Sunwing has fired a representative for hotels in the Dominican Republic for promising customers guaranteed negative COVID-19 tests, according to a report published by Radio-Canada on Monday (Feb. 28).
“The Sunwing employee at our hotel told us twice, in two separate conversations, that if we test positive at the hotel, we call him and he will find us a false negative test to return to the country,” states the report, which cites a complaint forwarded to Sunwing by a customer.
Radio-Canada writes that it obtained a copy of that message.
According to the client, who stayed with his family at the Grand Bavaro Princess in Punta Cana in early January, other travellers received the same advice during welcome meetings at the hotel.
The client who complained was concerned about the risk to public health posed by potential travellers with COVID-19 returning to Canada through false negative tests.
The co-authors of the report, Thomas Gerbet and Romain Schué, also note having obtained a recording of a French conversation between this client and the Sunwing representative at the hotel.
A transcript of the recording, which can be reviewed here, appears to confirm the scheme.
Sunwing takes action
A customer relations supervisor replied to the complainant on Jan. 24, stating that elements of the complaint did not lead to any conclusions of fraudulent action, Radio-Canada reports.
Sunwing also informed the customer that the employee in question had been let go.
“Measures have also been taken to prevent any similar situation from happening in the future and to ensure that all protocols are respected,” wrote Nathalie Caya, a Sunwing customer relations supervisor, in an email dated January 24.
The individual in question was not employed by Sunwing Vacations or Sunwing Airlines, but by a third-party destination management company, Sunwing told Radio-Canada.
"We are aware of the incident in question and take all comments regarding alleged fraudulent or immoral activity very seriously," a company statement read.
The Radio-Canada report indicates that Gatineau police, the Government of Quebec, Transport Canada and (presumably) the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have been informed of the incident and that investigations are underway.
“Transport Canada will not hesitate to impose the sanctions that will be necessary in the light of the examination of the facts,” stated a Transport Canada spokesperson quoted by Radio-Canada.
Based on testimonies from other travellers who have travelled down south, the report suggests that fraudulent COVID-19 tests are a reoccurring problem in travel.
As of Jan. 31, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and PHAC have intercepted 476 cases of test results suspected of being falsified or fraudulent, with half of them being found at airports.