Consumer Protection BC says it is prepared to enforce provincial consumer protection laws if eligible consumers have been denied a refund for travel that was cancelled by the supplier.
“The law says consumers are entitled to a refund and to receive the money that was paid,” Consumer Protection BC vice-president Shahid Noorani said.
The provincial regulator says eligible consumers who booked travel online or by phone, email or fax and didn’t get their services can cancel their contract under B.C.’s distance sales contract laws and be entitled to a full refund from the travel supplier or a reversal of charges from their credit card issuer.
To apply for a refund you must be a B.C. resident and your travel service was not available to you, such as when an airline cancels your flight.
“We are here to step in and we will assume the role of ensuring the credit card companies and travel suppliers are providing the refunds and we are prepared to take other enforcement measures if necessary to bring about compliance in the industry,” Noorani said.
The Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act gives the provincial regulator the authority to issue an administrative penalty of up to $50,000 to a business per infraction.
Consumers are not eligible for a refund if the travel service was available, but regardless of the reason, including COVID-19, you decided not to travel.
Consumer Protection BC says the province’s consumer protection laws don’t come into play if a consumer voluntarily cancelled.
Recently, Air Canada committed to issuing refunds to passengers whose flights were cancelled last year because of the pandemic. Consumer Protection BC recommends customers go through the airline’s refund process first. If they are denied, they can pursue a refund with the regulator if they are eligible.
Impacted consumers seeking refunds can visit Consumer Protection BC’s website for more information about eligibility, what forms to use, and the steps required to request a refund properly.