Wednesday, 18 March 2020 11:51

ACCC issues advice on consumer rights, obligations on event, travel cancellations due to COVID-19 Featured

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Australia’s consumer watchdog the ACCC has issued advice for consumers and businesses on their rights and obligations if events, flights or travel services are cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), or if people wish to cancel their travel plans.

The Austalian Competition and Consumer Commission says if events, flights or other travel services such as cruises are cancelled, the it expects refunds or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher will be offered in most circumstances.

“Failure by any business to honour its cancellations or refunds policy may constitute misleading conduct under the Australian Consumer Law,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

“We also remind consumers that many small and medium business are trying to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak as best they can. We urge consumers to exercise patience and treat service staff with courtesy and respect as they fulfil consumer requests for refunds and remedies.”

The ACCC says if the event, flight or travel service is cancelled due to government restrictions, consumer rights under the consumer guarantees may be impacted, and in these situations consumers may be entitled to a refund under the terms and conditions of their ticket, or potentially may make a claim under a travel insurance policy.

“Given the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC encourages all businesses to treat consumers fairly and compassionately,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We welcome the decisions by many businesses who are already offering refunds to all ticketholders, and expect other event and travel businesses to also offer remedies to all affected consumers when events or travel services are cancelled.”

“If a consumer chooses not to attend an event that is still going ahead or travel domestically due to coronavirus concerns, this may be treated as a ‘change of mind’. The same applies to hotel room bookings. Consumers’ rights to refunds in these circumstances will depend on the terms and conditions and any cancellation policy adopted by the business.

“Consumers in all situations should contact businesses directly to request a refund or other remedy such as a credit note or voucher,” Sims said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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