Thousands of customers will receive extra money after the consumer watchdog examined refunds given by APT.
Australian Pacific Touring Pty Ltd came to the attention of the ACCC during the pandemic for seemingly deducting more than it was entitled to under its terms and conditions.
“The costs that APT deducted for marketing and overheads amounted to 15 per cent of the booking price and, with many holidays costing over $20,000, this meant a significant amount was withheld from the refunds given to consumers,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“The ACCC considered that APT was not entitled to deduct these marketing and overhead costs as they were incurred before the booking was made and they would have been incurred regardless of whether a booking was made.”
Managing Director of Australian Pacific Holdings, Chris Hall said “The APT Travel Group understands the ACCC has a different interpretation of our terms and conditions in relation to refunds, however, we have reached a mutually agreed position.
Chris Hall said “The APT Travel Group has made constructive steps of its own volition to provide greater scope and clarity around the issue of refund processing,”
“Throughout this entire period we have also been considering, on a case-by-case basis, providing a full refund to any consumers who can provide evidence that they are experiencing hardship, including medical or financial, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“During this time, we have been working closely with guests who have been affected by national and global travel suspensions to find the best possible outcome for them.
“For some guests affected by imposed suspensions, this means that the refund amount initially advised, paid, or available to them will be increased.
The adjustment relates to a reduction in the fixed marketing and overhead charges. These charges have now been replaced by a one-off $400 per passenger administration fee. Charges for third-party costs that have been incurred will still be deducted from refunds.
The APT MD said “as has been the case since April 2020, as an alternative to the refund option, we are offering a Future Holiday Credit of 100% of the value of what was paid, with the Group absorbing all incurred costs.
“The 100% Future Holiday Credit is valid until the end of 2023, available for use on any of our brands, to any destination globally, and is fully transferable to a family member or a friend.”
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said that the ACCC is pleased that thousands of customers will now receive additional refunds and that this commitment will provide faster redress for consumers than court action.
“The ACCC’s position on refunds for cancelled travel has been very clear for almost a year now, travel businesses cannot deduct fees unless there are applicable terms and conditions in their contract that expressly permit them to do so.”
APT said in a statement that the company appreciates the support and patience of all its guests.
In turn, the company is committed to getting through this period and supporting its guests, staff, global networks, and also the Australian travel industry.
APT is working through contacting impacted guests and will be in communication with them by the 31st March 2021.
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