Ontario’s travel registrar is reminding registrants that they cannot charge a fee or penalty to process a refund when it was not disclosed at the time of booking nor stated on the customer’s invoice
The advisory to registrants notes that “it has come to TICO’s attention that some customers are being charged and/or invoiced for fees and/or penalties to process refunds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we appreciate the frustration that many of you feel as a result of the strain the travel industry is currently under, it is imperative that you continue to adhere to the laws and regulations that govern your business.”
The relevant section of the regulation:36(c) and 38 (d) of Ontario Regulation 26/05.
As well, the Registrar points out Registrants Obligation to Issue Voucher or Similar Document, stating: “This requirement pertains to registrants who have engaged suppliers to bundle multiple travel services (e.g., airfare, accommodations, cruise and/or ground transportation), which you advertised as pre-packaged travel services and re-sold to either other registrants or customers for a single price.”
And it notes that: “TICO continues to receive customer complaints regarding a number of registrants who are not reimbursing customers, or at a minimum issuing vouchers representing value equal to travel services purchased and not provided, for future travel services for packaged tours and holidays that were cancelled by the registrant, indefinitely postponed and/or no longer available to the customer as suppliers declared a failure to provide services (ex. airlines, cruise lines, hotels, etc.) related to COVID-19. This may include situations where it has been suggested to the customer that they have the option of cancelling when in fact the services are no longer available.”
And the message concludes: “We understand some customers may have purchased insurance which may provide full or partial reimbursement, but unless fully covered, the Registrant still has the obligation to ensure the customer has been made whole.”
For more information on Vouchers, go to https://www.tico.ca/news/registrar-bulletins/397-registrar-bulletin-vouchers-or-similar-documents.html
And the reminder also notes that where a registrant has only sold another registrant’s package, and not acquired any rights to those components for resale, the registrant that sells to the customer is not subject to this provision.
On the issue of reimbursement required for customers whose trips were cut short, the Registrar’s message states that “the issuance of vouchers also applies if the customer was at the destination and their travel services (e.g. vacation) abruptly ended. Those registrants who packaged services are required to provide a voucher for the value of travel services not provided.”
Examples include the following:
- Customer booked a 2-week air and accommodation package and only received one week, having to be flown home early.
- Customer received round trip air but only one-week accommodations.
- Customer is entitled to future voucher for the value representing the one- week accommodations not received.
And the message concludes: “TICO understands that these are challenging and uncertain times for businesses; however, it is important to note that as the Regulator, TICO is legally obligated to uphold the legislation.”
Go to www.tico.ca for more.