CHOICE membership

Bestjet Insolvency - What next for It's Customers?


#1

Continuing the discussion from Travel agent vs do it yourself bookings:

Suggested that this topic given the impact and magnitude with very specific issues needs it’s own topic?


#2

Good idea. I might’ve posted this piece on credit card charge backs before, I can’t remember. It’s a few years old but I had a quick check this morning and it’s still relevant advice. https://www.choice.com.au/travel/money/travel-money/articles/chargeback-rights


#3

I actually know the couple featured in this article. What sort of recourse do consumers have?

Is it just limited to your travel insurance (if they cover it) and maybe the credit card chargeback option?

From my experience, I always find it easier to go directly through the airline when making any bookings.


#4

This 9 report suggests more than a bit of dodgy activity and exposes how ‘the system’ can be gamed.


#5

#6

If the new owners actually managed to destroy a “highly profitable” business in less than 2 months, they really would have a claim for a listing in the Guiness Book Of Records.


#7

The challenge here may be tracing where all the missing millions went. International travel business with regular overseas currency transactions. Doubtless overseas banking facilities? Perhaps even financing from OS banks? :thinking:

The ATO will be one of the first in line.
And unfortunately any class actions may only be a partial remedy.
Short of proven criminal activity company structures are very effective at shielding individuals. :rage:

On a positive point there are exceptions - Alan Bond’s conviction being notable but not so recent!


#8

For a class action to have any benefit, the party defending the class needs to have assets to cover and potential liabilities from the action. I just hope that if a class action is mounted, the parties are made away of the likely return on their legal investment (which could be substantial if considerable assets exist to zero, zero being where no recoverable assets exist). Otherwise they might be throwing more good money away thinking there is a pot of gold under the rainbow.

Director responsibilities also can come into play…

https://asic.gov.au/for-business/your-business/tools-and-resources-for-business-names-and-companies/asic-guide-for-small-business-directors/directors-liabilities-when-things-go-wrong/

What has happened at Bestjet is interesting/challenging, and what went wrong and who is potentially responsible will come out over time as its financial history and structures is unravelled.


#9

#10

I wonder how many of the impacted Bestjet Customers and also Choice members?


#11

It appears that the truth is starting to come out and the chickens (or rats) are coming home to roost.


#12

“Truth” or more of the story coming out?

Have I read this right ? A Bestjet named enterprise based in Singapore is no surprise. It is the way for many business that transact major international currency payments to set them selves up. It is however noteabe it was not included in the sale of the Australian Bestjet enterprise to McVicker.

There may be a long road ahead for the customers who have missed out?


#13

This sordid story just keeps on getting murkier as disgruntled creditors accuse the administrator of not telling them at the creditors’ meeting of information which was published in the minutes of the meeting.

Perhaps an administrator named Pilot may not have been the best choice for a failed airline booking company.


#14

#15

The Bestjet fiasco continues as customers get the runaround from their grubby banks.


#16

I wouldn’t call it grubby, like any business they need sufficient information to assess and then determine if a refund/chargeback is possible. Any claims usually involve paperwork and requests for additional information as part of the claim process. If one doesn’t complete the claim adequately initially, this will result in a drawn out process waiting for a decision.

What is important is that all relevant information is provided as part of the claim and the evidence stated as well.

One should also contact their banks before making a claim to determine the limitations on the charge backs. These come with conditions and limitations.


#17

What a mess. I hope all those affected get a refund at the least


#18

Brendan, having just read some of the travel insurance advice from the latest Choice updates I’m left wondering about the risks attached to payments for major travel and holidays?

Does the industry need a major overhaul and greater financial accountability, given it is self regulating and has many ways of transferring large amounts of value OS as part of everyday business, beyond the easy reach of Aussie law?

Do we need a nationally regulated insurance scheme or trust funds accounts or bank guarantee requirement that secures funds paid in advance for travel? What is the best solution that ensures the industry shares the burden, with responsible operators paying less, and higher risk operators a premium? The second part might be how these costs are apportioned across the industry such that it is not simply passed on indiscriminately by the industry as a whole to the customer as a other fee or tax to complain about?

Given the size of losses to consumers from this and previous failures.
Will the internal financial losses on credit card providers who can’t avoid making refunds in full, start the big banks lobbying for an exclusion or exemption for the obligation for travel or holidays booked in advance?

It is also no consolation if you paid by cash or direct debit, which many older Australian’s have been inclined to do.

Many of us also pay a long way in advance up to 6 months to take advantage of special offers, significant discounts (perhaps on already inflated prices?) or to secure peak dates for special events.

It may be useful for all of us to be made aware if any of the credit card providers are able to avoid refunds for travel booked and paid months earlier? For those on cash purchases it may be a long wait to find out if they get anything back?

Perhaps there is no genuine interest in a credit provider only accepting the business of a sound and responsibile operator?

True you might be able to take out your own travel insurance policy that protects your expensive bookings (limited options?), however this simply averages out the risk across the good and bad operators, while adding a fat premium markup and profits for a single policy vs a lower overhead for an operator level scheme?

This might need a life of it’s own in the community.


#19

You might be aware that there was such a scheme, the Travel Compensation Fund, that was discontinued in 2014 when the industry was de-regulated.

And in full disclosure, while CHOICE lobbied against de-regulating the fund at the time, we received a grant from the balance of the fund after it was discontinued. That finances our free travel advice and the travel insurance reviews which are publicly available.

To get back to your question though, there’s probably not much appetite for re-regulating the industry. I think the best way forward is for more travel insurance policies to include cover for insolvency of a travel agent.

There’s also some travel agents that have taken out insurance to protect their customers if that travel agent goes broke. So those agents are worth looking out for.

It does also pay to only go with ATAS accredited agents. Once the Australian Federation of Travel Agents become aware of the possible ownership links between Bestjet and the former Air Australia owners, they de-registered Bestjet from the ATAS scheme.

So they knew something was up with Bestjet (and ATAS was also financed from the disbanding of the Travel Compensation Fund).


#20

It would have been interesting how the fund dealt with the Bestjet fiasco. It appears in many cases that the tickets were paid and issued. At a later date, the booking party (agent/broker) cancelled issued tickets to receive refunds on Bestjet’s insolvency. Very unusual circumstances and wonder if these issued tickets had been collateral for debt?

Maybe in the future tickets/vouchers, the carrier or accommodation provider can only cancel tickets when authorised by the party the tickets were issued to (name on ticket) rather than by those who paid for them (agent/broker). While this may be less convenient (one having to deal with the carrier rather than an agent/broker), it would prevent cancellation of tickets already paid for and issued by other parties.