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167 posts

Master Geek


#268559 25-Mar-2020 19:32
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Hi all,

 

 

 

My wife and I had a return trip to Europe via China booked for May, obviously we would now like to refund and the airlines have told me they will refund the tickets if flights to China are still not going ahead (which it looks like they will not be).

 

However the cash refund goes to the travel agent and the travel agent has told me they have a new policy that they keep the refund and only offer a travel credit which is valid for one year.

 

That to me sounds like crap, they get cash back from the airline and will not pass it back to the customer, I am not sure what the legalities are here but would like to think I am entitled to the cash, I would prefer the cash over a credit any day.

 

My problem is my travel agent is playing hardball saying this is their policy and thats it, I want to know where I go from here, ill fight this with all I have but need some direction here.

 

I know under the consumer guaranties act you can refuse a replacement item if what you bought was faulty and demand money back instead, maybe its the same situation here?

Anyone have any advice?

P:S, I want to name and shame the agency also so others are aware, its STA Travel.


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  #2446611 25-Mar-2020 19:32
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Allow me to introduce you folks to our new travel community: TravelTalk NZ.

 

We hope to see you there!

 





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  #2446619 25-Mar-2020 19:47
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Which policy did you sign when booking ? Did they notify you of the change of policy and get you to sign the new one ?

 

I'd contact CAB for advice (if open) and go from there.

 

 





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  #2446620 25-Mar-2020 19:53
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CGA. You get should get a refund in the same way you paid. For more information on how to proceed use the Consumer Protection website.





 

 

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  #2446622 25-Mar-2020 19:59
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And if he plays hardball, here is the relevant CGA section. His policy cannot be a contract out of the law.





 

 

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  #2446722 25-Mar-2020 22:22
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If they are being this bad also let them know that you will be forwarding correspondence to the commerce commission. 

 

By the way they aren't playing hardball, they are behaving in a way that appears illegal. @dejadeadnz will probably have some "nicer" things to say.


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  #2446733 25-Mar-2020 22:46
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If you had bought tickets from the airline direct, sometimes international treaties like the Montreal Convention (via the Civil Aviation Act) do override other domestic legislation such as the CGA. There was a case a few years back where the Disputes Tribunal awarded compensation amounts above the limit under the Convention and Air NZ took that to judicial review and won. But a travel agent is a normal service provider and all the standard CGA protections apply - the clause that you need is section 29. Moreover, since the airline has actually agreed to refund in the event that the flight can't go ahead, there's no justification for STA to retain the money because they are actually acting as the agent of the airline. Agents must obey lawful instructions of their principal.

 

Quote STA the CGA, bad mouth them truthfully but firmly on social media channels and, most importantly, complain to the relevant airline. They will reverse course quick enough.

 

 


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  #2446785 26-Mar-2020 05:29
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David321:

 

Hi all,

 

 

 

My wife and I had a return trip to Europe via China booked for May, obviously we would now like to refund and the airlines have told me they will refund the tickets if flights to China are still not going ahead (which it looks like they will not be).

 

However the cash refund goes to the travel agent and the travel agent has told me they have a new policy that they keep the refund and only offer a travel credit which is valid for one year.

 

That to me sounds like crap, they get cash back from the airline and will not pass it back to the customer, I am not sure what the legalities are here but would like to think I am entitled to the cash, I would prefer the cash over a credit any day.

 

My problem is my travel agent is playing hardball saying this is their policy and thats it, I want to know where I go from here, ill fight this with all I have but need some direction here.

 

I know under the consumer guaranties act you can refuse a replacement item if what you bought was faulty and demand money back instead, maybe its the same situation here?

Anyone have any advice?

P:S, I want to name and shame the agency also so others are aware, its STA Travel.

 

 

 

 

I played this game with another retailer a while ago, I simply informed them under the CGA a refund was required, should they not want to comply then the money will be treated as a loan where interest and account management fees will be added, the choice is theirs.

 

 

 

Anyway very shortly after that a full refund was received.

 

 


 
 
 
 


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  #2446800 26-Mar-2020 07:45
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Did you pash cash, internet transfer or credit card? If the latter, approach your CC company for a charge back for services not received. They will refund you and and let them sort it out with the TA.


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  #2446806 26-Mar-2020 08:06
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Hm.. You're not alone it would appear (not quite the same, but a good article even if it is the Stuff.)




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Master Geek


  #2447080 26-Mar-2020 12:52
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tehgerbil:

Hm.. You're not alone it would appear (not quite the same, but a good article even if it is the Stuff.)



That's interesting, and gives me a bit less hope for my situation. But I see it's mainly for people dealing direct with airlines, my problem is the travel agent is not passing on to me what the airline is passing on to them.



167 posts

Master Geek


  #2456319 7-Apr-2020 10:08
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Hi all,

 

Recently I posted about my travel agent at STA Travel not passing on a cash refund to be passed on by an airline for a cancelled flight to China, and received some great advice which I am really grateful for.

 

The situation has evolved a little now and I wanted to seek further advice/guidance if possible, I do know that for proper legal advice I should talk to a lawyer (which I have done briefly), but I am not quite at that stage yet and hoping it will not be necessary - here is the situation as it stands now.

 

1, The STA Travel agent has confirmed to me last night that she is now able to lodge a refund request and has done so, but she claims the airlines can take up to 3 MONTHS to give the money back, that sounds a little extreme to me, but I do understand these are unprecedented times for airlines. Is there anything I can do to challenge the 3 month wait?

 

2, My travel agent STA is still saying they are unable to pass this refund on to me as cash (even though the airline is providing cash) - the reason being is that they have a new policy in relation to this based on advice from the UK government, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the association of British Travel Agents and equivalent bodies internationally including New Zealand. I believe this is a pretty weak argument, as none of these organizations supersede NZ law or the terms and conditions in the fine print of my tickets at the time of purchase, they are not even NZ organizations.

 

Should I be waiting 3 months for a refund? the airline is Lufthansa and I know European law states airlines must provide a refund within 7 days, what would be the case in New Zealand for a German airline? or would there be a case that since STA provided the ticket/service that they would be required to refund me within 30 days as required by consumer guarantees act and then seek the refund from the airline themselves? it is mentioned in the fine print that they only facilitate the contract between us and the airline (which is another strong argument I am entitled to the cash the airline is providing) so maybe this same sentence may exclude them from being required to give me the refund when they have not yet got it from the airline?

 

As far as I am aware the sooner I have my money back the better, and I will fight this as hard as I can and as long as I can because I am sure I am entitled to the refund. I am currently considering a charge back via the bank or taking this case to the disputes tribunal, is there something else I should look into? I have heard a charge back must be made within a certain time and also that they may not do it to airlines at the moment considering what is happening, but I also know a person I work with just had this done and it worked for them and theirs was against an agency and not the airline, like my case will be.

P:S I do sympathize for the travel industry in these tough times, but the reality here is I am not fighting an airline for a refund as opposed to a voucher, this is a situation where the airline are returning MY money to the agent as cash, but STA are holding my cash against my will. Returning my money will not hurt STA to much as it is only their commission on the tickets (probably a small percentage) that they would loose.   


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  #2456335 7-Apr-2020 10:26
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I would point out to STA that any agreement between them and an airline is their problem to sort out and not yours, I would point out to them that STA policy does not over ride the law (the CGA or FTA).

 

Advise them in writing when they refund will be required by (set a date and be specific)  and how the un-refunded money will be treated if the refund date passes - Late charges, Interest, collection costs, etc. In the letter state that unless the refunded money is not received then it is assumed that they agree to pay the stated charges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  #2456346 7-Apr-2020 10:45
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There's nothing more that anyone can do for you. You've basically summed up your own situation and mentioned the DT. Again, take note of my advice above and if that doesn't work, you'll need to go to the Disputes Tribunal as I have also advised this poster in another thread. The one thing I will say is that you are in a much stronger position in that, on the face of things, there's been a breach of the travel agent's duty to its principal (i.e. airline) whereby the airline appears to be willing to offer a refund but STA as the agent refuses to act upon the instruction to refund in cash.

 

Take the simplest route and don't focus on a lot of the complicated questions. You really don't want to take legal advice from a forum.


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  #2458690 9-Apr-2020 22:33
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Looks like somebody else is having same issue with STA Travel

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12323919

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