The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued advice for consumers and businesses on their rights and obligations when events, flights or travel services are cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or if people wish to cancel their travel plans.
If events, flights or other travel services such as cruises are cancelled, the ACCC expects that a refund or some other remedy such as a credit note or voucher will be offered in most circumstances.
However, if the event, flight or travel service is cancelled due to government restrictions, consumer rights under the consumer guarantees may be affected.
In such situations, consumers may be entitled to a refund under the terms and conditions of their ticket, or potentially may make a claim under a travel insurance policy.
“Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly and compassionately,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.
“We welcome the decisions by many businesses that are already offering refunds to all ticketholders, and expect other event and travel businesses to also offer remedies to all affected consumers when events or travel services are cancelled.”
If a consumer chooses not to attend an event that is still going ahead or not travel domestically due to coronavirus concerns, this may be treated as a ‘change of mind’. The same applies to hotel room bookings.
Consumers’ rights to refunds in these circumstances will depend on the terms and conditions and any cancellation policy adopted by the business.
“Consumers in all situations should contact businesses directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher,” Mr Sims said.
“Failure by any business to honour its cancellations or refunds policy may constitute misleading conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.
“We also remind consumers that many small and medium businesses are trying to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak as best they can. We urge consumers to exercise patience and treat service staff with courtesy and respect as they fulfil consumer requests for refunds and remedies,” Mr Sims said.
Have you had to cancel travel plans because of the coronavirus pandemic? Are you hopeful of getting a full refund?
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