Qantas Holidays says it is working with customers affected by the Fiji floods to “get them a good result” following a complaint the company had left Australian tourists out of pocket.
Sydney holiday-maker Melanie Yu told ABC News Online that Qantas Holidays had refused to refund her family for inaccessible accommodation after she cancelled a trip to the South Pacific country.
Ms Yu had booked her flight through Virgin Airlines and paid $4,000 for her accommodation through Qantas Holidays.
She was due to fly to Fiji at 8am AEDT on Monday for a long-awaited family holiday, but decided to cancel the trip after viewing a television news report of the widespread flooding, which has left at least six people dead and stranded tourists.
After contacting Qantas Holidays on Monday, Ms Yu said she was informed refunds were not being offered.
But the company has since had a change of heart, advising Ms Yu she will receive a full refund.
“It will take two to four weeks for the refund to come through but they will be doing the full refund, including my initial deposit,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Qantas Holidays says the company is making every effort to assist customers affected by the Fiji floods.
“For passengers wishing to change their travel plans to Fiji due to the current circumstances, Qantas Holidays will waive cancellation fees and deposits in line with Qantas Airways and Air Pacific,” she said.
“In relation to land, cancellation fee waivers are at the discretion of the supplier and Qantas holidays will provide specific details to each customer upon application.
“Where possible, Qantas Holidays is providing flexibility to passengers who wish to defer or change their travel plans to Fiji.”
Ms Yu said she was now happy with the response from Qantas Holidays, but lamented the fact she was unable to contact the company when she needed answers.
Ms Yu said she rang the number provided on the company’s website on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
“I rang Saturday night – the news I heard was on the 6pm news, so it might have been about 6.30pm, 6.45pm when I was trying to ring. I can’t remember exactly, I know it was after 6 o’clock and then I tried again Sunday morning before 8.30am.
“I tried to call before I cancelled my Virgin flights and I cancelled my Virgin flights about 8.30am Sunday. I was worried about the 24-hour period, like if you cancel within 24 hours you lose all your money with the flights.”
But the phone calls were made outside of Qantas Holidays’ operating hours, and with no other number listed, Ms Yu said she was left with little option but to cancel her trip.
Despite the company’s website advising its operating line is closed on Sunday, Qantas Holidays says its lines were open that day from 9am-2pm.
A spokeswoman for Qantas Holidays says the company does not offer an emergency number because it is a wholesaler, and retailers are the point of call for customers.
Ms Yu said while pleased to be receiving a refund, her family’s summer holiday plans had been ruined.
“I’d like it (the refund) a lot sooner than that. It’d be nice to go somewhere, but ideally I’d like it straight away because I don’t think it should take two to four weeks to get your money back,” she said.
“My husband goes back to work this week and then my son goes back to school in two weeks, so therefore it doesn’t really leave any time to go anywhere.
“I just have to see if I can try and get a booking in the next school holidays, which will obviously be pretty booked out, I would say.”
Ms Yu said she was reserving her judgement about whether to book with Qantas Holidays again.
“We’ll see. I won’t make a comment on that until I know I’ve actually got my money back, make sure the money is sitting in my account and we’ll go from there,” she said.
“At the end of the day it worked out, well, hopefully it’s worked out.
“The end result is hopefully those of us that have had this happen to our holiday, hopefully everyone that has gone with Qantas will get their money back.”