Travel agency Webjet faces backlash as Australian customers scramble for flight credit

Excited Australians have left their post-pandemic dream holiday in tatters after falling victim to the mistakes of an online travel agency.

Australian-born Webjet is facing backlash after customers say they didn’t get the credit they needed to book new holidays and, in some cases, didn’t book the flights they paid for.

Sharleene Demmery-Moir is hoping to travel to New Zealand with her daughter and granddaughters in September.

Sharleene Demmery-Moir. (A topical matter)

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The Perth grandmother originally booked flights through Webjet in 2019, but when her flights were canceled due to the pandemic, she received flight credit for the future.

Demmery-Moir is now trying to rebook her vacation, but always gets into turbulence.

“I have a thousand dollars in credit that I can use to go to New Zealand, which expires tomorrow, and I’ve been trying to get her since late May,” Demmery-Moir said.

webjet. (A topical matter)

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Demmery-Moir was unable to speak to anyone from Webjet, despite trying various means.

“I called them a couple of times, I texted them and I sat online for 504 minutes,” Demmery-Moir said.

Finlay Burnett and her partner Dawson Bown also cross the ditch via Webjet but have encountered their own problems.

Dawson Bown and Finlay Burnett. (A topical matter)

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After originally booking their flights in September 2021, the couple paid an additional $1,200 to have their flights rescheduled from July to August this year.

After receiving no further communication from Webjet about their flights, the two attempted to contact the customer service team.

“We’ve been calling almost every day throughout the week, sometimes we’ve been on hold for five, six hours and we still haven’t been able to get through to anyone,” Burnett said.

It wasn’t until Bown received an email from Webjet that they realized they were out of flights.

“I received another email saying the flight was already booked and our flights were never changed and they just took our money,” Bown said.

Rochelle and Michael Bartlett. (A topical matter)

Also fighting for lost money are Rochelle and Michael Bartlett, who have booked flights to Canada for themselves and their three children to visit family.

After booking flights through Webjet in November last year, Mr Bartlett asked in May if he could push back his daughter’s flight date by a week.

It was then that a Webjet employee informed him that the first leg of his family’s flight had been canceled some time ago.

The Bartletts were given the option of applying for a flight loan through Webjet or booking the next available flight on the same airline six months later.

Mr. Bartlett elected to book the later flights, a decision that cost him an additional $6,000 on top of what he had already paid for the original flights.

“We have never had this experience in our lives before and I would do anything to spare others the pain of what we have endured because of it,” Mr. Bartlett said.

Quentin Long, Founder of Australian Traveler Co. (A Current Matter)

Quentin Long, founder of Australian Traveler Co, said customers are suffering right now, but so is Webjet.

“They’ve lost over $230 million in the last two years,” Long said.

Long said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way travel companies operate.

“The travel industry is really good at working in one direction, but when people have to cancel like we’ve been doing during the pandemic, it doesn’t work very well in reverse,” Long said.

Long said that while third-party websites have their place in the industry, bookings become complicated in the event of flight cancellations.

“The weakness is that you don’t have a direct relationship with the supplier, and that gets worse when you need to get a loan or try to rebook something,” Long said.

“Hopefully Webjet gets their staffing and customer service up to scratch and start handling those things because the industry really needs travelers.”

Since I contacted Webjet, A topical matter assumes that three of the four cases have since been resolved.

Statement from Webjet CEO David Galt:

We sincerely apologize to anyone who is experiencing long waits to reach us as this is not the level of service that we intend and typically provide to our customers. Throughout the pandemic, we have not fired or fired any customer service personnel. To date, we have nearly doubled the size of our messaging, telephone and ticketing service teams to support the more complex needs of our traveling customers as the world opens up again, and we continue to hire additional staff to further enhance our service capability our customers.

Airlines control the terms and conditions of flight credits, including expiry, class of service, route applicability, change fees and refund eligibility. Webjet responds to customer inquiries and change requests based on departure date (closest first). Webjet does not charge any refund, change or cancellation fees and only passes on the appropriate fees specified by the airline.

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