Consumers who have paid for travel arrangements to a licensed travel agent may lodge a claim with the TCF in respect of financial loss suffered if the agent has:
- Ceased trading or suffered a financial collapse, and
- Failed to pass on their money to the travel principal (airlines, hotels, etc.)
You are referred to as a ‘claimant’.
Click here to download Claim Form Documentation. claims form
- Travel by air, land (coach, rail, etc.) or sea
- Accommodation at hotels or resorts
- Car hire – Airport transfers
- Admission fees
- Travellers cheques
The claim must be for loss suffered because the agent failed to account for money paid for travel arrangements and the loss is not covered by the claimant’s travel insurance.
In some cases, after a travel agent closure and failure to deliver booked and paid travel arrangements, claimants may find that the cost of replacing the lost arrangements is higher than the original payment.
For example, hotel accommodation may be at a higher rate for the same standard of room, or the price of sightseeing tours may be dearer than what was included in the price of the original package. These are known as consequential losses .
The area of consequential loss is complicated and requires that the claimant justify any expense incurred over and above the cost of the original travel or package.
The TCF is not obliged to pay a consequential loss claim, and, unless there are special circumstances, any consequential loss claim is subject to a cap of 25% of the original claim.
Larger consequential loss claims must also be approved by the Board of the TCF, which meets several times per year.
The TCF has published a guideline dealing in more detail with the payment of consequential loss claims.
Click here to download the Consequential Loss Guideline No.1
If consumers are considering making a late claim, they should include all information relevant to the matters which the TCF takes into account, as set out in Guideline No.2.
Click here to download the Unlicense Claim Guideline No.2
The TCF has published a guideline dealing with the payment of above-ceiling claims.
Click here to download the Above-Ceiling Claims Guideline No. 3
In summary, the TCF is only obliged to compensate a claimant for loss up to $25,000 of the amount actually paid to a travel agent who is licensed and a TCF participant at the time of the payment, and then only if the claim is received within 12 months of the agent failing to provide the travel services (which is usually when the agent ceases business and is terminated as a TCF participant). All other claims under the Trust Deed are discretionary. The TCF may pay them, but is not obliged to do so.
Claimants complete a Claim for Compensation and provide supporting documentary evidence to confirm the payments were made for travel arrangements. Suitable documentation includes receipts issued by the agent and other evidence of payment, such as:
- Cheque payments – copy of the cheque(s)
- Cash payments – copy of bank account withdrawal
- Direct credit to agent’s bank account – copy of stamped deposit counterfoil
- Credit card payment – copy of the credit card voucher and statement
- Travel Agent invoices, quotes and a travel itinerary may also assist in establishing a claim.
If the claimant has paid the agent by credit card, then the claimant should apply as soon as possible to the bank or other credit card provider for the credit card debit to be reversed (a ‘charge back’). Credit card providers have time limits in which they will accept claims for a charge back.
The TCF will not usually pay a claim for a credit card payment unless the claimant can show that he or she has made an application for a charge back, which has been declined. Charge card providers usually provide charge backs or reimbursement on a more limited basis than credit card companies.
Assessment and approval of claims generally takes usually takes about three weeks, but this requires that full supporting documentation be provided at the time the claim is lodged. Claims requiring special consideration of the Board of Trustees (such as for consequential loss and unlicensed trading claims) may take up to 10 weeks.
If another travel agent takes over the travel arrangements and the claimant assigns their right to compensation to the agent, payment of any compensation may be made directly to the new agent. The claim form must be appropriately completed to nominate the new agent. However, the TCF will assess the claim in the normal way and both the claimant and new agent must recognise there is no guarantee that a claim will be approved.
Click here to refer to – Frequently Asked Questions
If the TCF does not admit a claim for a loss, then the claimant may, in some cases, appeal the TCF’s decision.
Even if the TCF does not pay your claim, you may be able to claim from a company liquidator or administrator, or trustee in bankruptcy, where the travel agent is insolvent. If the claim related to quality of service (which is not covered by the TCF), then the consumer may be able to take action through a court or tribunal dealing with consumer claims.