Nov 15, 2023

Older couple fight with travel company over cancelled tours

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Mrs Johnson said she felt like she and her husband were being discriminated against. [Source:]

An older couple has gotten into a bitter debate with a popular travel company after purchasing a $47,000 trip that left them in strife. 

Seasoned travellers Mary Johnson, 79, and Cliff Johnson, 81, booked three tours across Canada, the US and Turkey this year at Flight Centre’s Tweed City store. Two tours were then cancelled while they were overseas, forcing them to stay in locations they didn’t want to be in for extended periods while they scrambled to make other arrangements.

Flight Centre allege it initially told the couple they had chosen “non-guaranteed departures” for the tours which meant they were “accepting the risk of the tour being cancelled by the tour company”.

But Mrs Johnson told that she and her husband were never told this and would not have spent so much money on tours that weren’t guaranteed. 

Upon returning to Australia in August, the couple attempted to claim refunds from the travel company. After weeks of liaising via email and phone, Mrs Johnson said that last month she received an email from Flight Centre effectively banning the couple from booking any future holidays at the Tweed City store.  

The email supplied to by the couple stated the team felt it would be “best for all parties” if they made any future bookings at a different store.

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The email allegedly sent to Mrs Johnson. [Source:]

Mrs Johnson said the email came as “an absolute surprise” and that she believed they were being discriminated against.

Upon being approached for comment by the media, Flight Centre Tweed City allegedly sent Mrs Johnson a follow-up email shortly after going back on the decision not to help the Johnsons going forward.

“I’m sorry if there was any confusion on you being able to book in store with us – we thought that you would prefer to deal with another store but we would love the opportunity to help you with your next booking,” the email is said to have stated.

In a statement, Flight Centre Australia General Manager Brent Novak told the Johnsons had been contacted to clarify the company values them as customers and that this incident was not business policy.

“We have sincerely apologised on behalf of the staff member who had directed them to book their future travel with another Flight Centre store,” he said.

“This is not our company policy, Flight Centre would only bar people from a store in exceptional circumstances. We regret that this communication was made and the hurt that it understandably caused the Johnsons.”

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  1. Service recovery is everything to maintain ongoing high value clients who have problems. Dedicated independent staff at FC HQ should have been brought in to mediate, in line with a comprehensive dispute resolution scheme. FC almost lost the clients from the brand.


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