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ACAC decision provides warning to agents when providing refund advice

ACCMC Ruling on refunds

At the most recent ATAS Compliance Appeal Committee (ACAC) meeting, it was held due to an appeal against an ATAS Participant, that when advising a customer on the amount of a refund, it is important to stipulate that it may be subject to change. It was also held that advice stating the word “approximately” allowed only for a 10% deviation from the amount advised.

FACTS: The facts of the first hearing involved the cancellation of a school trip by a parent who was seeking a further refund than had been provided by the airline. The contentious issue was that the Agent had advised the customer in writing that the refund would be “approximately” a certain amount. No other information was provided in the advice to the client. When the customer did cancel, albeit some weeks later, the amount of the refund had significantly reduced from the advised amount due to the end supplier’s terms and conditions.

HELD: The ACAC held that the term “approximately” allowed only a 10% deviation from the amount advised. As such, the ACAC held that a further $500 be paid to the customer so that the amount refunded was within the 10% threshold.

ADVICE TO ATAS PARTICIPANTS: AFTA recommend that any advice given to a customer regarding the amount of a refund should clearly stipulate that any such amount is only valid at the time the advice is given and that the amount of refund is subject to change based on the terms and conditions of the end supplier.

ATAS CODE OF CONDUCT: It is appropriate to remind ATAS Participants of their obligations under the ATAS Code of Conduct and of the following applicable sections:

S3.2 (a) In providing our services, we will:

(iii) Enable you to make more informed decisions about your travel needs by:

  • Disclosing all relevant information in a plain and easy-to-understand form, including information about any rights or obligations relating to our services;

  • Providing detailed explanations, on request, of the contents of any brochures and other written information we might provide you; and
  • Ensuring that any advice is either provided by suitably qualified staff members, unless it is appropriate to refer you to an external source of advice, including the supplier of the travel product or service in question.