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QANTAS: Pandemic travel credit class action: $1bn in interest-free loan

QANTAS: Pandemic travel credit class action: $1bn in interest-free loan

Echo Law, specialising in class actions, has lodged proceedings in the Federal Court. The class action is against Qantas over its refund policy for pandemic-related cancelled flights. The Guardian, suggests that the policy was designed for consumers’ money to be used as ‘$1bn in interest-free loans’.

The suit aims to force refunds on all remaining Qantas flight credits. It also claims lost interest compensation for the money held by the airline.

It alleges ‘misleading or deceptive conduct’ in the way Qantas communicated consumer rights for flights that didn’t go ahead due to COVID. They also allege that Qantas breached its contract with clients because it did not issue refunds in a timely manner.

Further, the law firm claims that Qantas was ‘unjustly enriched by holding a significant quantum of customer funds that it ought to have refunded. It alleges that Qantas pursued “a system or pattern of unconscionable conduct’, contravening Australian consumer laws.

View from the Qantas Melbourne First Class Lounge [Schuetx/2PAXfly]
View from the Qantas Melbourne First Class Lounge [Schuetx/2PAXfly]

And that ain’t all

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is looking at acting on a complaint that Qantas breached consumer law by promoting a discount fare that was essentially unavailable on its website. The complaint alleges that Qantas breached Australia’s consumer law by advertising return economy airfare from $2,455 per adult for a Sydney to London Heathrow, return airfare as one of its ‘top offers’ in the London section of its website.

The fare was only available for one month (1 September to 1 October) and not even on every day.

The complainant searched the Qantas website for every day in the period and could not find the fare. They allege that even the sales operator and their supervisor on phoning Qantas, could not find the fare.

The Guardian journalist contacted Qantas about the promotional fare. Their response was a fare that was AU$8 more expensive than the advertised one and required a five-and-a-half-week stay. The promotion was displayed on the Qantas site, until a few hours after the Guardian posted the story (21 August 2023).

View from the Qantas Melbourne First Class Lounge [Schuetx/2PAXfly]
View from the Qantas Melbourne First Class Lounge [Schuetx/2PAXfly]

Bait and Switch

The ACCC definition of ‘bate and switch’ is ‘the practice of promoting prices, often ‘sale’ prices, on products that are … available only in very limited quantities.’

Qantas denies the allegation that the promotion was misleading, claiming that many consumers had taken advantage of the promotion.

Qantas jet, Melbourne Airport
View from Qantas First Lounge, Melbourne Airport [Schuetx/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

Qantas currently has the unenviable métier as being the most complained about company to the ACCC in 2022/23.

Oh yes, and Qantas is expected to announce a stupendous multi-million dollar profit at its results announcement this Thursday (24 August).

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