Australian airlines ordered to fix their refund policies

ACCC forces airlines to stop misleading consumers over their refund rights.

Airlines told to fix refund policies

Jetstar, Tigerair, Qantas and Virgin Australia have committed to ensuring their refund policies and practices comply with their consumer guarantee obligations under Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was concerned that each airline had made false or misleading representations on their websites that misled consumers about their rights to refunds and resupply in the event of significant flight delays or cancellations.

The ACCC has accepted court-enforceable undertakings from all four airlines, in which each has committed to reviewing their refund policies, compliance programs, websites and booking systems to address the ACCC’s concerns.

The airlines have already made improvements to their websites, policies and procedures to address the ACCC’s concerns.

Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia will also review consumer complaints made in a specified time period and offer refunds or other remedies to consumers who were entitled to these remedies originally but did not receive them.

Affected passengers will be contacted by these airlines and offered a remedy in accordance with their rights under the ACL.

All four airlines will also create ACL pages on their websites to provide a clear and concise statement of passengers’ consumer guarantee rights and the steps they can take to seek a remedy where the airline’s flights are significantly delayed or cancelled.

“Jetstar, Tigerair, Qantas and Virgin Australia have provided substantial undertakings to the ACCC and in doing so have committed to doing the right thing by their passengers in relation to refunds and other remedies under the consumer guarantees,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

Services such as flights come with automatic consumer guarantees, and these rights cannot be excluded, restricted or modified. 

“Airlines cannot make blanket statements that flights are non-refundable or charge consumers a fee to get a refund when they are entitled to one free of charge under the ACL,” Mr Sims said.

If a flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, passengers may be entitled to a refund under the consumer guarantees, which them a right to a remedy if services are not supplied within a reasonable time.

“Passengers will now be offered refunds or other remedies by these airlines when there has been a failure to supply the service within a reasonable time,” Mr Sims said. 

Jetstar
Jetstar has admitted that it made representations on its website that some fares were not refundable, and that consumers could only get a refund if they purchased a more expensive fare.

Jetstar has also admitted that its terms and conditions contained representations that consumer guarantees under the ACL did not apply to its flight services, and that Jetstar’s liability in providing remedies to consumers was very limited.

Jetstar will review consumer complaints made between 10 April 2017 to 13 March 2018 following a flight delay or cancellation and will offer refunds or other remedies to consumers who were entitled to these remedies.

Passengers should contact Jetstar via 13 15 38.

Jetstar’s undertaking can be accessed here: Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd

In addition to accepting a court-enforceable undertaking from the airline, the ACCC has also instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Jetstar to reflect the seriousness of its conduct.

Tigerair
Tigerair has acknowledged the ACCC’s concerns that it could have made representations to consumers that refunds would only be provided if consumers paid a ‘refund admin. fee’, and that consumers could only receive a credit that was only valid for six months as a remedy.

Passengers should contact Tigerair via 1300 174 266 or the Tigerair Customer Support Portal – https://tigerair.com.au/customer-support-portal

Tigerair’s undertaking can be accessed here: Tiger Airways Australia Pty Limited

Qantas
Qantas has acknowledged the ACCC’s concerns that it may have misled consumers into thinking that refunds were not available for its ‘Red e-deal’ fares, and that flights supplied by Qantas were not subject to any statutory guarantees, including those under ACL.

Qantas will review consumer complaints made between 18 April 2017 to 12 March 2018 following a flight delay or cancellation and will offer refunds to consumers who should have been entitled to one.

Passengers should contact Qantas via 13 13 13.

Qantas’ undertaking can be accessed here: Qantas Airways Limited

Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia has acknowledged the ACCC’s concerns that it could have made representations to consumers that refunds were not available at any time for its ‘Domestic Getaway’ and ‘International Short-Haul’ fares, and that consumers were limited to receiving a credit that was valid only for 12 months as a remedy. 

Virgin Australia will review certain consumer complaints made between 1 January 2017 to 31 March 2018 following a flight delay or cancellation and will offer refunds to consumers who should have been entitled to one.

Passengers should contact Virgin Australia via 13 67 89

Virgin Australia’s undertaking can be accessed here: Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd

Have you had a flight cancelled or delayed? Will you follow-up to see if you are due a refund?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    MICK
    18th Dec 2018
    11:15am
    What the ACCC did not consider was flights booked months in advance which had to be cancelled or errors during the booking process which needed to be fixed within one day of being made.
    The ACCC has not gone anywhere near far enough and this industry looks for ways to steal money from travellers. Fairness doe not exist. Only opportunistic behaviour and regulators who are aware of the problems turning a blind eye so that they do not have to fix the crooks from cannibalising their customers.
    BRING BACK ALAN FELS! There was a man who was not a puppet.


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