Government AffairsCustomers offered a bonus, but there was a catch

Flight Centre pays up for ‘misleading’ promotions

The Australian consumer watchdog claimed Flight Centre’s promotion was misleading.
The Australian consumer watchdog claimed Flight Centre’s promotion was misleading.

SYDNEY - Flight Centre, Australia’s largest travel agency has paid A$252,000 (US$172.000) in penalties after the competition watchdog, the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission, issued two infringement notices for alleged misleading advertisements promoting holiday vouchers during the 2018 Christmas and 2019 Easter periods.

Flight Centre advertised promotions in store and in print newspapers offering A$250 vouchers to consumers who spent A$1500 (US$1025) on a holiday package with Flight Centre. The vouchers were redeemable on their next holiday booked through Flight Centre.

The ACCC said it had grounds to believe that these advertisements were liable to mislead and breached the Australian Consumer Law because Flight Centre failed to disclose to consumers that redeeming the $250 voucher was subject to certain conditions. These conditions included requiring consumers to book another holiday with Flight Centre worth more than $5000.

The ACCC was also concerned about the limited time frame offered for consumers to redeem the voucher, which also wasn’t properly disclosed to consumers.

“We are concerned that consumers were enticed to purchase their holiday through Flight Centre to obtain a voucher they were not able to use without spending another $5000, when this was not adequately disclosed,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

Over 35,000 consumers received cash vouchers as part of these promotions.

Flight Centre’s advertisements appeared in print newspapers and on digital screens across about 700 stores for the Christmas promotion and 800 stores for the Easter promotion.

“Businesses are warned that the terms and conditions of any deal or promotion must be prominent, so that consumers understand what is involved in redeeming the offer,” Ms Court said.

Flight Centre has now waived the A$5000 minimum spend condition and extended the redemption period for vouchers provided but denies liability. 

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