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ACCC investigating after dozens of people were left out of pocket by houseboat operator

(Image: Echuca Luxury Houseboats)


Dozens of people who were left out of pocket after a houseboat operator refused to refund bookings for holidays they could not take because of the COVID-19 shutdown look set to get their money back.

Neil Mitchell first raised the issue on Wednesday and was inundated by messages from more than a dozen people who had been left thousands of dollars out of pocket after making bookings with Echuca Luxury Houseboats.

One group had paid more than $30,000 for an Easter booking, and the houseboat operator would not reschedule or refund the booking, but had instead offered a voucher with strict restrictions, which was worth less than 50 per cent of the original booking value.

Today, the ACCC confirmed it is investigating after it received 20 complaints from people who had booked with the Murray River houseboat operator during the coronavirus lockdown period.

Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Rod Sims, said it’s “a lot” of complaints.

“We’ll certainly be engaging with the company,” he told Neil Mitchell.

Mr Sims said, in most cases, those who booked a houseboat during lockdown should be entitled to a refund.

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Echuca Luxury Houseboats has today provided the following statement to 3AW Mornings:

“We can assure you that we are working in good faith to provide the best outcome for our impacted customers. We are in the process of drafting correspondence to our impacted customers which will outline our offer of a voucher that they will be able to use over the next 3 years.”

Some people who had booked with Echuca Luxury Houseboats during the shutdown have today received offers for unrestricted vouchers at the full value of their bookings, after Neil Mitchell raised the issue publicly.

“We’re starting to get offers regarding the Echuca Luxury Houseboats, so we are getting a full value offer,” Jan told Neil Mitchell.

“I think it’s all thanks to you, Neil.”

Press PLAY below to hear what happened yesterday.