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It’s all in the fine print: Refund rights for 2021 Schoolies bookings

While excitement is growing for a traditional school leaver celebration, interstate Year 12 students are being urged to carefully review their accommodation booking terms and conditions (T&Cs).

Commissioner for Fair Trading Victoria Thomson said schoolies should familiarise themselves with the 70 and 80 per cent vaccination milestones for entering Queensland and the impacts should further restrictions and border closures make attendance impossible.

Ms Thomson said not everyone will be entitled to a refund.

“The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is aware students from other states may have made bookings in Queensland earlier in the year,” Ms Thomson said.

“Last year, when the pandemic was new and unprecedented, people may have been provided refunds under the accommodation providers’ T&Cs, even when they were under no obligation to do so.

“However, by early 2021, most accommodation providers had updated their booking T&Cs to cover pandemic-related cancelations due to government-imposed restrictions.

“Unfortunately, if the person making the booking didn’t read the T&Cs conditions properly and accepted them by paying a deposit, they will be bound to those conditions which may leave them out of pocket.”

The Commissioner said that school leavers’ rights to refunds will depend on the individual businesses’ T&Cs.

“In many instances accommodation providers clearly state that the deposit is non‑refundable, but this will vary from business to business, particularly with regards to COVID ‑19 restrictions,” she said.

“At this time, Queensland school leavers are still able to freely travel to the Gold Coast and other popular end of year celebration destinations across the state.

“But they will need to keep in mind physical distancing and limits to the amount of people allowed inside accommodation, as well as the potential for lockdowns and restrictions impacting their plans.

“If the situation changes and the Gold Coast was to go into a lockdown, the booking terms and conditions will determine if they get their deposit back or not.

“If schoolies find themselves in this situation, they should carefully check their T&Cs, and any previous communications about the accommodation booking, and contact the provider directly.

“While a business may be entitled to keep the deposit or payment due to their T&Cs, some may offer a refund or credit note or voucher as a gesture of good will.

“However, if there was a right to a refund under the T&Cs at the time of booking, businesses aren’t permitted to change the terms at a later time to deny a refund.”

For more information about travel rights and refunds, visit the OFT website.

If a school leaver believes they are entitled to a refund and they’ve been unable to resolve the matter with the trader directly, they are encouraged to lodge a complaint with the OFT. Complaints can be lodged online at: www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.