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Thousands of travellers score refunds up to $3k

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Woman wearing a floppy straw hat and a white dress standing next to the railing on a cruise ship
Thousands of travellers will receive additional refunds. Image: Getty.

Thousands of Australian travellers forced to cancel plans due to COVID-19 will receive major refunds from Australian Pacific Touring after the consumer watchdog called them out over unfair refund policies.

Cruise and tour company Australian Pacific Touring (APT), which trades as APT and Travelmarvel, agreed on Wednesday to stop deducting overhead costs and marketing charges from booking refunds. It will now also reimburse customers who hadn’t been refunded those fees.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it had been concerned the company had been claiming that it was allowed to deduct greater amounts from refunds than was actually stated in its terms and conditions.

“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,” Court said.

In fact, at 15 per cent of $20,000, many Australians will now be set to receive extra refunds of around $3,000.

“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,” Court said.

APT is still allowed to deduct reasonable losses from refunds, and also charge refund administration fees.

The ACCC said affected customers will soon be contacted by APT if they haven’t been already.

“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,” 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.”

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Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance