Travel Agents

Liberal MP proposes new laws to improve integrity of travel agents

A prominent politician has suggested changes to the way travel agents deal with customer refunds.

Liberal MP and former cabinet minister Kevin Andrews said he has been inundated with horror stories of people getting travel refunds during the COVID-19 pandemic, and believes that the goodwill and integrity of travel agents is to blame.

“I’m not doubting the integrity of most travel agents – people are trying to do the right thing – but COVID has compounded an underlying problem,” he told the AAP.

Andrews is keen to debate a motion in federal parliament that agents should operate under a similar system to that of the real estate industry, whereby a customer deposit for a trip goes into a trust account.

“It’s to the benefit of both travellers and agents,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s the travel agents’ fault, but if people can travel and then become fearful that they won’t be able to get refunds, it’s not helpful and it’s not going to do the travel industry any favours either.”

According to the AAP, Andrews wants laws introduced that entitle travellers to a refund if the product or service that they purchased hasn’t been delivered “due to situations outside of human control”.

The Liberal MP said that under the proposed trust account system, all agents would also charge a transparent fee for service.

What do you think about Andrews’ proposal? Let us know in the comments section below.

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6 responses to “Liberal MP proposes new laws to improve integrity of travel agents”

  1. This is an excellent idea – obviously very well thought out with plenty on input from the industry – I would just like to add an amendment for politicians so that whenever they make a promise their salary goes into a “trust account”. They then only get paid when they actually do what they are elected to and that is to represent us. It will be to the benefit of the general public and politicians. “I’m not saying breaking promises is the politicians’ fault, but if people can be told one thing and then become fearful that they won’t be able to see any results, it’s not helpful and it’s not going to do the political industry any favours either.”

  2. Having met this politician, his comments are so far of the mark, that he should be totally embarrassed by his ignorance by not knowing the requirements of a travel agent to be licenced in the state they operate in and are compulsory require to hold a trust account as part AFTA/ATAS requirement. He should immediately withdraw his comments with an apology to the industry. I am an agent of 53 years standing and find Kevin Andrews’ comments to be totally offensive and untrue.

  3. What a great idea! They will need an whole new department to administer this. How about The Travel Compensation Fund? No, we had that but they didn’t think trust accounts worked. How about The Travel Agents Registration Board? They tried that too and eventually reached the obvious conclusion – you can’t legislate against incompetency or dishonesty.

  4. Remember to consult with the industry Kevin, you have plenty of prominent travel industry professionals in your electorate; just as you have high value travelers.

    A requirement of a trust account could be applied unilaterally across all industries where the customer pays but receives their goods on a later date. In the case of Australia, where airfares are the 12th highest in the world, such changes would simply further increase the cost of travel just as introducing a similar playing field to other industries would push the price of goods up.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is a first for the developed travel industry. Your Government has been woefully slow in
    distributing vaccines in our country thereby assisting to inhibit the industry returning to its feet again.

    Using some vim and vigor to help your Liberal counterparts in other parts of Victoria to develop a fighting force that results in a new Premier who doesn’t lead your state into disaster after the next election might be a more pressing project for you to work on.

  5. I think Mr Kevin Andrews has had too many conversation with Mr Glezer, (As per his facebook posts) instead of speaking to the industry people who are living this nightmare on a daily basis ….and I think he is out of touch of how the industry works. He has only consider one side of the conversation. It is not a matter of simply having a Trust Account. As a Supplier I operate a very strict Trust Account. But once the Funds have left that account (which they will do prior to people travelling – Money upfront) and make their way to international bank accounts, no regulation to the industry in Australia is going to see an international supplier returning those funds. A request for 100% refund on a booking that has been paid to an International supplier is not going to happen. First Fact you need to take into consideration is – IF you can get the country in question to release those funds back to Australia, the currency exchange buyback difference to refund the client in Australian Dollar is massive. Even Minister Andrews would know that you cannot buy and sell currency at the same rate – so IF we can get those funds back you will be losing at least 15-20 % on the currency difference at the moment. (depending which currency you are dealing in). Secondly why should the industry work for nothing… Im sure Minister Andrews gets paid for every hour he works (and more) so why should a travel agent who is entrusted a clients holiday and spends hours (if not days) working on it not get paid for their work. How do we make money – that pay come out of the funds paid to them as part of the holiday payment – therefore when a client requests a refund the agent should be able to charge their standard hourly rate – no other industry for works for nothing – why should we! You pay me $2000 for a flight – I earn $100 commission on that – should you want a refund you will get $1,900 maximum back on that ticket (if the airline allows for refunds – again foreign airlines have their own rules that Australia Government laws cannot change). I have provided a service by consulting with you, finding you the best fare, booking your ticket, collecting your money, distributing that money and checking your tickets and I expect to be paid for it. His comment that the law should be change that entitles a travellers to a refund if the product or service that they purchased hasn’t been delivered – I provided a service and shoudl be paid for it. This statement would open the door to claims that far wide reaching than a pandemic and again if the funds are sitting in international bank account ready for the clients arrival then no degree of law in Australia will force those international banks to release those funds back to us.
    The Trust Account conversation will not fixed an industry not built to go backwards – the client is entitled to a refund or Credit, where a refund cannot be obtained, less a travel agents income earned – that is the only fair system in this industry.
    I can assure you a Real Estate Agent will not give you a 100% refund after they have put many hours into the sale of your home if you decide to cancel and not sell. More than happy to discussion this issue with Minister Andrews.

  6. And how will trust accounts assist with credits held overseas? The number of agents that have ripped people off would be none to miniscule. Customers frequently don’t understand the issues, or worse they do but still scream to try to shake down the agent.

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