Touring companies commit to higher refunds for COVID cancellations

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Thousands of Australians will receive additional refund amounts for cancelled travel after APT and Travelmarvel (part of the APT Group) agreed to stop deducting marketing and overhead costs from refunds and reimburse customers who had previously had these costs deducted from their refund.

Where a refund is sought (as opposed to a credit), APT and Travelmarvel will continue to deduct an amount from refunds to cover reasonable losses that they were not able to recover, and will also deduct a fee per booking relating to administration costs in arranging the refunds.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was concerned that during the COVID-19 pandemic, APT and Travelmarvel were deducting, and representing to consumers that they were entitled to deduct greater amounts from refunds than they were entitled to deduct under their terms and conditions.

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Following months of engagement, the ACCC has now accepted a commitment from APT and Travelmarvel to stop deducting marketing and overhead costs from booking refunds impacted by the COVID‑19 pandemic.

APT and Travelmarvel will provide customers who have previously received a refund quote with a revised quote, and will reimburse customers who have already received a reduced refund due to marketing and overhead cost deductions.

Read more: ACCC to keep a keen eye on travel issues

“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.

“We are pleased that thousands of customers will now receive additional refunds and that this commitment will provide faster redress for consumers than court action, which would have been our next step,” Ms Court said.

Read more: Travel refund problems a dreadful situation

The ACCC understands that affected customers have either already been contacted by APT and Travelmarvel or will shortly be contacted about their revised refund.

“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,” Ms Court said.

“Our COVID-19 taskforce has engaged with dozens of travel businesses since the start of the pandemic and we will continue monitoring the industry to make sure consumers are receiving the remedy they are entitled to.”

APT and Travelmarvel will continue to consider, on a case-by-case basis, providing a full refund to any consumers who can provide evidence that they are experiencing medical or financial hardship arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have you received a refund for a COVID-related travel cancellation? Were you given a full refund or was money deducted for marketing fees?

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Written by Ben



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