The Consumer Council of Fiji strongly advises consumers to carry out a thorough background check on all travel agents selling air tickets.
This follows complaints received by the Council against a prominent travel agent based in Namaka, Nadi, that has taken thousands of dollars from consumers by selling bogus air tickets. As a result, consumers have lost substantial amounts of money.
Some consumers purchased tickets and had later tried to verify their seat number with airline company only to find that the seats were booked under a different person’s name. Other consumers had deposited large sums of money into the company’s bank account but had yet to receive their tickets. Some were only aware of the scam when they reached the airport and was informed their tickets were not valid.
Travel agents must be licensed to protect gullible consumers. Most countries require travel agents to undertake formal training, regular continuing education, and possible licensing before they are allowed to engage in selling or dealing with travel products and services, similar to that required for realtors.
In Fiji, anyone can call themselves a travel agent, usually with no formal training or qualifications. The lack of formal training means lack of quality control.
It is advisable that consumers work with established travel agents. It would also be in the consumer’s best interest to determine whether the agency is accredited with the International Airlines Transport Association (IATA) by viewing the travel agents IATA ID card to avoid being duped.
The matter is grave and requires urgent attention from all concerned authorities for a quick action against this travel agent so that consumers get their money back.
Consumers are advised to seek the Council’s assistance and lodge complaints on the National Consumer Helpline toll-free number 155 if they are facing a similar situation.