Topdeck Travel has responded to claims that it rebooked customers with cancelled trips without their knowledge or consent.
According to The Guardian, the Flight-Centre-owned tour operator had begun rebooking customers with credit vouchers on new trips despite the continued suspension of international travel.
The publication published an email that was sent to one Topdeck customer telling them they’d had a seat saved for them on a future trip.
“Having to postpone your 2020 Topdeck trip-of-a-lifetime totally sucked. We know the feels … lucky for you, we’ve sorted all the pesky logistics and have saved you a seat on the next available trip,” the email said.
“Get excited, as you’ll be revelling the Road Trip USA trip in September 2021.
“Now that I’ve booked your 2021 trip, you can kick back and relax – we don’t need full payment until 60 days before your departure.”
A law firm currently working to assist Topdeck customers, Madden Lawyers, said the company’s conduct was “alarming”.
“We are aware of a number of Topdeck customers who have requested refunds only to have a voucher provided as an alternative, and then unknowingly have a trip rebooked on a future tour by Topdeck with new dates and thousands of dollars of costs,” the firm’s class action principal, Kathryn Emeny, told The Guardian.
“This is alarming and unscrupulous corporate conduct.”
The law firm also provided The Guardian with an anonymous statement from a Topdeck customer who said they were rebooked without their permission.
“The company didn’t apologise or acknowledge my concerns after I had reached out to them to question the move,” the customer said.
“They even went to the point of insinuating that I should be thankful for them doing this to give me something positive to look forward to in the future.”
Topdeck told Travel Weekly that it has communicated with its customers who had funds on file (to be used towards future trips) and advised them that they had been tentatively booked on a new departure to avoid price increases that would otherwise apply if the 2021 tour season was to go ahead.
“Obviously, the new tour dates would not suit all customers, so they were also provided with the following advice (in writing) within those communications: This date doesn’t suit you? Or want to talk options with me? Reply to this email with your questions, jump on our Topdeck website chat or pick up the phone and give me a call,” the company said.
“No one is being forced to travel on a booking that doesn’t suit them or if circumstances don’t allow them to travel.”
According to Topdeck, most customers have either elected to keep a new trip booking or to leave the finds in credit with only a minority asking for refunds.
“We apologise for any confusion caused in this instance, but believe that this approach has generally been well-received by customers, given that many are looking forward to travelling when it is safe to do so,” it said.