News

Bestjet employees reveal tense working conditions and withheld refunds

Just when you thought the Bestjet drama couldn’t get any juicier, former employees have come out with some explosive claims about the now-defunct OTA.

Former staff told the ABC the company deliberately withheld refunds for six months and only gave customers their money back when they “hounded” consultants.

“The refunds were only paid when clients asked for them, they had to ring up,” one ex-staff member told the ABC.

“Some refunds were held for well over six months.

“They had to hound the staff.”

Despite warnings to customers that refunds could take up to 12 weeks to be processed, the company allegedly received the refunds from airlines and withhold it for much longer.

And that’s not all, staff also revealed the horrendous conditions of Bestjet’s Brisbane headquarters, describing an “extremely high” staff turnover and a highly stressful work environment.

“There were times when the team would go to the toilet with their headset on,” one former employee admitted.

These allegations come just weeks after the company’s administrators, Pilot Partners, released a scathing report outlining the multiple offences that may have led to the company’s downfall.

Amongst other allegations, the report uncovered that Michael James, the husband of Bestjet managing director, Rachel James, may have been acting as de facto or ‘shadow’ director of the company.

The alleged ‘shadow’ director is disgraced former Air Australia boss, which collapsed the same year Bestjet was founded.

Michael James was banned from managing corporations for three years by the ASIC after Air Australia folded.

The ABC also revealed it had obtained emails from Michael James addressing staff during his ban, with some threatening to fire staff for complaining about customers.

“The next person I hear winge, butch [sic] or moan when they get off a call and speak negative about a customer will be dismissed,” one email said.

“Consider yourselves warned.”

Michael James has consistently denied holding a management position at Bestjet and Rachel James has even declared in court that her husband was not involved in the business after resigning from his role as fares and pricing analyst in 2015.

The company held a creditors meeting on January 30, appointing Nigel Markey and Bradley Hellen, both partners of Pilot Partners as liquidators of the company and its subsidiaries.

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