Saturday 27 February 2016

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I want my refund!

I bought tickets from a travel agent but when I got to the airport apparently they weren't paid for so I used cash I had. I immediately went to report to them last year July and they said they'd refund us. Now the agent keeps giving us excuses and no real answers as to when we'll get our refund.

How do I approach this issue?

I’m sorry to hear of your problem. Unfortunately this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this happening. It seems to be a fairly common occurrence with a section of the travel agency business. They take the customer’s money and assure them that everything is booked, sometimes even producing what appear to be tickets, but they never actually pass your money on to the airline. It’s only when you reach the airport, and sometimes even the boarding gate, that you find out that the ticket you’re holding is worth nothing more than the paper it’s printed on.

A few years ago we dealt with two travel agents who were playing this trick on a number of customers. One of them ended up losing their franchise because of the bad name they were giving them, the other ended up in the “In The Matter Between” pages of several newspapers when one of their victims took them to court and seized their assets. It also turned out that the individual who had done this had a history of doing exactly the same thing with several previous employers, leaving a legacy of financial abuse behind him.

We’ll get in touch with this travel agent and see if they won’t do the decent thing and just pay you your refund. I’ll ask them if they want a story in The Voice about them. That usually does the trick.

Meanwhile if you’re thinking of using a travel agency I suggest you ask around first. Use one that a friend, relative of colleague can recommend based on their experience. Don’t leave it to chance.

I lost my card!

[I’ve removed the names of the two banks in this question.]

I recently used my Bank A ATM card to try and withdraw money from my local Bank B ATM. It was then unfortunately swallowed by the machine and I was told that I would have to apply for a new card as this other one will be removed and destroyed. I did apply for a new card and I was charged P56 for 'replacement' by Bank A which I find absolutely mad as it wasn't my fault I lost the card. I am also supposed to wait 10 working days for it. Their reason was that it was just the way things are done. Could you find out for me why such a ridiculous protocol is followed and if there's any basis for it or banks just want to profiteer and just inconvenience us.

There’s good news and bad news. We contacted your bank, Bank A, and they told what had happened. It seems that the Visa rules that govern this situation, when you use one bank’s card in another bank’s machine are very strict. Because Banks B has no records of you and your identity to check what you’re saying they can’t return it to you. Instead they’re required by these rules to destroy the card. That’s the bad news.

The good news is they are a bit confused about the P56. Our contact there said “I am still trying to confirm if indeed the client should have been charged the P56” so maybe you’ll get that back from them. We’ll see.

The lesson here is to be careful when using another bank’s ATM. In almost all cases it will work perfectly but when things go wrong it can be a disaster. A few years ago we heard of a case when someone used another bank’s ATM but although the money wasn’t produced it was nevertheless deducted from his account. In the month it took the two banks to sort this out he couldn’t pay his rent and was evicted by his landlord.

So be careful. Use your own bank’s ATM whenever possible.

No comments: