More than 12% of the total complaints received by the Commerce Commission for the year to 30 June 2020 were related to travel, as the impact of Covid-19 saw a record number of grievances voiced against the industry.
According to the Commission’s Complaints Snapshot for 2019/20, travel was the most complained about industry, with 1225 complaints out of a total of 9892, or 12.4%, coming under the travel category, a new grouping for 2020.
“Travel-related complaints include those about airlines, booking agents, motor vehicle rentals and accommodation,” Commerce Commission chair Anna Rawlings said.
Airlines received 477 complaints, booking agents 386 complaints, accommodation 184 complaints, and motor vehicle rentals 178 complaints.
The total number of complaints received for the year was an increase of more than 10% on the 2018/19 figure of 8964. Of those, 20% were related to Covid-19.
“Not all of the travel complaints we received related to Covid-19, but the travel sector was strongly affected by the pandemic and that has caused a large increase in travel-related complaints,” Rawlings said.
Travel complaints covered themes including difficulty obtaining refunds, offers of credits rather than refunds for Covid-19-related cancellations, and new contract terms inserted in contracts, such terms providing for cancellation fees to be charged.
“We note that but for Covid-19, telecommunications retail service providers would have again been the most complained about industry,” Rawlings added.
The Commission said high levels of publicity about an industry or an issue could sometimes result in more complaints. Larger industries were likely to generate more complaints because they had more customers.
“We welcome information from consumers and businesses about conduct that they consider might breach competition or consumer laws,” Rawlings said.
“We do not investigate every complaint we receive, but every complaint helps us to understand what conduct is of greatest concern to consumers and businesses, and to identify where to focus our activity and resources to have the greatest impact.”
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