It’s one of the ~facts~ a lot of us just accept: we can’t refund our flight tickets unless we’re willing to fork out extra dosh. Except it might not be so factual as we believed. A current inquiry and court case brought by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commision (ACCC) looking into the refund policies of several large Australian airlines is forcing them to change a ‘misrepresentation’ of their refund policies.
According to the ACCC, Jetstar, Tigerair, Qantas and Virgin airlines must all change their refund policies and practices to meet ‘consumer guarantee obligations‘ as set out in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
What’s the problem, exactly?
“Airlines cannot make blanket statements that flights are non-refundable or charge consumers a fee to get a refund when they are entitled to one free of charge under the ACL,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims explained in a press release.
So basically the ACCC felt that telling customers there was a blanket rule they could not get a refund, even on cheap flights, defied current consumer laws that can’t be changed for any company for any reason. As the press release stated:
“The ACCC was concerned that each airline had made false or misleading representations on their websites that misled consumers about their rights to refunds and resupply in the event of significant flight delays or cancellations.”
Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia have also agreed to review any complaints from customers affected during a time period set by the ACCC so they can offer refunds/ fix the situation for customers who actually were entitled to them under ACL laws.
“Jetstar, Tigerair, Qantas and Virgin Australia have provided substantial undertakings to the ACCC and in doing so have committed to doing the right thing by their passengers in relation to refunds and other remedies under the consumer guarantees,” says Sims.
While the offences range between these airlines from asking for a service fee for providing refunds, to flat out denying them, it seems Jetstar has admitted to the worst of the misleading conduct and are now being taken to court by ACCC.
If you think you might have been affected, you can find more info about what to do here.