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COVID rip-offs: Would-be travellers left thousands of dollars out-of-pocket

Neil Mitchell
Article image for COVID rip-offs: Would-be travellers left thousands of dollars out-of-pocket

Would-be travellers have lost millions in cancelled bookings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some resorts, hotels, flight agents and cruise operators have refused to refund bookings made before COVID-19 hit.

Caller Andy booked a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer train, through British Colombia and Alberta in Canada, back in 2019.

But he couldn’t go due to COVID-19, and hasn’t been able to get his money back.

“They’re telling me they can’t refund it,” he said.

“They will give you credit to go a different time. They’re giving me up to 2023. Now when it gets to that time I’m going to be just about 80!”

Press PLAY below for Andy’s story.

CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre, Gerard Brody, says he wouldn’t be surprised if millions of dollars are owed.

“There’s a lot of people waiting for refunds,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“If a service provider has promised to refund you, then you are entitled to that money. It’s about just the practical reality of getting it into your account.”

Mr Brody says the situation highlights weaknesses in Australia’s consumer protection legislation.

“Australia’s consumer protection laws have fallen behind. It’s really been stark during COVID,” he said.

“I’d encourage people in that situation to escalate the issue with the consumer affairs regulators, both Consumer Affairs Victoria and the ACCC.

“Ultimately people do have a right to take any sort of consumer complaint to a legal avenue through VCAT.

“There’s fees involved with that and it does take time as well so it’s not going to be a quick resolution, unfortunately.”

Press PLAY below for more.

Neil Mitchell
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