Sim­ple steps make travel more se­cure

Pilbara News - - Opinion - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood

■ The re­cent col­lapse of a travel agency in WA and sim­i­lar in­stances over east should send a warn­ing to Aus­tralians look­ing to buy air­fares and/or hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Con­sumers who had paid cash, in per­son or by di­rect bank trans­fer for travel ser­vices lost their money when the agent failed to pass funds on to sup­pli­ers or can­celled booked travel ar­range­ments and kept the re­funds.

A num­ber of these busi­nesses spe­cialised in pro­vid­ing travel ser­vices to par­tic­u­lar groups. None of the agents were mem­bers of an in­dus­try ac­cred­i­ta­tion scheme.

Whether book­ing through an agent in per­son or online, you have rights un­der the Aus­tralian Con­sumer Law but you can pro­tect your­self fur­ther.

When look­ing for a travel agent, check they are ac­cred­ited — for ex­am­ple, through the Aus­tralian Fed­er­a­tion of Travel Agents’ ac­cred­i­ta­tion scheme, ATAS.

Find out whether the agent of­fers in­sur­ance to cover the col­lapse of car­ri­ers and travel agents in their group.

Check that they ad­ver­tise ser­vices and deals clearly and ac­cu­rately.

See if you can pay by credit card or by se­lect­ing credit on a MasterCard or Visa debit card.

You may pay ex­tra fees but you can seek a charge­back from your bank or card provider if you don’t get what you paid for.

Also find out if there is a can­cel­la­tion fee for trans­port or ac­com­mo­da­tion if you are un­able to travel.

When buy­ing from online sellers, check they are a rep­utable travel agent by search­ing for the busi­ness name and read­ing online re­views, and that they pro­vide real-world con­tact de­tails.

Also make sure the web­site pay­ments page in­cludes se­cu­rity fea­tures, such as a pad­lock sym­bol and ad­dress start­ing with https://.

If an air­line re­fuses to al­low you to board due to over­book­ing, in­sist on be­ing pro­vided with meals and ac­com­mo­da­tion un­til the air­line ar­ranges a seat for you on the next avail­able flight.

Con­tact Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion on con­sumer@com­merce.wa.gov. au or call 1300 30 40 54 for as­sis­tance and ad­vice on your op­tions, or to alert us that the travel provider may no longer be op­er­at­ing.

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