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Travel agent shells out $1,500 for keeping money for beachside getaway

11 June 2019

A Varsity Lakes travel agent was fined $500 in the Gold Coast Magistrates Court yesterday (10 June 2019) for failing to supply services after charges were laid by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Riley Lance Martin, sole director of Exchange Travel Pty Ltd, trading as Travelalot, pleaded guilty to one charge of wrongly accepting payment and failing to supply a service under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

His business, Exchange Travel Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to the same offence on 13 May 2019 and was convicted and fined $1,000.

The court heard that on 4 January 2018, Exchange Travel Pty Ltd accepted payment from a Springfield Lakes consumer for a three-night stay at the Carlton Apartments in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

Mr Martin failed to book the accommodation for the specified period of 5-7 May 2018, or pass the money on to the hotel.

The affected consumer learned of this when they contacted the Carlton Apartments directly and was informed that the accommodation was not booked and that the Carlton Apartments no longer dealt with Mr Martin’s online travel business.

In sentencing Mr Martin, Magistrate Kerrie O’Callaghan said the community needed protection from these types of traders and had taken into account the need to protect consumers and deter others from committing similar breaches.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said online businesses must not accept payment from consumers for services they cannot deliver.

“If a sale agreement has not been fulfilled, consumers have rights under the ACL,” Mr Turner said.

“Consumers should do their research and book their getaways through reputable travel agencies to avoid disappointment.”

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