School's complaint kicked off investigation.
Educational Travel International, a company advertising as an educational tours specialist, has had its membership of the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) terminated. The decision follows an investigation into the company’s compliance with TAANZ’s membership and bonding criteria.
The association began its investigation in April after a Hamilton school complained the company wouldn’t refund its $23,000 deposit.
The school paid the deposit based on a written quote from Educational Travel for a class trip. However, the price later increased above the school’s specified budget.
The school said it told the company it couldn’t afford the increase and, after unsuccessful attempts to reduce the costs, requested a refund.
TAANZ chief executive Andrew Olsen said the school provided evidence of the issues encountered over months of trying to get confirmation of its travel arrangements. TAANZ recommended the company provide a refund of $20,700 to settle the matter. But that didn’t happen.
Educational Travel has since provided a partial refund but disputes there are grounds for any claim against the company. Managing director Shane Cockayne said the school paid a non-refundable deposit that was used to confirm bookings and the increase in quote resulted from changes to the itinerary.
Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards said if the school doesn’t receive a full refund it may be able to get compensation from the TAANZ Consumer Fund. The fund is available to customers who paid for tickets or services from a TAANZ member but didn’t receive them.
Olsen said customers must write to TAANZ within six months of an agent’s membership being terminated, providing supporting documentation. Each claim is assessed against the association’s payment criteria. Any refunds may also be subject to supplier charges, he said.
The Consumer Guarantees Act requires travel agents to carry out their work with reasonable care and skill. They’re also subject to the Fair Trading Act and cannot mislead you.
If an agent fails to meet these requirements, you may have grounds for a claim in the Disputes Tribunal.
Agents who are bonded members of the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand are required to comply with its rules. If an agent’s membership is terminated, you may be able to seek compensation for tickets or services that weren’t provided. You can check if an agent is a TAANZ member at www.taanz.org.nz