Hi phb, and Brendan,
Re: Our Vacation Centre (OVC) ***** and associated entities and brand names
Thanks for your replies.
It has been possible, in relation to an international travel booking, to allege and document a very large number of individual instances of contravention by Our Vacation Centre ( OVC ) ***** of the Australian Consumer Law and the mandatory AFTA/ATAS Code of Conduct . The company has also failed to comply with ACCC Guidelines . Our Vacation Centre (OVC) ***** is an accredited member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents – AFTA – and is also part of the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme – ATAS. It’s an amazing number of contraventions - and we are still identifying further instances. We have not yet gone near AFTA’s Code of Ethics .
These four principal sources of consumer protection have been cast aside by the company in virtually every possible respect. Other areas of the law have also been transgressed – for example, negligence, fraud, agency, and contracts. Nevertheless, accordingly to its lawyer, the company regards itself as entirely faultless.
To cite the detail of each contravention would be too long for this forum. We will instead simply categorise the main areas in which we believe the company has contravened the consumer protections and other relevant laws:
- false or misleading representations; misleading or deceptive conduct; unconscionable conduct; unfair terms; hidden terms; terms not provided; non-adherence to terms; wrongly accepting payment; guarantee as to skill and care; guarantee as to fitness for purpose; proof of transactions; itemised bills; information supply; information standards; refunds; cancellations; negligence; fraud; absence of a complaints process; conflicts-of-interest; mismanagement; self-interested prioritising of the commercial interests of its partnerships and other commercial associations at the expense of consumer interests; prepayments; conflict between its own commercial interest and those of its consumers; failure to hand over all money collected; non-performance of duty of care and diligence; financial viability; rapacious pricing; unfair selling tactics; nexus between staff reward and misconduct; misuse and abuse of asymmetry of power and information to its own advantage; conflict between duty and self-interest; failure to hold itself to account; overcharging; breaches of directors’ and officers’ duties; pricing disclosure; false advertising; misleading and deceptive website; incompetence; charges above quotes; supply of incorrect services; misleading representation regarding membership and obligations under AFTA/ATAS; unsatisfactory service; contract termination fees; disputed and unreasonable charges; non-disclosure; denial of relevant information requested; disinterest in resolution of issues; exploitation of vulnerable consumers; a culture based on self-interest and consumer exploitation; failure to treat seriously, or even read, dispute and claim documents from complainants; failure to act in good faith; among others.
The details of each contravention have been documented (so far around 260 pages) and sent to the company and the company’s lawyer. This evidence has described more than 100 individual contraventions. The evidence has been met with disdain and disinterest from the company and its lawyer. In eight months we have received one phone call – during which only one relatively minor issue was briefly discussed with the remaining and more substantive issues being ignored; one email (of just over 2 pages) – which again referred to only one relatively minor issue and ignored the rest (it also made a number of false or misleading representations and produced a previously ‘invisible’ set of terms and conditions ‘replacing’ those on its website); and two lawyer’s letters. The first (of just over 4 pages) of which made further false and misleading representations, among other things, and asserted that the company was entirely innocent of all allegations. The second (of one sentence) simply stated that “our client has expressed its position and does not propose to engage further with you in relation to this dispute”– not that the client really had, anyway.
Our Vacation Centre (OVC)* is tied into timeshare. We were referred to OVC by our timeshare company - Holiday Concepts . We didn’t pay a separate fee to get access to OVC’s services. Some of the OVC documentation we received from OVC also had the Holiday Concepts logo on the top.
OVC also makes reference to Our Vacation Club which is a timeshare with 650,000 members and books travel through OVC . OVC also makes reference to I.C.E. Gallery . It also makes reference to I.C.E. Vacations which requires a membership number to access.
Lifestyle Loyalty Group, a brand of OVC , offers to create and develop reward programs for other companies under the names Discover365 Travel and Lifestyle Rewards and Two for One Rewards Travel Program . It makes bookings under these programs and for a number of other companies, at least some of whom are timeshare companies. These companies are: ACCOR Vacation Club; Marriott Vacation Club; Wyndham Vacation Resorts; Two for One Cruises; RCI; Sears Lifestyle Loyalty; GOV Vacation Rewards; American Express; Virgin Australia; Flybuys Travel; Cruise Megastore; Velocity Frequent Flyer; Expedia; Readers Digest; and Sunsuper Dream Rewards.
***** The company is a subsidiary of I.C.E. Vacations Asia Pacific and the ultimate parent is a large American company, The International Cruise and Excursion (I.C.E.). The company also operates a large number of brands in Australia including: ICE Vacations; Cruise Megastore; Lifestyle Loyalty Group; Travel Megastore; Cruise Mega Deals; Hotel Megastore; My Just Rewards; My241 Cruise; Cruise Pilot; Cruise Superstore; Car hire Megastore; Tour Megastore; Our Vacation Club; among others.