01.Pack Some Peace of Mind
Today consumer protection agencies across Australia have launched a campaign to inform consumers about the deregulation of the travel industry.
Travel agents no longer have to be licensed, and they no longer have to be member of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) – which is now being wound down.
The TCF used to provide compensation for consumers when travel agents collapsed, leaving their customers out of pocket.
The government advertising campaign will also remind consumers that they are still protected by the Australian Consumer Law when buying travel products and services, both when using online services and travel agents.
Australian Specialty Tours went into liquidation on 15 August, after the changes officially came into effect on 1 July.
Only consumers who bought products before 1 July will be able to get compensation for their losses from the TCF. Otherwise, consumers can pursue a chargeback from their bank if they paid by credit card, or pursue compensation through their travel insurance.
Travel agents can now become members of a voluntary accreditation scheme run by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, called ATAS. The scheme has been funded with leftover funds from the TCF.
ATAS-accredited travel agents will be required to follow a code of conduct aimed at providing quality assurance for consumers. The scheme will also include a complaint mechanism and minimum standards for staff training.
CHOICE has also received funding from the TCF to establish a consumer voice in the travel industry.
The government website packsomepeaceofmind.gov.au
has more information. You can also visit CHOICE’s helpful FAQs
on what the changes mean for consumers.