Jetstar has been told to pay up to $1.95 million in penalties after The Federal Court found the carrier has made false & misleading representations online.
According to The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the court found that between April 2017 and March 2018, Jetstar had made false or misleading representations about the rights and remedies available to consumers under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
In other words, the airline misled consumers by making statements on its website that some fares were not refundable, and that consumers could only get a refund if they purchased a more expensive fare.
The Court also found that Jetstar’s terms and conditions breached the ACL by claiming that consumer guarantee rights under the ACL did not apply to Jetstar’s flight services and that Jetstar’s obligation to provide refunds or replacement flights was limited.
ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, welcomed the court’s decision in an online statement, saying it was a warning to all businesses that attempt to mislead consumers about their rights.
“Jetstar’s representations were false or misleading because all flights come with automatic consumer guarantees that cannot be excluded, restricted or modified, no matter how cheap the fare,” Sims explained.
“If a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, passengers may be entitled to a refund under the consumer guarantees. All consumers have the right to a remedy, such as a refund, if services are not supplied within a reasonable time.
“Businesses simply cannot make blanket ‘no refunds’ statements, because they can mislead consumers into thinking they can never get a refund under any circumstances.”
Rod Sims, ACCC Chairman
The ACCC instituted proceedings against Jetstar in December 2018 for breaches of the ACL. At that time, Jetstar admitted liability and the ACCC and Jetstar made joint submissions to the Federal Court that Jetstar should be ordered to pay a $1.95 million penalty and to make a contribution to the ACCC’s costs.
Jetstar also gave the ACCC a court-enforceable undertaking, committing to amend its policies and practices to ensure that they are consistent with the ACL.
In its undertaking, Jetstar has also committed to reviewing its compliance programs, websites and booking systems to address the ACCC’s concerns, and has already made a number of improvements to its websites and policies.
Jetstar has also undertaken to review consumer complaints concerning flight delays or cancellations during the period 10 April 2017 to 13 March 2018 and will offer refunds or other remedies to consumers that would have been entitled to those remedies.
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