back to Amex OFOP overnight. A travel bank credit is still due for 2 other flights.

Yes, it was a few weeks of emails but it got there. If you love something, stay patient, be loyal and appreciate it. VA are very close to done unfortunately and I sure as hell do not want that.
 

serfty

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Assuming VA do go into administration/liquidation/broke/cease to exist, can a charge back for a fare paid with an credit card (AMEX) still be successful?
 
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Pushka

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Id heard Amex were good. And they are.

We had a booking a couple of years ago that was attached to a Velocity account. It was a fare that had full refund capacity. It was duly cancelled and after a month no sign of refund, so I did a chargeback. The amount was refunded but Virgin sent me the most offensive letter threatening me with cancellation of the membership.

Last month I booked a fare that was fully cancellable as I thought that the meeting might cancel. I didn't attach it to a Velocity account prior. Two days prior to the flight I had to cancel but their call centre was not working. I messaged on FB and emailed their urgent email address explaining in full I was unable to cancel on line (I had to call for some reason) their call centre hung up on me multiple times, and in the message I gave all details and said we did not want a voucher but refund as the fare permitted. Sent screenshots of all the above to American Express for a chargeback.

Three days after the flight I received - A voucher - but not just yet.! And a cheery message to go with it. As per Virgin style. I sent back an email stating that they had not followed instructions and I did not want a voucher (they explained that the voucher would take 30 days to create as it hadn't been attached to a membership). That was likewise loaded up to Amex.

Yesterday received a pleasant email stating that Virgin had refunded. I know it was American Express twisting their arm. And it's in the account.
 
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Gold Member

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I raised a chargeback on VA for $1500 a few days ago and haven’t received any threatening emails, yet. Not worried though, cos I’ve got a ”Do Not Knock” sticker on my front door :p

Better still, I might change my residential address and phone numbers in my profile and on the booking to Virgin’s address as after all they’re the ones owing me money.
 

Rubix

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Amex are damn good for travelling for work.

They have always sorted my problems without minimal fuss.
 

Dee#

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Yesterday at 4am Perth time (7 est) I rang Virgin to the platinum member desk and got through in 5 mins. Apparently they are closed in the wee small hours now! Cancelled my domestic points flights and 4 refundable full economy. Hopefully getting my cash refund in 5 to 7 days but less a penalty amount. They told me the ACCC was letting them hang on to it. The chargeback sounds like a better deal. At least hopefully I will have most of the cash soon. If not charge backback. Bought with Platinum visa so I think travel insured anyway.
 

bigbadbyrnes

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Is it correct that if you purchased a usual el cheapo fare class, even if the flight is cancelled you're not entitled to a refund and only a travel credit - therefore you could not enact a charge back?

I wouldn't buy a travel credit from VA right now for more than 20c on the dollar.
 
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This is definitely not just a VA issue. Airlines around the world are under pressure to preserve cash and are even looking at various jurisdictions to relax their rules as far as refunds are concerned.

Airlines seek relief from massive $US35 billion ticket refund liability - Airline Ratings


It is a bit chicken and egg in my mind. Demand fell off a cliff which is a direct result of the unforeseeable event and therefore meant the business had no choice but to cease operation, even though they in theory could put a plane in the air.

Such a unique set of circumstances and events - though it's worth noting Virgin Australia aren't the only airline providing only travel vouchers for non-refundable fares.
 

FlyingKangaroo

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But they haven't stopped flying domestically .

However, the reduction in domestic services occurred once various governments put restrictions on travel due to covid19. It was not just of their own business scheduling but travel restrictions had been imposed. Hence out of their control.
That's certainly the tack VA is taking, but legally there's actually a bit more nuance to it than that. Yes, government restrictions have led to a drop in demand and thus airlines making the commercial decision to reduce schedules. However, the government is not preventing airlines from operating. This is an important distinction when it comes to whether a passengers is entitled to a cash refund under Australian Consumer Law. If the government is preventing the airline from operating, no refund is due. If the airline is making a commercial not to operate, then claiming "government restrictions" as reason to deny the refund is less likely to fly. There's also some relevance here as to whether government's "guidance" and "advice" not to travel can really be called a "restriction" at all. (If you go to the airport and board a flight, will you actually be denied boarding because of "the law"? If no, is it even a restriction?)

It may seem semantical but when it comes to the law, those matter. Based on the history of consumer law legal cases and examples, I don't think VA would get away with their current argument. But things have changed and it's not 100% cut and dry here. There's an argument to be made, and VA has made it clear they're going to make it and hope that the uniqueness of the circumstances will render it more successful than it almost certainly would (not) have been two months ago.
 

glasszon

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That's certainly the tack VA is taking, but legally there's actually a bit more nuance to it than that. Yes, government restrictions have led to a drop in demand and thus airlines making the commercial decision to reduce schedules. However, the government is not preventing airlines from operating. This is an important distinction when it comes to whether a passengers is entitled to a cash refund under Australian Consumer Law. If the government is preventing the airline from operating, no refund is due. If the airline is making a commercial not to operate, then claiming "government restrictions" as reason to deny the refund is less likely to fly. There's also some relevance here as to whether government's "guidance" and "advice" not to travel can really be called a "restriction" at all. (If you go to the airport and board a flight, will you actually be denied boarding because of "the law"? If no, is it even a restriction?)

It may seem semantical but when it comes to the law, those matter. Based on the history of consumer law legal cases and examples, I don't think VA would get away with their current argument. But things have changed and it's not 100% cut and dry here. There's an argument to be made, and VA has made it clear they're going to make it and hope that the uniqueness of the circumstances will render it more successful than it almost certainly would (not) have been two months ago.
Very good analysis. Also, from a practical prospective, they know the harder it is to get a refund, the lower proportion of people will end up getting one, so it makes business sense to do it even if they end up losing the legal argument.
 

FlyingKangaroo

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Very good analysis. Also, from a practical prospective, they know the harder it is to get a refund, the lower proportion of people will end up getting one, so it makes business sense to do it even if they end up losing the legal argument.
For sure. Although technically, if challenged (likely in the form of a class action, and reading about the imminent slowdown in the legal industry, you can bet some bored litigation firms will happily be on an easy one like this), any customer who was forced into a voucher would have to be given the opportunity to "re-choose" for a refund, but that depends on: 1) VA still existing; 2) the customer taking that action; and 3) the customer not having already used a voucher.

Then again, I think it's safe to say this decision stemmed primarily from their current financial desperation, without the luxury of worrying about all the future consequences.
 
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That's certainly the tack VA is taking, but legally there's actually a bit more nuance to it than that. Yes, government restrictions have led to a drop in demand and thus airlines making the commercial decision to reduce schedules. However, the government is not preventing airlines from operating. This is an important distinction when it comes to whether a passengers is entitled to a cash refund under Australian Consumer Law. If the government is preventing the airline from operating, no refund is due. If the airline is making a commercial not to operate, then claiming "government restrictions" as reason to deny the refund is less likely to fly. There's also some relevance here as to whether government's "guidance" and "advice" not to travel can really be called a "restriction" at all. (If you go to the airport and board a flight, will you actually be denied boarding because of "the law"? If no, is it even a restriction?)

It may seem semantical but when it comes to the law, those matter. Based on the history of consumer law legal cases and examples, I don't think VA would get away with their current argument. But things have changed and it's not 100% cut and dry here. There's an argument to be made, and VA has made it clear they're going to make it and hope that the uniqueness of the circumstances will render it more successful than it almost certainly would (not) have been two months ago.
I used to share your view. But then read that EU authorities have decided this is an extraordinary event (although they are still saying full refunds are required).

The decision to stop flying may be a commercial one, but that has been forced upon them by governments closing borders, restricting anything but non-essential travel, and also companies being required to still follow OH&S laws - they need to make sure their staff are safe.

All those restrictions mean that they can't fill their planes due to government action.
 

FlyingKangaroo

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I used to share your view. But then read that EU authorities have decided this is an extraordinary event (although they are still saying full refunds are required).

The decision to stop flying may be a commercial one, but that has been forced upon them by governments closing borders, restricting anything but non-essential travel, and also companies being required to still follow OH&S laws - they need to make sure their staff are safe.

All those restrictions mean that they can't fill their planes due to government action.
I agree that the pendulum is swinging from "no way" to "perhaps" when it comes to "will airlines get away with this excuse?" Each of the issues you've raised is relevant, but until the ACCC and / or courts are willing to fundamentally redefine what has up to now been allowed to qualify as "government restrictions", I don't think we've swung the pendulum all the way to "yes" in Australia just yet.

Generally speaking, EU law is more protective of consumers than ours, so if they're ruling in favour of businesses in this case, it may be a sign of things to come here. However, several countries in the EU have outright banned airlines from flying, and because the entire EU has to work as one body, effectively the rules of the strictest member state have to be treated as applicable to all to be aligned and equitable. That's not the case in Australia. Even with hard border closures, no one is "stopping" airlines from flying when / if they want to. They just don't want to because their commercial environment has changed.

Granted it's changed in part due to government restrictions, but the government imposes all kinds of conditions / restrictions on businesses that impact their ability to operate and maximise commercial profitability, often even after industries are well-established. Think financial regulations, privacy and data protection, licensing, labour laws, etc. Those restrictions may fundamentally impact business. Certainly, the current developments in this industry are unprecedented in terms of sudden scope and timeline of implementation.

But in any case, if a consumer has paid for a service and the business can no longer deliver (or, as I would suggest in this case, chooses not to based on restrictions that make doing so unprofitable -- which is understandable), it still comes down to who can best absorb that loss, and I don't think there's a compelling enough argument yet in this case to say it ought to be VA pax. After all, it's not just businesses suffering at whiplash speed, and I don't see why some bloke who two months ago planned a trip to Disneyland and bought tickets on VA but now finds himself standing in line at Centre Link this week should be carrying the loss for VA.

Understandable to stop flying; not understandable to say the passenger has to eat the loss.
 

FlyingKangaroo

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Good points.

I feel much safer under a QF contract than a VA one though at this minute!
Me too! I'm as guilty as anyone of not reading the terms and conditions when I check the "I accept" box, but I'll tell you what: I've sure read them now. I suppose I just always took for granted that QF and VA would have substantively identical terms. How wrong was I?

It's incredible that QF contractually guarantees refunds back to form of payment even for cancellations outside their control, whereas VA is silent on all cancellations, period. That of course is where Consumer Law steps in, but that's just led VA to make this argument. Simple reality is, Qantas couldn't be doing what VA is doing even if they wanted to, thanks to their own contractual terms that they drafted.

Needless to say, I'll definitely be reading terms in future for large non-refundable purchases of any stripe.
 

Matt_01

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Assuming VA do go into administration/liquidation/broke/cease to exist, can a charge back for a fare paid with an credit card (AMEX) still be successful?
I have been in this situation but not with an airline. The service provider went into liquidation, as soon as I had the letter from the administrator the credit card provided a full refund on the non delivery of goods and services clause. Like others I am wondering what will happen to VA and if they did go broke the fight is a service that has not been provided. If you have changed you flights back to vouchers then you are just an unsecured creditor.
 

ozstamps

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Virgin have lost the plot, they are not even trying anymore.

The airline is unlikely to make it to next month, I too have tens of thousands of dollars tied up with them - no way to contact, no way to recoup, just a bunch of sloppily put together emails and false “gifts”.

They are not even honouring their own terms, there is no way (that I have seen) to enact a genuine refund, even if the terms allow.

Kudos to you OP for actually getting your money back, what did you say to the CC provider to make that happen?
What did I say?

"I purchased a service the supplier chose not to deliver." Which was 100% correct and honest.

Virgin cancelled my doemestic flights and did not bother to tell me. Or even offer a re-route. NADA. THEY cancelled them, not me.

Simple as that. I requested a full refund, and got it same day, and it shows on my statement. Virgin gleefully charge us all extra to use cards, and this is the downside - the cards stand behind cardholders at such times.

I have spent very many $$ millions on this card over 40 years, and am loyal, and card is always $1000s in CREDIT. Card companies look at your history. They might even wear it themselves internally, for valued cardholders - no idea, and no interest.

Virgin can Whistle Dixie about it, but too bad. I do not want an "IOU" from someone who might not be flying anywhere, going forward.

And if I do fly, I'll book tickets with a credit card as always. And be FULLY protected. :D

This naked cash grab threat to a 10 year Veocity Platinum member was VERY poorly handled, poorly worded, and shows to me they are scambling frantically for every last cent they can. Now they are restricting redemptions of Gift Cards etc - the beginning of the end I think, and only early April.

"If you have changed your flights back to vouchers, then you are just an unsecured creditor. "

Agree 100%. You'll get 1c back in the dollar etc. It is my hard earned money, and 100c in the dollar is what I have now. No brainer really.
 
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woodborer

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Restricting redemptions of Gift Cards etc - the beginning of the end I think and only early April.
Qantas are restricting redemptions as well. Protecting panic shoppers from themselves.

Coles have pretty much stopped selling Coles gift cards...
 

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