When the pandemic hit, many Australians obviously had thousands of dollars tied up in travel plans that had to be suddenly cancelled, replaced instead by lengthy periods of confusion and frustration as refunds were chased down. Over a year on I continue to be approached by constituents who are struggling to get their money back for cancelled flights and bookings or who have grudgingly been given flight refunds or travel credits with improbable time lines for use, all of which goes to show clearly that current Australian consumer law just isn’t cutting it.
That needs to be remedied, which is why I’m supporting CHOICE magazine’s call for a suite of reforms to provide greater clarity, consistency and fairness for travellers who can’t get the travel services they paid for due to circumstances outside their control. Indeed, CHOICE’s recommendations would ensure that consumers are informed and protected, including measures to lift standards of service, easier processes for customer refunds, fairer travel credits and vouchers, and clearer procedures for disputes to be heard and resolved.
We know the pandemic has been tough on many people, including, I should add, on many travel agents who’ve worked tirelessly to help their clients. Reform is clearly needed. I call on both the government and the opposition to get behind CHOICE’s recommendations.