Often, customers have to suffer at the hands of travel agencies.

Going on a holiday to take that ephemeral break from a hectic, stressful lifestyle is common these days. As a result, we find the mushrooming of travel agencies, most of whom offer online services as well. Travellers normally prefer to use the services of these agencies who promise to take care of all the details of the tour, including air/train tickets and stay. Though the services provided by these agencies are good in general, there are times when consumers suffer at the hands of these agencies; a few complaints that we have received recently are testimony to this.

Agnivesh, after seeing the advertisement of a reputed company, booked a three-day holiday at a hotel in Ooty and made the payment online. The travel agency had announced that it was unveiling a ‘revolutionary’ offer – a hotel experience that was exactly like what was on the website; if not 100 per cent money back was guaranteed. However, Agnivesh’s trip turned out to be a nightmare as the hotel lacked even the basic amenities.

After returning, Agnivesh took up the matter with the company and asked it to refund the money as per the commitment. However, the company refused to respond. Then he sought our assistance. We took up the issue with the agency and surprisingly, other than automated reply, there was no further communication from the agency. Now, we have advised Agnivesh to file a complaint with the District Forum.

In another instance, in January this year, a well-known travel agency had advertised for an American tour that included Canada. Aravindan, a senior citizen, decided on that trip and remitted Rs. 20,000 as an advance. He got his U.S. Visa in February itself and the agency was supposed to process his application for his Visa to Canada. He was to leave on July 18. On July 13, the agency called and informed Aravindan that the Canada Visa and air tickets were ready and that he should pay the balance amount after which the Visa papers and tickets would be handed over to him.

Accordingly, Aravindan paid the entire amount on July 15. The air tickets were handed over immediately and he was told the passport and Visa would be delivered the same night. But, he was in for a huge shock when he got a call a few hours later to be told that his visa application for Canada had been rejected! His delight about the impending trip was lost as the application was not processed on time and above all, because of the wrong information given. Before leaving on his trip, he wrote to the agency, asking them to refund the cost of the Canada trip. There was no response; Aravindan sought our support. We have represented the matter to the agency and are waiting to hear from them. When customers rely on travel agencies/companies for a pleasant trip, the responsibilities of these organisations increase manifold and they should ensure they provide the best service.

(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details /queries contact 24914358/24460387 or helpdesk@cag.org.in)

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