‘House of Travel strictly adheres to its obligations under New Zealand consumer law in relation to fees applied for Covid-19-related cancellations, and believes its approach is consistent with these obligations,’ the company said in a statement yesterday. ‘As the travel industry is well aware, cancellations are both time consuming and complex given each booking is often structured around several suppliers, all of whom have different terms and conditions.
As such, House of Travel’s cancellation fee is different for each booking and it does not impose a flat cancellation fee. ‘Many suppliers’ terms and conditions are changing over time and House of Travel is continuously working with each to understand how those changes implicate their customers.’ House of Travel CEO Mark O’Donnell says the company will continue to act reasonably and responsibly in accordance with its legal obligations under New Zealand law. ‘We are doing our best during this incredibly difficult time to retain as many of our team as possible and we are advocating that our consultants deserve to be paid for the work they have already done. We are deeply appreciative to our customers who recognise and acknowledge this.
FC waives cancellation fees
Flight Centre New Zealand (FCNZ) is removing, and absorbing the cost of, its cancellation processing fees. David Coombes, managing director Flight Centre NZ, says the health, safety and support of customers is the top priority. ‘We have listened to feedback – both positive and negative – and made a further amendment to our refund policy to address one of the key ongoing concerns – our cancellation processing fee. ‘This follows on from changes we made last week to reduce cancellation fees for groups and families who have been unable to travel due to the impact of Covid-19. The latest change means that we will waive refund fees for all customers in situations where the third party supplier, usually the airline, has cancelled the service that was booked for the customer.’
The waiver will only apply to Flight Centre’s FC waives cancellation fees own cancellation fees. The company cannot waive fees or change conditions that airlines and other third party suppliers impose. The decision to waive fees will cost FCNZ an estimated $7m however Coombes sees this as an investment in the company’s customers who are under considerable stress, caused by financial uncertainty as a result of the significant impact of Covid-19. Coombes notes that Flight Centre’s cancellation policy was in line with requirements set by the NZ Commerce Commission, and the move has not been made for fear of legal action. ‘Many customers are, of course, choosing to postpone their holidays and to leave their money on file for future bookings, which carries its own benefits, like avoiding supplier cancellation charges.’