JAYSON Westbury, chief executive AFTA
It is hard to imagine that an entire year can pass and a matter that I wrote about in this edition of travelBulletin in February 2017 is almost being put to bed. I speak of the collapse of the All Leisure Group (ALG) and the pending refunds to travel agents and clients.
AFTA got involved directly with our sister organisation ABTA who initially were not looking to provide refunds from the ABTA scheme which covered bookings on ALG. A year on, the money is flowing fast with travel agents and clients having funds deposited into their accounts in the final weeks of January and this month.
What is noteworthy in this case is that travel agents who had been hit with a Credit Card Chargeback have also been refunded. This is somewhat of an unprecedented scenario and great news for those agents who got caught up in the middle of the entire mess.
A very big shout out also to Discover the World (DTW) which has been actively involved in the management of the process between the Australian agents, customers and ABTA in order to ensure that for as much as possible refunds got paid. DTW was involved in the transition handling for ALG prior to its collapse.
It has truly been a learning experience for everyone involved and a miracle. From AFTA’s perspective this has shown us the coverage that a fund for the purposes of covering travel agents who get hit with a chargeback when a supplier collapses can provide. That is why the new AFTA Chargeback Scheme (ACS) is so imperative for Australian travel agents.
If ACS had been in place when the ALG collapse had taken place, all of the agents who had been hit with chargebacks (provided they had been part of the scheme and transacted via the payment partner) would be covered. I am also extremely confident that it would not have taken a year for everyone to get their money back.
It’s amazing that in just over a year AFTA has managed to not only resolve this issue with ALG and ABTA, but has conceptualised, developed and deployed a scheme for the specific purpose of protecting agents when suppliers collapse.
The momentum of agents taking up ACS cover is building and of course the concept of the scheme is the more the merrier as it is stronger with more agents involved.
One key difference in the way the ACS scheme has been developed is that it comes at no cost to the travel agent. The cost of the cover is built into the credit card surcharge passed on to the consumer.
The year ahead is set to be a good one for the travel industry and I hope that we do not have any significant challenges like this ALG collapse, but if we do those who have the cover with ACS will be smiling all the way to the bank. If you want more info on the scheme, just get in touch with AFTA via www.afta.com.au.