As many as 1200 Aussies could be losing out after the Young at Heart travel company was revealed to be entering liquidation last week.
The news broke when AFTA announced it was revoking the ATAS accreditation of Reed Holidays, which was trading as Young at Heart Holidays, and now News Corp is reporting that there could be in excess of 1000 elderly Aussies who could wind up out of pocket as a result.
The company, which targets seniors with youthful spirits, as the ‘Young at Heart’ name suggests, went into liquidation last week, with liquidators Cor Cordis appointed to help close the business.
Per News Corp, tours already underway were cancelled instantly, while thousands of dollars paid by customers expecting to travel later this year are currently unaccounted for.
These include packages that are worth around $10,000 per person, per News Corp.
Speaking to the Herald Sun, one customer named Judith Martin said she had finished paying off a trip for her husband and her just days before learning of the company’s collapse.
“No one said anything when I rang up to pay off the trip, surely they would have known something by then and didn’t have to take our money,” she told Herald Sun.
“I had been wondering why we hadn’t received our booking details and couldn’t believe it.”
Martin told the News Corp paper that her husband suffers from a disability, with these holidays the only tours available to accommodate the couple.
“No other company offers anything similar. It’s awful because we’re pensioners. We’re not flush with cash on good days,” she told Herald Sun.
Meanwhile, another pair of travellers, Raye Bolam-Tucker and her neighbour Sylvia Mattock, also told News Corp they’d been saving for years to go exploring in WA, the Kimberley and Darwin, only to have their trip cancelled four days in after the company went bust.
“We’re both despondent over the whole affair. It was something we were both looking forward too and now we don’t know if we’ll ever see our money,” Bolam-Tucker told Herald Sun.
“Travel insurance doesn’t cover insolvency so we have to hope these professionals can find all the money that’s gone missing or that’s it.”
AFTA wrote in a statement that they’d been alerted to the liquidation of Reed Holidays last week, with “a number of consumers impacted” by the situation.
“It would appear that the industry is doing what it can to assist under the circumstances,” they said.
“AFTA is advising consumers and travel agents who have been impacted to invoke a chargeback if payments were made by credit card and to contact the local police to commence criminal charges against the principals where payments and deposits had been paid for future travel that will now not be able to be taken.”
The Young at Heart Holidays website is still currently active, complete with AFTA and ATAS accreditation stickers.
The site describes itself as operating “small group holidays throughout Australia and select overseas destinations including New Zealand and overseas cruising for the 60-plus age group”.
Travel Weekly contacted the business for comment but hadn’t heard back at time of publishing.
So instead we reached out to some insurance experts for their take on it all.
Natalie Ball, Director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au, told Travel Weekly, “The last thing a traveller wants to hear is that their travel provider has gone belly-up, leaving their plans and trip savings in the lurch.
“Seniors with limited disposable income will certainly be feeling the pinch of the sudden collapse of Reed Holidays.”
Ball advises that not all travel insurers will provide cover for insolvency;
“Those affected by the financial collapse of Reed Holidays may have provision to claim with their travel insurer depending on which provider they have chosen.
“At present, only a handful, including InsureandGo, Medibank, Insure4less, Kango Cover and Webjet* provide some form of cover in the event that your tour operator or airline goes bust.”
Ball warned that travel insurance as a rule does not provide cover against insolvency or bankruptcy of a travel agent. However, tour operators such as Reed Holidays would not be subject to such an exclusion.
Alternative compensatory measures
*Check with your travel agent. Certain travel agents may have inbuilt insolvency protection cover and could provide you with compensation.
*Talk to your credit card provider. If you have paid for your holiday on your credit card, you may be able to seek reimbursement of your funds through your credit card.
*Get in touch with your insurer. If your travel insurance policy includes insolvency of a travel provider, you may be covered and should contact them as soon as possible.
As a final resort Ball advised those unable to recover their funds to contact their state government.
“Even if you’ve been denied compensation by your insurer you may still have a few avenues to redeem your funds. Some Australian states and territories have initiatives in place to claim compensation in such circumstances.”
Ball concluded, “As always our best piece of advice would be to invest in a travel insurance policy as soon as you’ve booked your trip. Enquire carefully with your insurer and make note of any specifics before you purchase.
“That extra time spent could save you far more savings than you would have anticipated.”
*A selection of insurers that provide insolvency cover