Following several consumer complaints, the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is reminding registrants that fees or penalties for refunds may not be charged if it was not disclosed at the time of booking, nor stated on the customer’s invoice.
The issue is the subject of TICO’s latest Registrar’s Bulletin, distributed this week after consumer complaints regarding fees for refunding of cancelled travel plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although we appreciate the frustration that many of you feel as a result of the strain the travel industry is currently under, it is imperative that you continue to adhere to the laws and regulations that govern your business,” the bulletin reads in part.
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The bulletin also acknowledges that TICO has been receiving customer complaints regarding “a number of registrants who are not reimbursing customers, or at a minimum issuing vouchers representing value equal to travel services purchased and not provided, for future travel services for packaged tours and holidays that were cancelled by the registrant, indefinitely postponed and/or no longer available to the customer as suppliers declared a failure to provide services (such as airlines, cruise lines and hotels) related to COVID-19,” including situations where it has been suggested to the customer that they have the option of cancelling when in fact the services are no longer available.
“We understand some customers may have purchased insurance which may provide full or partial reimbursement, but unless fully covered, the Registrant still has the obligation to ensure the customer has been made whole,” TICO said.
For comprehensive information on vouchers, registrants can refer to TICO’s Registrar Bulletin on Vouchers and Similar Documents .
TICO also noted that where a registrant has only sold another registrant’s package, and not acquired any rights to those components for resale, the registrant that sells to the customer is not subject to this provision.
The issuance of vouchers also applies if the customer was at the destination and did not receive all of the travel services for which they paid, such as having to cut their vacation short in order to return home early. Those registrants who packaged services are required to provide a voucher for the value of travel services not provided, TICO said.
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