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Court orders former Cairns travel agent to pay over $80,000

4 September 2019

A former Cairns travel agent and his company have been ordered to pay a total of $81,345 in fines and consumer compensation by the Cairns Magistrates Court yesterday (3 September 2019) after being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for failing to supply travel services.

Dominique Jean Marie Gerson, sole director of the travel agency 2 Frogz In Oz Pty Ltd, trading as Rendez-Vous Fute, was found guilty of nine charges of failing to supply services to consumers under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Mr Gerson and his company were fined $15,000 and $45,000 respectively, and ordered to pay $21,345 in compensation to six affected consumers, as well as $99 in court fees. Convictions were recorded against both Mr Gerson and 2 Frogz In Oz Pty Ltd.

The matter was heard ex-parte. Mr Gerson, who is a French citizen, had appeared in Court for an earlier mention of these charges but is now residing in France.

The court heard that between November 2017 and February 2018, Rendez-Vous Fute accepted payments from consumers for holiday tours, vehicle hire and accommodation.

In April 2018 customers were advised by email by a Rendez-Vous Fute employee that the company had ceased to trade and that the director had moved to France.  Despite repeated attempts, the consumers were unable to contact Mr Gerson or obtain refunds.

In sentencing, Magistrate Alan Comans said business operators need to fulfil their obligations in providing services. He noted that the ACL was there to protect consumers, who had paid in good faith, from unscrupulous traders who did not fulfil their obligations.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said it was very disappointing this company had ignored its obligations under the ACL.

“These consumers had their travel plans wrecked and were left considerably out of pocket,” Mr Turner said.

“The OFT will continue to ensure that businesses which are found to be doing the wrong thing face appropriate enforcement action.”

If consumers have paid for goods or services they have not received, they are encouraged to make a complaint to the OFT either online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).