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
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