CHOICE membership

Accommodation refund

In June this year, we booked accommodation in Jindabyne, for three nights in July. When lockdown was called, we asked the accommodation for a refund. It refused, stating that it has a no refund policy. While we were aware of the no refund policy at time of booking, we were not aware of the oncoming lockdown that was later enforced. We have asked Wotif to get the refund on our behalf without success. We have contacted the accommodation - Carinya Lodge, in Jindabyne, several times and they refuse to give a refund. Fair Trading and ACCC have sided with the ‘no refund’ policy. Has anyone had dealings with Carinya Lodge and managed to get a refund or have advice on where to from here?

2 Likes

Welcome to the Community @Hazel,

Yours is another chapter on COVID-19 Prepaid travel cancellations, a long topic that provided 'all the information available from our forum members, the ACCC, and Choice, but it does not apply to your situation having booked recently and with eyes wide open.

Booking and paying for any travel arrangement in these times continues to be fraught with peril for the dollars lodged even when the customer cannot be.

The ACCC’s formal advice is essentially when one makes a booking (especially under your circumstances) where you knew about a no-refund policy, that policy holds.

I presume you mean Carinya Village that sometimes shows as Carinya Lodge, or is that vice versa?

From their booking T&C they appear fairly hard nosed; there is not even a reference to rescheduling.

#### Booking Policy

50% of total booking cost is required to secure your booking Balance is payable 30 days prior to arrival and IS NOT REFUNDABLE NON REFUNDABLE/NO CANCELLATIONS

#### Cancellation Policy

Being a seasonal accomodation, all rates are non-refundable. Carinya is not responsible for weather conditions, personal emergencies, or other activities schedule changes. No refunds for early check outs.

They have essentially indicated that regardless, ‘your’ problem is not going to be their problem. What you have not indicated is whether you have asked for and also been knocked back on a credit for a future stay considering the unusual circumstances travellers and businesses are both experiencing.

It appears you need to rely on any goodwill Carinya Lodge might have and seek a credit, not refund. If knocked back on that I cannot offer any further advice.

4 Likes

As our Government has chosen not to institute legislation that would guarantee refunds for tourism related bookings if affected by COVID, we are pretty well at the mercy of the tourism accommodation/travel/service providers.

For your information, the ACCC guidance @PhilT was referring to in the preceding post can be found at consumer rights in relation to COVID.

5 Likes

All I strongly suggest is businesses with unfavourable COVID-19 cancellation T&Cs aren’t supported by Australians.

Soap box time:

I agree that it shouldn’t be rocket science that refunds should occur where travel or booking can’t be fulfilled through something outside a guests control. There are many businesses which have a different view to our own and think the guest should be held accountable for the predicament that the business finds itself in. These business owners don’t have a conscious.

What also is annoying is the same businesses which charge cancellation fees for COVID measures implemented by government (and as a result their guests can’t fulfill the booking), will also be making application for government grants. We have the strong belief that such businesses should be disqualified from the grant and support programs. They should not be allowed to take with one hand, and then stick up the other expecting to receive a grant/government support.

4 Likes

I agree.

I also know there are operators who will immediately refund without a quibble. These are the ones we should be supporting. :wink:

6 Likes

Is there any way of finding out if these businesses are double dipping - no refund to customers, hand out for government grants?

3 Likes

Unfortunately no. But, it is likely any business which still trade in the hospitality or accommodation industry has benefited from government support such as jobkeeper, grants or other business support.

Government support for business has been based on loss of revenue and not how the business operates.

2 Likes

Book Accomodation Sunshine Coast - however due to my partner needing to isolate because of Covid we no longer can go - My Host is telling me there will be no refund as we didnt cancel within the 7 days before we were due to arrive - Anyone know what my rights are or who I can contact.

Welcome to the Community @Rooee24,

I merged your query into this existing topic, and there is a v.e.r.y long topic I previously linked (post 2 above) about COVID-19 travel issues that has many links to the resources and advice available.

I hope you will find this and the linked topic helpful. As a quick summary it seems for recent bookings the T&C apply save for any good will offered by the provider and travellers need to check those prior to making bookings to know what might happen, just in case they could not travel.

2 Likes

thanks Phil - they even havent offered to refund the cleaning fee they were going to charge me $300

Hi @Rooee24, welcome to the community. It is unfortunate you have struck a unsympathetic host/provider.

Further to what @PhilT has indicated, it is likely the T&C’s is what they have communicated… that being a non-refundable cancellation period of 7 days prior to check-in.

If this is the case, it may be worth trying to see if they are willing to reschedule your booking to a later date or offer credit for the amount you have already paid. This hopefully is a compromise they might be interested. While not a refund, it may be a middle of the road solution for both parties.

2 Likes

It’s worth asking how they can justify that charge, given you are not using the property. It is best to ask formally (email etc) to ensure the request is on the record.

Another form of double dipping?

At peak times accommodation providers can often fill cancelations with new bookings. Locally the two motels have been solidly booked through the Xmas school holiday season. A family member was lucky to pick up a cancellation on short notice. There were others in the queue for the vacancy, and a bit of local knowledge won out.

Under common T&Cs the provider may legally keep the full fee cost of a cancelled prepaid booking and gains the bonus of the replacement.

Fair or a consumer rip off?
Should Government regulate accommodation providers such that they insure against cancelations, enabling customers to a full refund under fair terms? Limited to reasonable causes.

This may have traditionally been the case before Covid, but in the current Covid environment, this is unlikely for most businesses as domestic travelling requires more planning than that which has occurred in the past. Within the industry, there has been discussion that once a booking has cancelled at short notice, the opportunity to get a rebooking is severely limited.

Such insurance currently isn’t possible for most tourism businesses and the government would need to legislate the insurance industry to provide such insurance. Businesses could self insure, but this means that all consumers would pay more as the cost would be added to the standard amount.

An alternative which is available through some travel insurers is, for travellers which don’t have an appetite for risk, to take out domestic travel insurance which covers event’s such as when one can’t travel due to a Covid outbreak within a family.

I noticed a few adds for people who had to cancel their travel plans trying to on-sell their prepaid bookings ‘at a discount’ to mitigate their losses. I’ll punt few T&Cs address a ‘third party’ rocking up for their holiday stay, and would/should they care?

Yes the service provider would care.

Onselling a booking is very risky and may end up in grief for those with the original booking and those who have ‘bought’ the booking.

Many providers require some form of identification on arrival. This can be a photo I’d (driver’s licence, passport etc) or credit card used to make the booking, to confirm that the person standing on arrival is the person making the booking. Should they not be the same, it is likely a booking won’t be honoured. There are many reasons for including insurance, untraceable/anonymous guests etc.

Secondly, most providers require credit cards as security for a booking. If one onsold a booking and the buyer of the booking managed to check in (say it was a contactless check-in) , then any costs incurred by the persons fulfilling the booking (additional services used, damage, purchases etc) will be charged to the credit card used for security. One would then need to try to recover costs from the person who bought the booking - good luck comes to mind.

If one is caught onselling a booking and used a booking platform (Airbnb, Expedia etc), it is possible they their account is removed and future opportunities to book through the platforms blocked.

The only way for onselling to work is to gain permission of the provider if one only booked directly, but most are unlikely to provide permission for the same reasons outlined above. Most providers will decline permission as subleasing won’t be possible.

2 Likes

Interesting thought.

1 Like

As has been reiterated many times in the Community, by Choice and the ACCC, it is important to check and understand booking terms and conditions associated with a Covid related booking cancellation.

If one isn’t comfortable with the terms and conditions being offered, one isn’t compelled to make a booking with that particular service provider. Book elsewhere if one is uncomfortable with them.

One can also protect themselves by taking out domestic travel insurance where policies are being offered to provide Covid related cover where circumstances meet the policy coverage.

It isn’t a businesses fault that a guest cancels due to Covid, particularly in those circumstances where travel isn’t allowed through government imposed restrictions. Some businesses chose terms and conditions more in favour of their guests, others chose not to. I personally would be supporting those with more favourable terms and conditions as these businesses have often taken a more significant financial hit with policies of issuing refunds/wavering fees when cancellations occur.

As outlined above, the assumption that a business has the ability to rebook cancellations received within a few days to a week or two is not representative of the current environment businesses operate. Our own business, where find we possibly rebook 1/3 of last minute (<14 days) cancelled bookings. Speaking to others in the industry, we are luckier than most. Only those in the limited number of Australia’s most desirable tourist locations may fair better.

1 Like

The case example is a guaranteed one for one rebooking. The t&c are what they are, and what might appear as profiteering is what it is. A host that keeps 100% of a booking and has a relet in hand with the cancellation? It may be his right but is it right?

2 Likes

That isn’t the case. There was no guarantee there would be any rebooking. Rebooking for any business is unlikely in the current Covid environment. The comment came from speculation and not from an understanding of the environment businesses currently operate.

The government handouts outlined in the original post ceased well before the booking in a question. There is some very limited assistance offered by some states when there is a direction to close/lockdown a business due to a reported infection. Such assistance might pay a power bill in some cases, but not much more. This isn’t double dipping as the business would be closed.

If you look at our business, we could easy argue that a 33% refund is reasonable and justifiable based on our own numbers. We chose not to and have a policy which favours the booker… we haven’t charged and cancellation fees under our Covid policy since March 2020.

We don’t know the circumstances of the businesses in question and they might be able to easily justify 100% if they have high running costs and have low rebooking rates. They chose the booking terms and these were accepted as part of the booking process. I wouldn’t book with such businesses by choice if the terms favoured the service provider only.

As I have indicated, no one is compelled to book, and one has the choice to go elsewhere. I personally don’t think such terms are fair, when cancellations are outside a guests control. Maybe 50% is fair/justifiable…likely to be more (noting most businesses don’t have gross operating profits of 50% but substantially less). Maybe the average operating profit per booking is what can reasonably and fairly refunded if a business chose to. This might be almost nothing depending on the financial status of the business.